Interview with Helen Meikle

You’re not exactly young to be publishing your first book. Why is that?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. While other kids did healthy things like running and jumping, I was reading or writing. It was the only future I really wanted. But times were different then - no degrees in creative writing, no real prospect of making it a career, and a lot more pressure to be conventional. So I did other things...and other things...and other things... And while I had work published form time to time, fiction and non-fiction, I had to retire before I could really embrace it.
And how did this novel come about?
It was winter, and I hate winter. I wrote it purely for my own entertainment, with no thought of a possible market. That was the saving grace, I think. If I’d worried about marketability, I wouldn’t have got beyond the first chapter. But once it was done, a few people asked to read it, they liked it, and I thought I might as well see whether anyone else might like it too.
Did you enjoy the process?
The writing process, yes. Loved every minute of it. Happy as a pig in mud, you might say. In fact I got so engrossed in the book, I was in danger of losing track of the fact that Christmas wasn’t just around the corner after all. The process of publishing was much harder. Conventional publishing was a brick wall, and the business of converting it to eBook formatting, and designing a cover, was so far beyond me that I handed it over to a brilliant company who did it all for me. And then we come to marketing... Not easy, for me. Blowing my own trumpet wasn’t one of the lessons I learned at my mother’s knee.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, walk on the beach, and think about what I can I can write next. And in summer, I surf. Body surfing, you understand, nothing fancy, but I love it.
Who are your favourite authors?
It’s hard to say, these days. The library here is very small, so I’m constantly finding new writers to satisfy my reading habit - and there are so many good writers out there! Beyond that, I look for characters I can relate to, and a level of optimism and positivity. The world outside is pessimistic and negative enough, and I like my entertainment to be entertaining.
Describe your desk.
Messy, in a word. When it gets to the point where I can’t find what I want (yesterday’s mail, my calculator, the new packet of mouse batteries) I tidy it up, but it’s one of those things classed as ‘good housekeeping’, and thus a long way down my current list of priorities. It’s actually the dining table, but no one has dined at it for a very long time.
What inspires you to write?
People, mainly: their attitudes, their dreams, their challenges, their quirks, their interactions and relationships, their strengths and shortcomings, their infinite variety. Because although we’re capable of doing horrible things to each other, we’re equally capable of incalculable good. That’s what makes us so fascinating. Where I live inspires me, too: a small seaside town where there’s room to breathe, the hills are wild, the sea is vast and the stars are fierce in the dark.
Looking back at your life, what would you change?
Nothing. I could say I’d have been a better-known writer if I’d started earlier, but who knows? We’re the sum total of our lives, and if I hadn’t struggled occasionally, I might never have learned the lessons I did. Once one ingredient changes, the cake can turn out quite differently, and I’m happy with the cake I have now.
Would you say you’re disciplined in your approach to life?
I was very disciplined when I was younger. These days, I’m capable of being disciplined, and I’m equally capable of being thoroughly disorganised and rebellious, depending on the day and project in hand. Not something I’m proud of, but on the other hand...why not?
What next?
Another book, I hope
Published 2014-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Six Weeks in Summer
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 59,470. Language: English. Published: August 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
You might think you have your future neatly laid out, but what happens when other people trample across your plans? Meg, Joey, Angelique and Caitlin are different ages, have different lives and different plans for the future, but by the time their paths cross, each of them has found that events have no respect for planning. This is a story about choices and relationships.