My first Author Interview for 2020 is with Wild Rose Press sistah, Helen C. Johannes. Helen writes fantasy romance laden with rich characters and lush settings through the pages. She has a new book out, LORD OF DRUEMARWIN, and she’s giving you a sneak peek at the end of this interview, so stick around.
First, lets’s find out a bit about Helen’s 2 lives – the writer, and the gal:
Helen C. Johannes, The Writer
1. What drives you to write?
Stories in my head clamoring for attention and characters who simply won’t be denied their day in print.
2. What genre(s) of Romance do you write, and why?
Fantasy romance. My beloved first book was a collection of fairy tales from the European tradition. Plus, I spent formative years in the heart of Europe’s castle country where all things medieval surrounded me and history fascinated me. I could have gone into historical romance but for one important trait: I really, really like playing by my own rules. Fantasy romance lets me build medieval-style worlds that deliver the kind of storylines I want, limited only by my imagination.
3. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?
I read across genres but my go-to genre is romantic suspense, both historical and contemporary. I found Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart early on, and the seamless blend of love and danger hooked me. That’s probably why I incorporate some kind of ‘ticking time bomb’ in my fantasy romances.
4. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday?
As often as I can but not every day. Life has a way of setting its own schedule.
5. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?
I write on my laptop at the kitchen table. It’s the warmest, sunniest room in the house (I live in a northern climate) and snacks/beverages are readily available. Plus, I’ve put my comfy office chair right up to the table
6. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel-vision?
When I’m deep into a scene and the words are flowing, I’m totally oblivious to anything else. Most days, though, I need quiet, or at least no one talking around or to me.
7. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?
Sometimes I put on a little music, but it has to be instrumental or I’ll listen to the words rather than concentrate on my work. Lord of the Rings soundtrack or Enya, for example.
8. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?
The idea originated from unfinished business in PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE and, oddly enough, the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. Book one ends with their world on the brink of a new beginning. I had introduced a love interest for a major character near the end, and their love story just begged, nagged to be told in that context. My heroine faces the dilemma of the outsider, the princess who is tested by the proverbial pea to see if she and her love are worthy of the hero, his people, and the new alliances. I had fun writing all the complications that ensue before the happily ever after.
9. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?
Kind of both, together. I’m what I call an ‘into the mist’ writer. That means I’m a pantser with an initial, loose plan of some serious problems for my characters to solve. The way they solve those problems usually morphs as I go along and as the characters reveal more about themselves. For me, the proverbial carrot that engages me in any story is finding out where it goes and enjoying the ride.
10. What 3 words describe you, the writer?
Intuitive, creative, layered (Peggy here: I lovelovelove that description – layered!!! fabulous!)
Helen, the Gal:
Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!
I double-majored in German and English.
- Who was your first love and what age were you?
My grandmother’s neighbor’s boy; I think I was 12, he was 14.
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….
Meeting my husband; we danced the polka, badly, and talked for hours.
- What’s one thing you love about your significant other?
He’s my best friend and full partner.
- If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it item, what would it be?
Milk chocolate—as long as I could still have dark chocolate
- What three words describe you, the person?
Reserved, problem-solver, questioner
- If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?
I don’t sing. Honestly, nobody wants me to sing.
- If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?
I would go to Tuscany with the leads from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Breathing Room. I’d sit down to a homemade dinner outside the little farmhouse, eat all those fabulous foods, sample the local wines, and soak up the raucous interplay of that wild and loving multi-generational family.
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
1. Favorite sound – Ocean or lake waves
2. Least favorite sound – Crying—babies, cats, dogs
3. Best song every written – Bridge over Troubled Water
4. Worst song ever written – Barking Jingle Bells
5. Favorite actor and actress – Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn
6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) – I’m pretty happy in my own skin
7. What turns you on? – Sunshine, warm temps, and best friends
8. What turns you off? – Lies
9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) – I don’t remember words, but I remember painfully knocking knees while dancing—once—with an enthusiastic but inept partner.
10. What’s your version of a perfect day? – Relaxing on an ocean cruise liner on a warm, sunny day at sea.
(Peggy here: I feel like we could be sistahs, Helen!! I lovelovelove Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn and grew up watching their movies and memorizing all the lines! Hee Hee)
And now, a little about LORD OF DRUEMARWIN
PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance
In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.
“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
You can get your copy here:
A little more about Helen:
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.
You can connect with Helen here: