Greetings from the Ether,
With Hinnom 008 now available, we thought we’d interview some of the authors involved to help get the word out about their pieces. Join us as we interview Helen Power, and as we dive into the making of her terrifying post-apocalyptic tale “Sundown.”
CP: Can you tell us a little about yourself? How you came to write dark fiction?
HP: I’ve always been interested in the dark and the twisted, but I only started writing four years ago. I had a story in the back of my head that I just couldn’t shake, so I decided to try putting it on paper. Not long afterwards, when I was digging through my childhood artwork that my parents hoarded in their basement, I found a story I wrote when I was six. The printing was clunky and I’d clearly had trouble with writing in between the lines, but finding this was a kind of aha moment for me. As I read my surprisingly-disturbing story, I realized that I was meant to keep writing. I remember very clearly when I first wrote this story. My mother found it and showed it to my Grade 2 teacher. I was mortified. In case you’re wondering, the story was about a vampire who lived in the woods and attacked children with needles. I’m still not sure why he didn’t use his teeth. I guess that’s my very first plot hole. I should have it framed.
CP: “Sundown” is a horrifying tale with a heartbreaking twist in its conclusion. Can you tell us how it came to fruition? What inspired the piece?
HP: I wrote the first draft of this story as a writing challenge with my mother. We both had the same first line and an hour to write. I started with no idea where the plot was going. All I knew was that Trevor needed to get home, or else something unspeakably horrible would happen. Ideas revealed themselves to me during his long, tension-and pothole-ridden car ride. I have to say, I enjoyed the journey immensely.
CP: Where exactly do you hope your writing takes you? What goals do you hope to achieve?
HP: Right now, I’m trying to simply enjoy the act of writing, although my ambition makes me keep submitting my stories to be published. I think my ultimate goal is to disturb as many people as I possibly can before I die. In all seriousness, I love my day job, and I have no delusions that I’ll be able to support myself on my writing. That said, I do plan to continue writing and publishing my stories.
CP: Do you have any other projects you’re working on? What does the future hold for Helen Power?
HP: I’m working on a handful of short stories, each in a different state of completion. The genres range from cozy mystery to horror. I’m also on the final edit of my first novel—at least—the first that I’m going to try to get published. This fall I have a couple of other short stories that will be published. I have a dystopian tale that’s in an anthology called Futuristic Canada by Dark Helix Press that will be released in September. I also have a horror short story in the upcoming Halloween issue of Kyanite Press’s Journal of Science Fiction & Fantasy.
CP: What has been your favorite moment thus far, as an author?
HP: When I published my first short story, I was so nervous! I’d decided to promote it on my social media channels as a first step to creating an “author platform.” I was terrified that I would receive dozens of emails proclaiming me to be a fraud. A new follower direct messaged me on Instagram to say that she loved the story and that it spoke to what she was going through in her life. I got chills! This was the first time someone who wasn’t my mother loved my writing. (Am I mentioning my mother too much in this interview?)
CP: What writer do you find the most inspiring, living or dead? Why?
HP: Richard Matheson. One of the first horror anthologies that I ever read was written by him. I’d just seen the movie I am Legend, so I picked up this book. I fell in love with how Matheson played with different writing techniques to create tension and fear in the reader. I hope to be able to instill that level of discomfort and terror in my readers someday!
CP: We always like to end our interviews with a little tidbit of advice for the many readers who are writers themselves. What’s the best advice you could give to a new author?
HP: I find that a lot of people have a hard time getting words down on the page. They get caught up in their insecurities, their doubts, and they might be able to write a page or two, but then they edit and edit until they nearly go insane. I think the best advice that I can give anyone is to write for yourself. Don’t worry about who your target audience is, whether or not you should be catering to what the expectations are for your genre, or how to spell “cemetery.” Just write. Have fun. The rest can be fixed during edits. If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, then the reader won’t enjoy what they’re reading.
Helen Power, originally from Ottawa, Canada, is an academic librarian working in Windsor, Canada. In her spare time, she haunts deserted cemeteries, loses her heart to dashing thieves, and cracks tough cases, all from the comfort of her writing nook. She has several short stories published, including ones in Suspense Magazine, Polar Borealis, and a Canada 150 anthology published by Dark Helix Press. She is currently working on her debut novel.
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