Monday, 24 February 2014

Getting to Know... Michelle Helliwell

Today on the blog, aspiring historical romance author Michelle Helliwell. Michelle juggles a day job, family life and her obsession for Lego video games with her all too precious writing time. Sometimes the bricks win...

 1. What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?
I write historical romance. What attracts me? I’m not sure, but the historical has always loomed large in my imagination. My undergrad degree is in Medieval European history, with a splash of Atlantic Canadian history on the side. I grew up in the shadow of Citadel Hill, played on the ruins of old forts in Point Pleasant Park. I love connection between what was and what is now. That, and the clothes were pretty awesome!  Love them puffy shirts.

 2. What’s your writing strength?  What do you think separates you from other authors?
Craftwise – I think I have a strong voice, and dialogue comes very naturally for me. I used to think I wasn’t very strong with my description, but I’ve been told otherwise, so I’ll take that as a positive.  As to what separates me - this is a tough question.  But, frankly, I write the historicals I want to read, and there of them out there like mine - which probably sounds awfully snobbish. It doesn't mean I think they are better - just different. My historical settings are not rooted in ballrooms and parlours. In fact, that’s usually the last place my heroines want to be.
3. What’s your writing kryptonite?  What is always tough for you to tackle?
Plotting. External motivation. I’m not a plotter by nature and perhaps never will be, but I’m learning that I need structure and some outlining to help guide my story. The idea of outlining heavily sends me into fits – I don’t think I’ll ever manage that, but without it I get lost and have to write my way out. I've also needed to get over some serious mother guilt and make the time to write. However, I'm blessed with a supportive family who make that easier for me.

4. Do you work with critique partners?
I do and they are great. You need fresh eyes on your work and each of them comes with a slightly different perspective. They are each talented writers themselves and can get to the heart of some of my story issues very quickly. I firmly believe they've taken my writing so much further. 

5. Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
I enjoy myths and fairy tales – always have. I love the idea of stories and themes that transcend time and culture. But mostly my ideas come out of nowhere – there is just something that triggers them – often quite mundane things – and I go from there.

6. What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
Stick with it and just finish the darned book. Perseverance counts in this game, as well as intestinal fortitude and a willingness to trust yourself.

7. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’m working on the second book in my Happily Ever After series – all based in Fairy Tales – called No Prince Charming. It’s based (as the name would suggest) on the tale of Snow White. I'll make a decision about self-publishing the first book in that series - Not Your Average Beauty - over the course of the summer.

Michelle blogs regularly at her website, tweets occasionally and Pins far too much.


  1. Hi Michelle, I love the title of your next book, No Prince Charming. Where did you come up with that? I love titles, and am often attracted to the book because of the title.

  2. I agree - great title, Michelle! I'm also intrigued by your 'uncharacteristic' historical romance settings and think many other potential readers would be as well. Can you give us a hint?:)

  3. Stella, the intrepid Heidi Hamburg came up with that title...and it fits the hero perfectly I think. Magi - I've always been a fan of swashbucklers and classic gothic romances. I can't say that there are no parlours, but thus far my plots involve people involved in nefarious dealings, and characters that need to work together to save the day...probably not much of a hint. Though for me the romance will always come first though. For more, you can try here:

  4. Michelle, I can't wait to read your books! I love heroines who defy the norm. :)

  5. Your books sound wonderful, Michelle. The title Not Your Average Beauty really grabs me!

  6. I love your Happily Ever After series, Michelle. Can't wait to see it in print or digital!!