Welcome to my stop on Helen Trevorrow’s In The Wake blog tour, with Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Helen Trevorrow…..
ABOUT HELEN TREVORROW
Helen Trevorrow is a graduate of the 2016 Faber Academy creative writing programme. She studied at Leeds University and has worked in marketing and public relations in London. She is a specialist food and drink PR. Helen’s debut novel IN THE WAKE is a feminist crime thriller about family, unrealised trauma and alcoholism. Helen has ghost-written many articles for newspapers, magazines and websites. She lives in Brighton, Sussex with her wife and child.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
It has to have a foot in reality, and I have to be able to relate it to my life somehow. Where it progresses from there can be anything but I do like to start with a character. Ideas usually stem from everyday occurrences where you ask, what if? It will take some time for an idea to take hold, and show itself more fully.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I never write exact versions of people onto the page, but my characters will usually be (what I call) an amalgam – a bundle of two or three people that I know. I may add in a characteristic that is real and a habit of someone else that is close to me. It might be the way that they stand, or fiddle with their hair, or a phrase that they constantly repeat. People never ever recognise their own habits,or any trace of themselves in a story, but many people think (incorrectly) that characters are based on them when they are not.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I love coming up with names. It takes me a long time and I can get to draft three or four before I get the right combination. I like alliteration and punchy names that stick. I try to avoid putting people off by picking anything too posh or too rough. I like my female protagonists to have a strong one-syllable name. I had one character in In The Wake who was changed shortly before publication, so I certainly think about her as being called something different. If it’s a peripheral character then I don’t name them because I don’t want the reader to be drawn into having a deeper relationship with a named character because the name lends meaning so it is important to get it right.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
My writing style has morphed from an organic process into something that is much more planned. After an initial idea I will start to write from a couple of different points of view and try out the voice. At the same time I will work on the main plot points so I know the overall journey. This will morph into a chunk by chunk detailed plan of action and character. Only then will I start to write properly. It will certainly take a year to write and possibly longer but once I start this phase there is an overwhelming drive to write it all down. I use google docs and write / edit from my pc / laptop and phone. Once I complete a first draft I set it aside for anything up to two months, then read it and make notes, and update plot. I then edit for a few months. At that stage I will let a trusted friend read and critique. This is usually my friend, the author, Dan Dalton. He will give me a critique and I will make further changes. I think of it like cooking; reducing a stock or a sauce; bringing the story down so that what is left is bursting with flavour.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
So many great writers that I admire and envy but my favourites are all women: Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Naomi Alderman, Nell Zink and Toni Morrison.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I am lucky enough to know lots of authors but I have been a lifelong fan of Sarah Waters and I’d like to ask her how far she would be prepared to go reframing women and sexuality in history – where else could she go? How far back?
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes, and I’m looking through some of my old books now with my daughter. I am shocked how sexist my favourite picture book, Usbourne’s Wizards, Princes and Gnomes is. It’s full of ‘ugly, fat princesses with moles on their noses’ who can never get husbands.
When did you start to write?
I started writing at age 8 (The Adventures of Ginger), and had my first novel published aged 42.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Wow, I would never rewrite someone elses work, however I do love a bit of fan fiction and once wrote extensive additions to Grey’s Anatomy!
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I am green with envy at many books; and bursting with admiration for many others. The only books I wish I had written are my own, I wish that they could be better, that I could write as fluidly and compellingly as many other writers. The writers I really admire for their simplicity are Alice Munro and Anita Brookner who tell a story slowly with a thundering punch at the end delivering so much more than you bargained for. Anita Brookner’s, A Start In Life is so sad, simple and beautifully written. I loved this book. It is so compelling that it draws you in and long after you feel so sentimental for the world and what could have been.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
The Accidental Publicist
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’ve been reading a lot of hard core sci fi recently so I think it would be interesting to have Breq from Ann Leckie’s award winning Ancillary Sword series. Breq is the combined consciousness of a space battleship – could make for an interesting lunch?
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing a sci-fi thriller based in Brighton. I’m in the latter stages of refining, editing and polishing. I’m very excited about it.
Tell us about your last release?
In The Wake is a feminist crime thriller about family, unrealised trauma, alcoholism, secrecy, and strong women teetering on the edge of disaster. The main character, Kay, devastated by her mother’s death, is struggling to maintain her high-flying career. When called upon to handle a gruesome discovery in London’s Royal Albert Dock on behalf of her client, she soon becomes entangled in the mystery she’s been brought in to manage. As she spirals out of control, long suppressed memories surface. What lengths will she go to in order to right the wrongs of her past?
Do you have a new release due?
I am working on a speculative thriller but there’s still a lot to do!
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I love to celebrate with a nice boozy lunch. My ideal place for that would be Riddle and Finn’s on Brighton seafront.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @helentrevorrow or visit www.helentrevorrow.net
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Helen 🙂
When a body is found floating in London’s Royal Albert Dock, successful public relations expert Kay Christie is sent to quiet the media, but things get complicated when it emerges that she knew the victim.
As events spiral out of control, Kay discovers that those close to her may be harbouring another secret – the story of a missing girl. Can Kay discover the truth before her life unravels and she risks losing everything?
In the Wake questions whether we can ever truly leave our pasts behind and explores the lengths that we will go to protect the people that we love.
happy reading 🙂