Jen: Today we welcome Helena Maeve to Romancing the Book. Helena, will you share a short bio with us?
Helena: Helena Maeve has always been globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she’s collected in her excursions. When she isn’t writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Helena: Violent Delights is a May/December romance stitched onto a cold case with a dash of family drama. Laure’s story begins as a half-hearted attempt to help close a criminal investigation into her convicted father’s misdeeds and morphs into something of a hero’s journey down memory lane. Her metamorphosis is helped in no small part by her ‘too good to be true’ neighbour who, for reasons of his own, is more than eager to see her make peace with the past.
Whodunits have always fascinated me. About two years ago, I went through a phase where everything I read was at least tangentially connected to the crime genre. Violent Delights started out as an age-gap romance with the usual trappings, but somewhere in the second draft, it decided it had other ambitions.
Here’s a short excerpt from Violent Delights:
“Do you want to come in for a drink?” I asked, cocking a hip and canting my head to one shoulder.
Ashley looked as taken aback as I felt making the offer, but what better night to be reckless? I knew what happened once I closed the door and locked it, once I found myself alone in the apartment.
My hair trigger was so sensitive that barely a week went by without at least one descent into hysteria.
Ashley’s dithering gave way to a crooked smile. “Sure…”
I decided he was handsome enough—dark and brooding, nothing like my blue-eyed Spaniard—and well worth the inevitable awkwardness of running into each other in the hall. I could be an adult about this. I could patch up my dignity with proof that I wasn’t such a broken automaton, that I didn’t need Javier to hold my hand.
I took my own lovers, made my own money.
I jumped all on my own when the door clicked shut behind us.
“Cool place,” Ashley said.
“Yeah? Sorry it’s such a mess…” It wasn’t false modesty that prompted the apology. Empty takeout cartons were still on the kitchen counter. I hadn’t done dishes in a week. Magazines and nail polish and bottles of liquor crowded together on the coffee table. True, the table was an imitation Noguchi and the couch was a Catherine Memmi design. Above it hung a trippy Tim Lane titled Keeping Theseus that featured floating skulls and outstretched arms reaching from the body of the Minotaur.
But I hadn’t invited Ashley inside to look at my etchings. I rounded on him as I stripped off my trench coat and cast it idly onto the couch. “Do you want something to drink?”
Ashley glanced at the half-to-three-quarters empty bottles of Jack and Jim laid out on the coffee table as if trying to pick between them.
“Or we could skip the pretense,” I drawled. He looked up and I thought I spied a touch of surprise in his gaze. He opened his mouth—perhaps to tell me I had the wrong idea—but he seemed to lose his train of thought once I tugged off my sweater and tank top.
I stood before him in my bra, my heart about to burst through my ribcage like something out of Alien, neither of us saying anything for a fraught, tenuous moment. Then I took a step forward and Ashley met me halfway. Our lips connected in a brutal kiss.
My bad day was about to get a lot better.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Helena: Is it a cliché to say I can’t ever recall not writing? I’ve woken up thinking of writing so many mornings now that it’s a bit like coffee. I needs it, precious.
I do remember, and I don’t know if this qualifies as a call story, that the first time I watched Miss Congeniality was also the first time I thought of writing as my talent. I was utterly disgruntled to discover that it wasn’t remotely suitable to showing off on stage at a beauty pageant. That was fourteen years ago but until recently I didn’t think that becoming an actual, real life, published author was a possibility. I’m very grateful to the folks at Totally Bound for taking a chance on me.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Helena: I try to write every day, even if it’s just a scene or an idea that I woke up with. When I’m working on a novel, the goal is always to solve the problems that arise during the first draft. I’ve discovered that between idea, outline and finished draft, a manuscript can pull a complete one-eighty and neglect to inform its author until the final third. Taking breaks during the writing process seems to help catch the first hints that a story is turning traitor. Unfortunately, it not a foolproof system. Reworking stories from the ground up seems to be the newest addition to my shaky routine.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Helena: I’d love to do something historical. I admire writers who are confident enough in their research to boldly go into Victorian England and throw in automatons or steam-powered jetpacks… which I suppose tells you the genre I’d most like to fiddle with. I’ll confess I’ve taken stabs at steampunk before, but the results are buried deep in my drafts folder and not likely to surface any time soon. As for a genre I’ll probably stay away from, I’d say it’s horror. I’m such a wuss I can’t even watch Supernatural.
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Helena: I’d love to be able to hop around in time. Geographically, I’m really interested in pre-industrial UK, imperial China and ancient Egypt. If I could be whisked away for a tour, say by a helpful man in a police box, I’d like to visit all three. And I wouldn’t worry about packing. Otherwise, I’d pack pepper spray, pepper spray, and did I mention pepper spray? I watch Outlander. I know what goes on in the past.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Helena: I’ll soon be returning to my love of old spies with Shadow Play, an M/M series featuring my two old friends: Intrigue and Bad Decisions. The first installment is available for early download from Pride Publishing.