Step into the world of fantasy with author Helen Garraway as she shares her inspirations, writing process, and the themes she explores in her captivating novels.
In this interview, Helen discusses her love for fantasy and how she crafts intricate worlds and characters that resonate with readers. Join us on this literary journey that delves into the essence of fantasy storytelling.
Get ready to discover a new author and be transported to realms filled with adventure, magic, and unforgettable tales.
So grab yourself a cuppa and embark on an enchanting adventure with this talented fantasy author.
What inspired you to start writing in the fantasy genre?
I wrote what I love to read. My favourite genre is fantasy and I love world building. I came up with the idea behind the Sentinals series while walking through local woods. I wondered what tales the trees could tell since they had stood there for up to hundred years, if not more. And then I thought what if they could talk, and that led to what if there were people in the trees, and so was born the Sentinals series.
I was at a crossroads in my life, big changes, and I suddenly had time on my hands, and so I began writing, a creative dam was released and out poured seven books! I have gradually been working my way through them, editing, polishing and self publishing them.
How do you approach world-building in your stories?
With the Sentinals series it grew as I wrote each book. Each book is set in a different land, and the terrain and environment contributes to the plot and atmosphere. With the importance of woods and trees, the first country was like the leafy shires I live in the UK. Plenty of water, rain or rivers and plenty of greenery. I didn’t want to explain or describe technology, so my world was a no-to-low technology world and then that led to what was possible. Out of that grew the history of the world, the political and religious structure, and then the conflicts.
For the SoulMist series my starting point was light and dark, the land of angels was sunny and bright, the land of the soulless was dim and grim. The environment and atmosphere were driven by that starting point, but as the first line says ‘Not all that was good was in the light; there was good in the dark too, if you bothered to look.’ And then I wanted to play with the idea of prejudice and assumptions. Why should the shadowy world be bad just because they were in the shadows? And off you go!
Can you walk us through your writing process?
Well, I could try. I am a bit spontaneous! Though the more I write, the more I have become a planner. I know where I’m starting and where I want to end, the middle can end up a surprise! I tend to write scenes in isolation. As I think of them, I have to capture the idea before I forget it, and then slot them into the timeline after. The most frustrating part is when a scene pops into your head for a different book when you’re trying to finish off another. Distractions happen all the time for writers, sometimes I think it is amazing we actually finish a book!
Would you survive in your own fantasy world?
Yes, I think so. I would love to sun myself on the beaches of Birtoli, though not so sure about the fish diet!
What themes do you explore in your work?
At the heart of my Sentinals story is the chosen one, a person who would never have believed he was the one to save the world, and the fact that he doesn’t have to everything on his own. It is not wrong to ask for expect others to help. He has a supporting cast of wonderful characters which varies from book to book, but reinforce the found family supporting each other no matter the task. There is also a theme of protection, of protecting those who can’t protect themselves, the Sentinals are the guardians, of the people and the land.
What do you consider to be your biggest influences as a writer?
I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on, but my love of fantasy comes from reading David Eddings ‘Belgarion’ and ‘Mallorean’ series. They would be my main influence, followed by Lois Bujold McMasters and her fantasy books. The Curse of Chalion being my favourite, but I also love Space opera, thrillers, historical books, and more, all of which contribute to your writing as you don’t just write a ‘fantasy’ it has romance, action, betrayal, the world has a history, everything feeds into the final story.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your stories?
I needed to find natural substances that explode when combined. I didn’t have gunpowder so I was looking for which natural products I could substitute and describe, with it being possible in my world! Fertilizers can be quite interesting!!
What do you hope readers take away from your stories?
I hope readers manage to escape into a new world and forget their real life. A moment of pure entertainment and escapism. I don’t claim to have any moral high ground, but I hope there is an element of good prevailing over bad, and that we should look after each other and work together for a better life.
Would you rather have a pet dragon or a unicorn, why?
I would love a pet dragon, they are just so beautiful and varied, and I would love to fly!
If you could have any magical ability, what would it be?
To be able to Heal would be amazing, preferably me as well!
If you were stuck on a deserted island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Birlerion. I love him and he is so resourceful. He’d find a way to get us off the island. I would also have the chance to understand him further, as there is much still hidden and yet to be written about!.
What would you name your pet dragon?
Hmmm! This might change a few times till I get the right name. The one that’s feels just right! I suppose it depends on what he looks like. Keair, maybe… or Keaire (just added an ‘e”) I would play with the letters and sounds and evolve the them into one that feels just right. For example my Arifels, started out as Alfie, the name of my cat as he was the inspiration, and evolved from there.
Where is the best place to start reading your work?
https://geni.us/FNRirThe first book in the epic fantasy Sentinals Series is Sentinals Awaken, though there is a prequel novella Sentinals Stirring where the main characters first meet, it’s a free download, if you sign up to my newsletter, (link on my website http://www.helengarraway.com) or you can purchase it via Amazon. The Sentinal series currently comprises of five books and three novellas.
The first book in the Romantic Fantasy SoulMist series is SoulBreather. I’ve just finished writing the second book, so on to editing.
All my books are on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited. Paperback/Hardcover can be found at the bookstore of your choice, and the first two books of the Sentinals series are available in Audible, with the third currently being narrated.
About the Author:
Helen Garraway is the USA Today Bestselling author of the award-winning epic fantasy Sentinal series which was first published in 2020, followed by the first book of the fantasy romance SoulMist series, SoulBreather, released in 2022 as part of the Realm of Darkness boxset.
An avid reader of many different fiction genres, a love she inherited from her mother, Helen writes fantasy novels and also enjoys paper crafting and scrapbooking as an escape from the pressure of the day job.
Having graduated from the University of Southampton with a Degree in Politics and International Relations, she remains an active member of their alumni.
Find Helen online:
Everything else: https://linktr.ee/HelenGarraway