Heroes, swords, and an unexpected journey into a cursed warrior’s heart describe the suspenseful, fantastical novel Bloodstone, by author Helen Johannes. With a modern day fairy tale vibe, this romantic adventure combines the intrigue of Beauty and the Beast with the stuff swashbuckling legends are made of.
Interviewer: Christy Campbell
Tell us, Helen, what first inspired you to start writing?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school. I ‘decided’ to take up the craft seriously when my children were small and I needed an outlet for my creative energy.
Where did the idea come about for your latest release BLOODSTONE?
This story grew out of the Cupid and Psyche myth. In the myth, Psyche is forced to wed what she thinks is a monster so horrible he refuses to let her see him. They can meet only in the dark. It’s a story about trust, and I wanted to build on that concept with a cursed hero who’s taken on a heavy load of guilt. He needs to be redeemed by a woman courageous enough to do ‘anything’ to save him.
What attracted you to writing fantasy romance?
I love fairy tales and Arthurian legend. There’s something fascinating about a hero with a sword on horseback. Plus, my earliest favorite book was a collection of fairy tales. Besides the well-known tales of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, this one had stories like The Donkey Prince, Snow White and Rose Red, The Tin Soldier, and The Dancing Princesses, to name a few.
I’ve always been drawn to the stories about heroes in disguise, about people who are misjudged or discounted by others because of appearances. The Donkey Prince, for instance, is about a prince born with a donkey’s body due to a curse on his parents. They give him the best of everything, and he becomes a skilled lute player, but he’s still a donkey. Tired of being looked upon as a freak in his home town, he decides to take to the road, playing his lute, until one young woman falls in love with the sensitive man inside the ugly skin. That transformation from beast to beloved is a theme that I’ve always enjoyed reading, and it’s probably what drew me to the romance genre in the most elemental sense.
You’ve become published! What was the journey to success like for you?
To anyone who has any aspirations to be published someday—or to achieve any other creative dreams—I’d like to affirm that turtles do win.
That’s right—turtles, the slow and steady plodders. I am a turtle. It’s taken me years to realize my dream of becoming a published author. Lots of rejection letters, contest finals, conferences and workshops later, I have two books available from The Wild Rose Press. I’m not likely to become a household name, but I can hold my dreams in my hand today. So can you. Just keep plodding along.
Any steadfast work rituals in your writing process?
I write in the kitchen on a laptop at the table where I’ve installed my cushy office chair. I like the sunlight from my southerly window and the easy access to the microwave for hot tea. Sometimes I listen to music while I write, usually a soundtrack or something Celtic-inspired. I need something where I don’t understand the lyrics so I won’t try to listen to them. The music for me is about creating a ‘zone.’
What’s the best perk of being an author?
Realizing a dream has to be the foremost. Another great perk is connecting with authors and readers around the world. Writing is a solitary business, so making connections to other creative people who listen to the ‘voices in their heads’ is a definite plus.
What are your ultimate ambitions as a writer?
I’d like to establish a reputation for writing well-crafted books that have something to say about the power of love to heal and inspire. And I’d like to have fun doing it.
What’s the most unusual or challenging character you’ve ever written?
In BLOODSTONE I took on two challenging characters. The first is a blind boy, and I had to imagine the world as he would encounter it without using the familiar sense of sight. Everything for him became about the sounds and scents and sensations. The other challenging character was a Wehrland she-lion. I used my knowledge of growing up with pet cats to describe her behavior. As it turned out, she was the most fun to write.
Okay, who’s your author ‘crush’ and what makes him or her so great?
I’d love to pick Rick Riordan’s brain. In his Percy Jackson series he manages to juggle multiple storylines with vivid and unique characters while keeping the plot running at full gallop—and he sustains it over a series of books.
What were your favorite books growing up?
Fairy tales and books about horses, definitely—what little girl doesn’t love horses (or unicorns)? The stories of a boy and his horse, or a girl and her horse, feeds right into my historical bent. I do so love a hero on horseback with a sword. From fairy tales to medieval knights isn’t a big leap, especially when fairy tales led me to THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and Middle Earth. It’s no wonder that my two published novels are fantasy romances featuring heroes on horseback with swords.
Any words for aspiring writers?
Read. Write. Finish something. Join a writers’ group. Share your work and get feedback. Enter contests. Learn from your mistakes. Cycle through all steps repeatedly.
Where can we learn more about the published works of Helen Johannes?
THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE (debut book)
BLOODSTONE (new release)
Websites and Links:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Helen-C.-Johannes/e/B003JJDQWS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
The Wild Rose Press author page: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=742
Buy link to Amazon:
THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE: http://amzn.com/B003JH8CO2
Buy link to Barnes and Noble: