1. When did you start writing?
I can’t remember a time I wasn’t writing. Even as a very small child, I wrote short stories and poems. They were just the sort of thing a child would write, of course, but I kept at it and kept getting more sophisticated. Then, in the 90s, after a couple of years of trying to go professional with it, I ran the numbers on how much it cost to buy paper, use the printer, and post my best works to magazines that paid half a cent per word and decided in disgust that if I couldn’t even break even, I should just write fanfic for my own amusement.
After years of neglecting my writing, my husband, Allan, decided he had some ideas he wanted to turn into a novel. He did the writing, but I helped out with planning, character development, scientific premises, even refining jokes. Still, I was skeptical of what could be done with the book, however good it was, and he researched the markets and changes in publishing deeply. It turned out that traditional publishing houses were starting to charge many authors fees, whereas vanity press had been replaced by the print-on-demand model, making it possible for an author to release a book widely and control their product. As the Para-Earth series, which I’d helped him on, continued, I got more involved in the writing itself.
I was inspired to write my first solo novel very recently. I struggled not to dive into it until I finished my last semester in college and then I went full steam ahead– the book, Forever’s Too Long, is being released less than six months after I started it, and I’m already 17,000 words into the sequel.
2. What motivates you to write?
Most people say write what you know, but I find I thrive when I write what I love. I like wise-cracking detectives, fantasy interacting with the real world, science fiction possibilities, the little frisson of terror when supernatural suspense takes a surprising turn. When I write the kinds of stories I love to read, with characters who I love– or love to hate– then writing is fun and I can hardly wait to fix a scene by getting the turns of phrases just right.
3. What genre do you write in and what made you chose this particular genre?
The Para-Earth stories are paranormal science fiction thrillers. The Forever Detective stories are tough-guy detective/occult mysteries. I love mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy, and combining them intelligently can allow twists to take the reader to unexpected places while keeping the flavor and frame of the foundation genre.
4. What is your goal in writing? Do you have dreams where your writing should take you?
I don’t really want to be famous, but I would love for my characters to be. I dream of seeing Forever’s Too Long made into a movie starring Oscar Isaac and Hayley Atwell. I don’t see myself getting really rich, but a contract for a movie might very well take care of a down payment on a condo around here. But I want a movie mostly so I can share this with the world, and make people smile and think and connect emotionally.
I also have a bit of a more serious goal. The characters I’m writing are often underrepresented, especially in the time frame they are written in. In 1947, my wise-cracking detective is partly Latino. His girlfriend is a divorcee who escaped an abusive marriage. His best friend is a clever autistic man. I want to expand who belongs in an old-fashioned detective story and how people visualize the past.
5. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if yes, how do you deal with it?
Yes! But not on what you’d expect. I do fine with fiction, jumping to a different scene if I need a little bit of freshness while I let something lie fallow a while. But I struggle with things like the About the Author or the back of the book blurb. I decided to let some of the cheekiness I’d given my protagonist/narrator carry over into my biography. I even brought it into my author photo
6. What advice would you like to give new, hopeful authors?
Love what you’re doing, or it isn’t worth it. You are going to be researching, writing, editing, marketing; some days you’ll spend hours and not get much done, other times you’ll be productive but have no one around to celebrate it with. You’re going to be writing instead of reading, instead of hanging out at game night… all the other things you like to do, you’ll have to reorganize to have time to write. So believe what you are writing is worth it.
7. Please, tell us about your work.
Forever’s Too Long, my first solo novel is set in New York City in 1947. Rafael Jones is a former police detective, recently released from the U.S. Army and starting his own business as a private investigator. He thinks of himself as a pretty ordinary guy, but Interpol thinks he’s just the man they need to get solid evidence on Russian art smugglers and murderers so they can get cooperation from the local authorities. Between that case and helping his businessman friend try to recover some promising personnel who resigned their jobs to join a cult, he’s off to a good start. What he doesn’t know is that neither case is as simple as it seems, and his investigations take him into conflict with supernatural danger, including an almost legendary historical figure with a dreadful secret.
It’s been compared to Phillip Marlowe, Kolchak: the Night Stalker, Agent Carter, and Harry Dresden. In spite of the scary parts, I think of it as an adventure tale rather than horror, because the story has just as much light– quips, friendship, romance, and kindness– as it has of danger, angst, and darkness.
I’m 17,000 words into the sequel and literally have a dozen Forever Detective novels at least sketched out in notes. I mention it because I know the heartbreak of getting emotionally invested in a series only to have the author turn their attention to something else. But I promise– I’m a fan of Rafael Jones and I won’t stop writing him as long as other people want to read him, too.
Thank you for being my guest. It was such a pleasure to have you here!!
Thank you! These are great questions and made it easy to open up.
Helen Krummenacker is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person, so I won’t. I helped create the Para-Earth Series by Allan Krummenacker and Helen Krummenacker. I have a B.S. in Mathematics and hope that writing proofs has helped keep my fiction streamlined and avoid plot holes. Hobbies include gaming (tabletop/roleplaying), dancing, and painting. Health issues limit my activity level, but I manage to work as an accounting technician by day and escape into mystery and adventure genres at night. I’m allergic to garlic and sunlight, but I promise I don’t thirst for blood, just coffee and maybe a bit of bourbon.
Other books I have worked on are The Bridge, The Ship, The Vampyre Blogs: Coming Home, and The Vampyre Blogs: One Day at a Time.
Helen’s Novel: “Forever’s Too Long”
“Very well.” She shrugged. “You are not making this easy on yourself. Seize him!” I expected to be rushed by the acolytes I’d seen, but four newcomers had joined them. I mentioned the gardeners looked pretty dirty. These four looked worse. I thought one looked like his face had a gangrenous patch. Smelled like it, too. Another was a woman, but although she was young, her eyes were filmed over with cataracts, and her skin was waxen as well as pale. She held a bag in her hands. Newcomer three was also female, and her fingers had lost the flesh covering the tips, revealing bone. The final one didn’t fit the pattern of most of the acolytes. He had a beard, was an older man, and wore regular but ragged clothes. He was bloated and had a pattern of dark veins on his nose.
Of course, this takes longer to describe than I took to notice them and quickly decide the way out wasn’t through the crowd. There was a side door on the left, and I took a side leap, pivoted, ran a couple of steps, and then dropped to the wooden floor in a slide to dodge Gangrene’s attempted tackle. I rose to my feet at the door and spun at the sound of footsteps to kick Vagrant in the gut hard enough to knock him on his tailbone. Fingertips had gotten tripped by one of the dopey acolytes. I couldn’t see Cataracts, though. I turned the door handle, hoping I wasn’t going into a dead end or worse, a closet.
The back of my neck prickled like someone was watching me who I couldn’t see, which was weird because I was still facing the center of the room. I yanked the door open as hard and fast as I could, and heard a thud above me. Cataracts fell to the floor. She’d been lurking over the doorway, somehow. No time to ponder, I spun and ran. There was a hallway with a little stairwell to the left. Upstairs might be good for fighting, but not for flight. Forward would take me back toward the courtyard, closer to the main entrance but also a place to encounter more weirdos. The right door would possibly be an alternate path to the kitchen area, which should be connected to a back way for tradesmen to bring deliveries. You repurpose a flop hotel for a cult; you still have a hotel layout.
Available June 1st, 2019, for all e-books (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, PDF, etc.) and trade paperback!
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Also, read more about the books and the author at https://www.theforeverdetective.com/. Site includes a book trailer.