Today we welcome Helena Hunting to the blog. She’s the author of the Clipped Wings series and the upcoming Pucked. Both have been fantastically popular when they were published online. Hunting is now taking her work into independent publishing. I wanted to speak to her today to find out how she ticks. Also, I’m a pretty big fan, so my this interview is totally for my own benefit. Just kidding. 😉
Thank you for visiting the Write Divas today! You have had some great success with your Clipped Wings series. It’s largely an angst-filled romantic drama, for your new book Pucked, it’s a complete turnaround; a romantic sports comedy. Can you tell us a little bit about it? The writing process?
Back in to 2009 I was finishing up the first draft of Clipped Wings and decided I needed to start another project. I had about ten chapters to go in Clipped Wings, and it was depressing as hell. If you can believe it, the original version was more depressing than the published one. I figured my best plan would be to write something totally different, swing the pendulum as it were, which is how Pucked was born.
I started Clipped Wings with an idea of where I wanted the story to go, but I didn’t create an outline, which I’ve now learned I can’t do. Not unless I want the story to be half a million words. That’s a lot to edit. For Pucked, I outlined the entire mess and tried my best not be a complete squirrel while writing. It worked for the most part. The original draft was only 180k versus the psycho-ness of Clipped Wings which was 430k pre-machete.
As for the writing process, I went through all the scenarios that would embarrass the hell out of me. Then I took the worst of them and wrote them into a book with a superhot hockey player and an awkward, kinda weird female protagonist. And of course there’s sex. Hot sex, embarrassing sex, sweet sex. There are also references to beavers.
Pucked was a Twilight fan fiction called The Misapprehension of Bella Swan. What have you done to it to get it ready for independent publishing?
I cut the story by almost half and reworked the back end. *snicker* The awesome thing about fanfic was the ability to post as I wrote. I’d finish a chapter, have it betaed and voila, post!
With a serial, you can get away with a little (or a lot) of repetition because your readers only get about 5k at a time. Those overused phrases and crutch words aren’t as much of a glaring issue in short bursts. When you put it all together in novel format, those issues become much more apparent, so the hackity-hack becomes a necessity.
In revising and renaming Pucked—because let’s face it The Misapprehension of Violet Hall (regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players) was way too long—I combed through and cut out as much of the superfluous stuff as I could without compromising the integrity of the story.
Because I’m close to the story, content editing is essential. I wanted to make sure the vision I had still worked in this new, different medium. It’s been quite the process and I’ve loved it.
Violet Hall in Pucked is a big departure from your character Tenley Page in Clipped Wings. Which character was harder to write?
They both had their challenges. Tenley was difficult because she was so broken, and so bogged down with guilt. With a character whose emotions are bottled up, it was sometimes a challenge to get inside her head and express exactly where she was psychologically. Pain can be painful to convey authentically.
Violet is a ridiculous character. She’s fun and awkward and silly, which makes her easier to write at times and more difficult at others. It’s hard to pin down serious moments with her because she’s always deflecting with sarcasm. But there’s growth in learning how to deal with real problems instead of hiding behind jokes and burying your head in the sand.
All characters have their moments, but I felt at times, Violet was much less difficult to deal with. Maybe because she wasn’t nearly as traumatized (at least not by outside forces beyond her control). Almost all of her embarrassment is a direct result of her own choices, however inadvertent.
You self-published your book The Librarian Principle and now going the indie route with Pucked as well. But you went the traditional route with Clipped Wings and published with Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. What do think is the hardest part of self-publishing your own books? Do you like the process better with being an indie or with a house?
There’s a huge learning curve with both traditional and indie pubbing. The Librarian Principle held its own set of challenges because I had absolutely no idea how much work I was setting myself up for by self-pubbing. The traditional route gave me some inkling, but self-publishing is certainly a different bag of hammers.
I’ve been so fortunate to have a plethora of women to lean on for this whole experience. My editor, proofer, and formatter are all people I’ve met vicariously through the fandom, and that is amazing. It’s such a unique community, one that I’m fortunate to be a part of.
Indie pub gives me a great deal of freedom, which is something I grew accustomed to with posting stories online. I choose what stays in the story and what goes. The cover art is up to me, my cover designer, and photographer. I also determine the release date with the help of my PR. It’s my vision from beginning to end. Sometimes that level of control is as terrifying as it is gratifying. Most of the time, I really enjoy it.
How do you like writing in two different genres? Which do you prefer?
I like to flip-flop between humor and angst. I need both in my life, which may be difficult for readers to manage, because they never really know what they’re getting until they’re knee deep in the characters. Clipped Wings is a slow burn, Pucked is a slap-shot to the nuts. I don’t like boxes. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre or one type of story. I enjoy writing NA just as much as erotica and eventually I’d like to work on a paranormal project, so it’s all about what feels comfortable at the moment.
With the success of many indie authors, who do you have your eye on? What are your favorite books at the moment?
I’ve seen Penelope Ward and Karina Halle do amazing things this year. I love Tarryn Fisher, Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire, Debra Anastasia, Daisy Prescott, Shay Savage, Liv Morris, Emma Chase, Alice Clayton, Leisa Rayven, SL Scott, Pepper Winters, Mia Sheridan… The list is endless.
I’m always blown away by the talent out there. Self-publishing is fabulous in that it gives new authors the chance to get their names and their stories out there, but it’s also difficult to keep up in an industry that’s ever-changing and growing quickly.
What books do you have coming out this year? What do your fans have to look forward too?
Pucked is coming in May. I have an anthology piece coming in the fall, it’s NA and angsty, and I plan to publish Fractures in Ink in the fall, which is Chris and Sarah’s story from the Clipped Wings series. I also have plans for a second book in the Pucked series for early 2016 and a whacked out paranormal sometime in 2016. So a few fun projects.
Sounds amazing! And I’m freaking excited!! Lastly, what advice would you give someone starting out in indie publishing?
Gather your resources, do research, plan, give yourself time to execute, and find people who can help support you along the way. This is a difficult industry, but there’s room for so many amazing voices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s putting her degree in English Lit to good use by writing contemporary erotic romance. She is the author of Clipped Wings, her debut novel, and Inked Armor.