Long and Short Reviews welcomes Helen Henderson, whose newest release Dragon Destiny was just released May 7.
"Technically, Dragon Destinyhas taken flight and is my latest release. The awakening of his dragon soul twin brought Dragshi Lord Branin the freedom of flight and near-eternal life, but not happiness. For eons, he feared he would never find a woman with her own dragon soul partner—until one day another's mind touched his," Helen told me. "But I haven’t fully shifted mental gears yet and in some ways, I still think of Windmaster, the story of Lady Ellspeth, the silver-haired captain of the Sea Falcon, and the dark-haired archmage Dal, as my latest release. Especially since writing a tale who features a sea captain proved an interesting challenge for someone who isn’t that fond of the water. I was fortunate to have a career sailor for a resource. And as for Ellspeth, with the gold bracelets of command and a ship, she was secure in her future, but between her plans and her destiny stood magic...and love."
Helen's been writing for almost as long as she can remember. She started writing her own stories after reading the works of author such as E.E. Doc Smith and Barbara Hambly.
"Their work sent my imagination to places beyond the stars and on journeys to worlds of fantasy and I couldn’t stay earthbound," she told me. "One of the earliest stories recently uncovered from deep in the bottom of a drawer was from the 1960s. No computers or word processors aided (or interfered) with the creative process. A number two pencil and lined paper captured my imaginary adventures dreamed of while sitting in the shade of a huge weeping willow tree."
Helen has actually been a writer, in one form or another, for most of her adult life. Computer code and 'how-to' manuals gave way as the technical writer started working for a more public audience as a feature-story writer and correspondent.
"I'm proud of my two local histories, Matawan and Aberdeen – Of Town and Field and Around Matawan and Aberdeen, both published under the Arcadia Press imprint. As things come full circle, the urges that I had suppressed years earlier to guide readers through the stars, among worlds of imagination, or back to the Old West re-emerged. Unlike my more youthful attempts at writing fiction, acceptance letters replaced the earlier rejection ones. A science fiction short story led to a fantasy, then more works in the genres were put under contract in ezines and print publications. After those first hesitant steps, I took the plunge," she said. "A great critique group, a supportive husband, and my debut novel, Windmaster, was created. The roller coaster ride started when Champagne Books placed the novel under contract. If I had to describe my journey to publication, I would say it is a winding path up a mountainside. Fiction and fact, the present and the past, all blend. And as far as the end of the trip, that is still being written."
Another reason it is hard to claim a particular book as her latest is the fact that she's recently received the cover for Windmaster Legacy, the sequel to Windmaster, which releases this summer. She's also working on another story, with the working title Imprisoned which tells the tale of a mage whose soul is imprisoned in stone. Only love and blood from another wizard can free him.
Helen uses a pseudonym when she writes in the western genre—she inherited a love of reading from her grandmother and mother and honors her grandmother by using her name.
"An aside, Ambush Luck, a story in the Dreamspell Goddess anthology, is my latest piece written as Jessie Treon," she said. "Although I did not use her name, my mother's reward is more prosaic—bragging rights. She gets to pass around to her friends in the senior housing the magazines and the anthologies my work appears in. Of course, my pieces are always marked with a yellow sticky note so the other ladies won't miss it."
Helen's favorite authors reflect her typical Gemini split personality.
"The farm girl of my youth is drawn toward western frontier. The adult that designed computers wants to fly a jet and journey in outer space," she confessed. "I read Louis L'Amour to fill the void in my western soul. Although she doesn’t write fantasy, I enjoy the delicate hand Lydia Hawke uses to blend history and details of how our ancestors lived in her Civil War historicals. Anne McCaffrey, Barbara Hambly, and E. E. Doc Smith keep me company when I want to explore other worlds."
"Tell us about the absolute best fan letter you have received," I invited.
"One of the challenges (or should I say fears) for authors is whether or not their work will be well received. The beginning and ending lines of a note from a reader after reading Windmaster answered that question for me. She began the note, 'Helen Henderson weaves magic and adventure in this tale set on a far-off world.' And, ended with, 'You are hereby warned: this fascinating story will keep you up all night, turning those pages!' After that, it didn’t matter what was said in the middle," she assured me. "Comments can hold unexpected meanings, especially if taken at first glance. After my mother received a copy of Dreamspell Goddess, she said she was angry with me. Now you would think that was not a good thing. Thoughts raced; didn’t she like it? An issue since the pen name for Ambush Luck was Jessie Treon, my grandmother. No, it was a more mundane reason. My mother said she started reading the story and realized she couldn’t finish without missing a doctor’s appointment. The reason for her anger--she had to wait to see how the story ended. While I realize a mother has to be supportive, or at least say nothing negative, I will admit that day, a glare meant more than a smile."
When Helen started writing, telling a good tale was sufficient; however, now readers expect more, she told me—that the characters change in some way, whether for good or bad.
"Ensuring the necessary depth of characters challenges me. Of course, having to rise to the test takes the work to a higher level," she said. "The character of Anastasia in Dragon Destiny presented the most difficulty as I aged her from a young woman to the heroine suitable for the love interest. Based on a real person, I knew if Anastasia was not presented well, her mother and grandmother (both of whom are several inches taller than me) might express their displeasure with a strategically placed size nine shoe."
About the Author:
Find the author online at:
Author Website: helenhenderson-author.webs.com
Branin is the last dragon shifter born in over 300 years. As a dragshi, he can take the form of his dragon soul twin, Llewlyn and knows the freedom of flight, but not happiness. Both are the last of their kind and have waited millennia for their mates. The red-haired firebrand, Lady Broch of Ky'port is more than willing to fulfill that position--with or without Branin's willing cooperation. When a faint thought impinged on Branin's mind, hope for an ending to eons of loneliness soared. Plagued by doubts because no signs of a dragon shifter's birth have been seen, Branin searches the world for the mysterious girl he only knows by the name, Anastasia.
All that stands between their happiness is destiny—and Broch.