Friday 27 September 2013

Interview with Helena Newbury

As part of the In Harmony Tour hosted by Itching for Books, I sat down to talk with author Helena Newbury
Everyone expects her to succeed….
Karen plays the cello like an angel, and it’s the only thing that makes her truly feel alive. But her father’s dream—for her to join a prestigious orchestra—leaves no time in her life for anything but music…not even love. Trapped on her path, she doesn’t know how to rebel.
Everyone expects him to fail….
Connor plays rock guitar like the devil himself, and his ability has got him all the way from a dead-end life in Belfast to a scholarship at Fenbrook Academy. But beneath his arrogance and charm, he doesn’t believe he has what it takes. He’s spent his time in New York drinking and partying, and the only future he sees is a return to Ireland as soon as he flunks out.
But what no one expects….
When Karen’s duet partner is injured, the bad boy guitarist and the shy, sheltered cellist are forced to team up. Neither likes the idea, but what begins as anger and distrust slowly spirals into love…and lust. If they can face up to their feelings, they might just have a chance together. If Connor will allow Karen to stop his fall, maybe he can show her a life she never thought possible....
Helena Newbury is a New Adult Romance author with a love of bakingly hot summer days, strawberry gelato, good coffee and interesting people. Unlike the characters in her books, Helena cannot dance, act or play anything (though she is substantially more flexible since she started writing Dance For Me and tried doing dancer’s stretches, so she's hoping that something will rub off on her from each book).
Helena writes in a very noisy, very busy coffee shop which means she sometimes end up mainlining caffeine to keep her seat. You’ll know when this happens because she’ll still be on Twitter that night at 4am.
She loves meeting and talking with other authors, traveling to new places and discovering new books. You can find her on:

  1. What drew you to dance as the subject for Dance For Me?
    I had the opportunity to work with some dancers and spent time backstage with them listening to them talk about their lives. They just seemed like really interesting people to write about--ballet students not only have to perform and rehearse for hours on end, they also have to juggle auditions, other classes, often a job to pay the rent and their love lives and friendships. It's glamour mixed with brutally hard work. It's an art form often watched by the rich, yet students may have trouble even making ends meet. There's the constant anxiety that only a few can succeed, so everyone's pushing themselves to the limit. Put all that together and it's a very interesting world for a writer. But I'm one of those people who like to establish a world and really got lost in it; I wanted the flexibility to tell lots of different, connecting stories. So I created Fenbrook Academy, where students can study dance, music or acting (or a mixture). The first book centers on a dance student, the third on a music student, and there's a lot of interaction between the three disciplines.
  2. How did you prepare (research) for writing Dance For Me?
    I watched a lot of ballet and did a lot of reading--not just on the moves but on dancer health, life pressures and so on. I also started doing some of the flexibility training myself so that I could more accurately describe how it felt to get into some of the positions (I'm nowhere near as flexible as a ballerina, but I do credit the exercises with getting rid of the backache I incurred from sitting writing all day).
  3. What has changed (for you...and for your whole cast of characters) between Dance For Me and In Harmony?
    Four or five months have gone by since the end of Dance For Me. Two big relationships were started in Dance For Me - Darrell and Natasha (the hero and heroine) and Clarissa and Neil (their friends). Both couples fell for each other very quickly, but in different ways. Darrell and Natasha fell deeply, almost violently in love. Clarissa and Neil found themselves in a love/hate thing that quickly turned sexual. Unfortunately, relationships that start this quickly don't always have the firmest grounding, and in the second book both of these couples are in trouble--the cracks are starting to appear. That's all going on in the background while Karen--the heroine--is getting ready to graduate (she's a year ahead of her friends because she skipped a year of high school). So while In Harmony is very much Karen's story, you'll also see what happens to the couples from Dance For Me.
    Quite a lot has changed for me. Dance For Me's success gave me the confidence to quit my day job, so I have more time for writing now (it's the only reason I've been able to write In Harmony between June and September). I'm a USA Today bestselling author now, which makes me go squee. 
  4. What kind of writer are you? (Are you a plotter? A pantser? Do you write everyday in a dark room with the door locked? etc.)
    Very much a plotter. I work everything out obsessively before I begin. I sometimes change stuff as I go if it's not working, but I tend to stop and work out the problem before I continue. I like to write outside when I can to avoid dark room syndrome, but I live in Britain so even in summer, being able to work outside isn't a given.
  5. What is your favourite dance movie?
    Dirty Dancing. Easy call.
  6. "If you liked Dance For Me then you'll also enjoy reading..."
    Let me break that down a little. If you liked the exploration of characters who are scarred by their pasts, then I highly recommend Nadia Simonenko's "Lost" and its sequel "Found". If you like quirky male characters who aren't necessarily bad boys then you might enjoy Andra Brynn's Where I End and You Begin, which has a fantastic hero who's a priest-in-training. 
  7. "If I weren't writing I would..."
    Shoot myself.
  8. Three little known facts about you.
    I really like to cook. I'm not necessarily any good at it, but I like to cook and I like to cook BIG. Like, Epic Mealtime big. Especially Mexican food (Mexican food is nowhere near as popular over here in Britain so everyone thinks I'm weird over here).

    Despite being a huge ebook fan, I have a massive collection of old paperback romances from the 70s - bodice rippers, dashing heroes, the works. Karen's collection in In Harmony is based on this.
    I'm a Brit, but I'm actually pretty easy going about my tea and serious about my coffee instead of the other way around. I have a thing for Starbucks, which is why it keeps cropping up in my books.

Your Hint #5 for the Scavenger Hunt:
Creature in the storeroom that results in Karen being found in a compromising position

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