Interview With Author S. Lynn Helton

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hello! Thank you for this interview opportunity. I’m S. Lynn Helton; just call me Lynn. I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, U.S.A. with my husband and two children and a water-loving Manx-mix cat. I’m a voracious reader and love writing, animals, crafting, and being in the mountains. I like variety and learning new things, and I enjoy both board and video games. I’ve been an amusement park rides operator, cloud simulation lab assistant, cartographer, technical writer, and instructional designer. And now I’m an author.

To date, I’ve written and published three novels and two novellas – all in the same fantasy series – and a children’s picture book. I published my first novel in 2018.

My fantasy series Wild Heritance is centered around Namid, a leader in a guild of rogues. In the first book, she is caught up in someone else’s quest and, together with a disparate group of companions, works to untangle the sometimes seemingly disjointed events surrounding this so-called quest. What at first seems a fool’s errand to restore a legendary artifact of Power becomes a gambit for the fate of the Six Realms. And Namid doesn’t even believe in fate! The other novels follow subsequent happenings all sparked by that initial quest, while the two novellas tell of a time before the first novel: Namid’s Trial for entry into that guild of rogues and events around it.

My children’s picture book Bye-Bye Magpie uses Haiku-style verse and original illustrations to introduce young kids to various native animals common to the western U.S.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I find inspiration from all over. I’ve been inspired by a phrase someone has written, a memory, a scent, a walk in the mountains, and the feeling a place has given me. I can find inspiration in a painting or photograph or just people-watching, in a mistyped word that sparks random thoughts, or in a science news story. I’ve found inspiration in sometimes just letting my mind wander and find random connections. I try to keep myself open to what is around me and use that awareness for inspiration in my creating.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I don’t believe in it for me in the popular sense of something that completely halts my creativity. When I hear “writer’s” or “creative block,” I always picture a path, winding through a dense evergreen forest, with a huge stone block sitting in the middle, preventing any forward progress. That’s the block I don’t believe in.

For me, “creative block” takes the form of an uncertainty about what’s coming next. In my writing, sometimes it’s an uneasiness about something in the story – a sign for me that perhaps I don’t know my characters as well as I thought, or maybe I want a certain event to happen, but it’s just not fitting into the story. So I pause the writing to delve into what’s not quite working.

I make sure I treat it as a pause, not a dead stop. That way I know I’ll be moving forward again. I just need a little bit of time before I can do that. No need to agonize over it.

So how do I deal with creative block? I take a step back and figure out what’s giving me the feeling of uncertainty, what’s missing that’s making the ideas slow down or feel wrong. Then I take a short break from “regular writing” to fill in holes I’ve discovered. Sometimes I’ll make extensive notes. Other times I just ponder a bit to figure out what’s missing. Maybe I’ll return to my writing to add some details before the troublesome section. Then I’m ready to dive back in and move forward with the story again. That’s what works for me.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I’m more disciplined than I used to be, and more focused. I’ve taken to heart the lesson that the writing improves by going through diligent work, feedback and revisions. I first started writing because I enjoyed it. I like messing around with words and creating stories. In the past, I felt I could only write when I was in the right mood and that I wouldn’t be able to create to a deadline. I wrote for fun, really just played around with the writing from time to time.

Then a few years ago, after a serious health scare, I realized that I did want to write and share my stories with others. I participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times to practice writing every day and learn that I could actually do that! I buckled down and finished a story I had been playing around with for years. I got feedback, ran it through revisions and edits to polished it, then learned about self-publishing and self-published it. That was my first published novel: Duplicity of Power.

Over time, my creation process has become better defined, with certain steps I make sure I hit (revisions and edits, for example). With the continued practice at writing, I think my drafts are coming out better from the start. But it’s an ongoing process, the improving.

# What are your plans for future books?

Many and varied! I’m currently working on a new fantasy trilogy. I have ideas and notes for more books in my Wild Heritance series. I have partial drafts for another children’s picture book and a story book. And I have a multitude of notes for a variety of other projects ranging from a middle-grade fantasy story to an urban fantasy novel (or maybe a series) to possibly a cozy mystery book. So many ideas! I’m eager to get them all written and published in the coming years.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

Some quirky facts, hm? Well… I used to read cereal boxes. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a voracious reader – so much so that as a child, when I’d finished all my library books and we hadn’t yet gotten more, I would read everything on my cereal box while eating breakfast, just to be able to get more reading in.

Another quirky fact: I like the peace and beauty of a sunrise…and yet I love sleeping in.

And a third quirky fact for you: I love turtles…reptiles really, but especially turtles. We had four when I was a kid. My husband and I recently came across a small garter snake in our yard. It was so cute! (And now I think I need to put that snake in one of my stories!)



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