I’m taking part in the blog tour for debut authors of 2014. The tour is hosted by YA Reads, and let me tell you, there are some great authors among the stops! You should definitely go check them out!
Helene Dunbar is the author of These Gentle Wounds. I’ve had the chance to interview her, and it was great fun! Check it out:
How did you come up with the inspiration for These Gentle Wounds?
The book came out of a number of freelance articles I’d written for an education publisher on the cases of Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, two mothers who killed their children. In January 2011, a mother in New York State drove her four kids into a river, killing three of them. I became curious about what sort of life the surviving child would have and so I started writing about it.
I was also interested in exploring the life of a teen who had survived childhood trauma. Not much has been written about post-traumatic stress disorder in non-military terms.
Did you know from the beginning that your main character would be a boy?
Absolutely. I personally find writing a male character much easier than a female character.
Was it hard being a woman, writing from a boy’s perspective?
See about. Not sure why that is really….I always joke that there’s a 16 year-old boy living in my head. But that sounds kind of creepy.
‘These Gentle Wounds’ has an average rating of 4.46 on goodreads (as of July 18th). That’s really good! How do you react, if you receive a low rating/negative review?
I was a drama critic for many years so I understand how subjective those opinions (both good and bad) can be. I actually don’t mind negative reviews that are well thought-out. The only ones that really bother me are negative reviews based on things that are factually incorrect. Also, positive reviews based on things that are factually incorrect bother me. I like truth. I don’t have to agree with it.
Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us about it?
I just turned in edits for my 2015 book, WHAT REMAINS, which is a love story between three friends and deals, in part, with the challenge of overcoming grief. My agent is shopping the “book of my heart” and I have one or two other things in various stages of completion.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Yes, but I never intended to write fiction. I was always involved in journalism. I wanted to be a baseball reporter, but then decided to pursue drama criticism very seriously and did that for a while. I still write features about traditional Irish musicians for a Dublin-based magazine.
Besides writing, what do you do? Any hobbies? At the moment, I’m too busy to do much else. I have 2 jobs, a husband, and a child. So…just not enough hours in the day. I will say that nothing makes me happier than seeing a band I love. So I guess music is my biggest hobby, but on the spectator side. Despite years in band (clarinet) and choir, I’m a woefully bad musician.
If your favorite author were having dinner at your place, what would you cook and who would be visiting?
So. Difficult. It’s hard to say who my favorite author is. I will admit to being a huge fangirl of Maggie Steifvater, so I guess I’d serve something without preservatives because she’s allergic to them.
To me, the characters in a book are very important. Who are some of your favorite characters?
This is also hard, but I’ll give it a shot and name the first couple that come to mind.Niall from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely Series because he broke my heart.Rudy from Hannah Moskowitz’s Teeth because he stayed open to possibility.Sebastian from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited because he’s Sebastian.Richard from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History because he reminds me of me and his college reminds me of mine.Jason from Amber Dermont’s The Starboard Sea because his screw-ups gutted me.Kavinsky from Maggie Steifvater’s The Dream Thieves because, as reprehensible as he is, he’s so perfectly crafted. I like characters who are complex and slightly tortured in some way
What are you currently reading? What do you plan on reading next?
I’ve been mostly reading 2014 debut ARCs and just finished Philip Siegel’s The Breakup Artist and am indulgently rereading The Raven Boys books waiting for the new one in October.
I’m DYING to read Stephanie Kuehn’s COMPLICIT and Emma Trevayne’s CHORUS.
Do you have any favorite book genres?
For the most part, I prefer contemporary. However, as a teen, I read a TON of speculative fiction (Harlan Ellison in particular) as well as fantasy (Roger Zelazny, Michael Morcock and Elizabeth A. Lynn were my favorites). I’m glad to see magic realism really starting to come into its own in YA because that’s a perfect blend for me as a reader.
Do you have any genres that you would like to explore more?
Honestly, there are so many things on my TBR list already that I’d better stick with what I’ve got. That being said, I’ll read anything with strong character development and complex personalities. As a writer….I’m playing around with magic realism right now and having a lot of fun with it.
Are your taste in books and movies/tv shows similar or completely different?
Pretty similar. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I love shows that make me cry such as The Fosters and I adored Being Human (the US version). Babylon 5, 30Something, and The West Wing will always be favorites.
I didn’t really like any of the books I read during my time in school. Did you read any books that made an impression (good or bad) back when you was a student?
I read a lot of Shakespeare in high school and always had a soft spot for Hamlet. Moby Dick is probably my least favorite book ever alongside The Heart of Darkness. I was fortunate to have an amazing English teacher in high school though who allowed for debate.
To be honest, I judge a book by its cover. Is that something you do as well? What are some of your favorite covers?
Yeah, I have to admit to being pulled in by covers and titles. I pick up a lot of books and then put them down if the cover doesn’t intrigue me, which is a shame. Now that I read more on Kindle, this is probably less of an issue. The cover for Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens is probably my favorite.
Did you choose the cover for ‘These Gentle Wounds’ yourself?
I’m fortunate to have had some input into my cover. Brian Farrey (my editor) sent me two early ideas and I wrote him back immediately and BEGGED him to get the rights to the image they used. Oliver Charles, the photographer/model looked so much like the Gordie who lived in my head and the feel of the cover was just what I was hoping for. I didn’t want anything too dark and depressing because ultimately, Gordie’s story is about finding hope.
If you were to name your kids after book characters, what would they be called? Personally, I’d go for Noah – I tend to see that name everywhere and they’re always gentlemen! Haha.
I wanted to name our daughter Julia after 1984 (but really it was the Eurythmic’s song from the movie that was the motivation), but I have a cousin named Julie and it was too close. Besides, it wouldn’t have fit her. I always like formal boys names and would have loved Sebastian or Julian for a son, but I’m sure my husband wouldn’t have agreed.
I love to go through peoples bookshelfes. Can I see yours?
YES. I love this idea!
And now onto the giveaway!
Helene Dunbar is offering one signed copy of These Gentle Wounds. Open international! Just fill out the rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 10th, 12AM (GMT+1). Good luck!
Please note, I’m not responsible for the item.
If you’re below 18 years old, please make sure to have your legal guardian’s permission to give share your adress with me, should you win.