Friday, January 21, 2011

Helen Johannes

GET LOST IN A FANTASY WITH HELEN JOHNANNES


Helen C. Johannes lives in the Midwest with her husband and grown children. Growing up, she read fairy tales, Tolkien, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, and Ayn Rand, an unusual mix that undoubtedly explains why the themes, characters, and locales in her writing play out in tales of love and adventure. A member of Romance Writers of America, she credits the friends she has made and the critiques she’s received from her chapter members for encouraging her to achieve her dream of publication. When not working on her next writing project, she teaches English, reads all kinds of fiction, enjoys walks, and travels as often as possible.

The Prince of Val-Feyridge

***Finalist 2011 EPIC Contest Fantasy Romance.

Prince Arn has a destiny-an ancient throne-but he’s not waiting for fate to deliver when he can act now, before his enemies organize against him. The healer Aerid longs for her barely remembered homeland. Marked out by her gift and her unusual looks, she insists she is no witch.

The swordsman Naed hopes to honorably defend his uncle’s holding, but he harbors a secret fascination for the exotic healer. Prince Arn’s campaign against Aerid’s homeland throws them into a triangle of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Only when they realize love is blood-kin to friendship, and neither is possible without risk, can they forge a new alliance and restore a kingdom.

Excerpt

Aerid could not recall how she came to be in the Great Hall, or how water and bandages materialized on trestle tables there. Naed sat slumped against the wall while Yormoc tugged off his tunic and armor. Blood painted Naed's arm, but she could see the wound was only a finger in length.

"Get me up, fool, or ‘tis your hide I'll line my chair with!" Her master Dranoel sat up, took in the guards at the door, and his ashen face paled further.

Yormoc examined the cloth he had been holding to his gashed jaw. "They haven't killed us yet. ‘Tis like they don't mean to."

Dranoel visibly fought for control. "Mayhap the bastard Prince has some honor, then."

"Some honor!" Aerid sputtered. Did no one but she understand what they faced? "Belike they'll be keeping us for their sport, killing us one by one to feed their savage appetites. These be Tolemaks we speak of, and what be they if not barbarians and their master a Prince of savages!"

Dranoel blanched at her words. Yormoc froze. Even Naed's head came up. But not a man of them stared at her.

Cold dread filled Aerid. She whirled.

In the doorway stood a scarlet-cloaked figure so tall his ebony hair brushed the cross-beam, so lean Aerid sensed nothing but bone and muscle and will, a will so strong it emanated from the deep-set, stone-gray eyes. High cheekbones gave his face a noble, arrogant look. The curve of his lips mocked her. The scar cutting across the left side of his face from behind the eyebrow to the corner of the chin mocked nothing.

"Pray, go on." The Prince of Val-Feyridge planted his boot on a bench and rested a hand on the upraised knee. "Or have you lost your nerve?"

Cat: How often to you get lost in a story?
Helen: Every time I read a novel, I get lost in the characters, the setting, the conflict. If a book is well-written, I dive right into the world.

Cat: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Helen: I don’t remember a single book but a collection—of fairy tales. That was my favorite book as a child.

Cat: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Helen: As I said before, I love fairy tales in general, but my debut book is a Cinderella story in many ways, and my WIP is a beauty and the beast story. Those two, plus the Donkey Prince and Snow White and Rose Red are probably my favorites.

Cat: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
Helen: I keep going back to watch Shrek, Mulan, Kung-fu Panda, and Anastasia. I grew up on Bugs Bunny and Disney cartoons, so I have a hard time picking just one.

Cat: What turns you off like nothing else?
Helen: People who don’t read and don’t like fiction are the bane of my existence.

Cat: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
Helen: While I wrote, I listened to Enya and Irish artists as well as the soundtracks of Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings.

Cat: Where do you read and how often?
Helen: I read anywhere and as often as I can. I take a book to appointments.

Cat: What sound or noise do you love?
Helen: The sea, the sound of waves, both gentle and strong.

Cat: What was the first story you remember writing?
Helen: I was a great fan of horse books, so I remember writing a Golden Stallion-type story in 7th grade.

Cat: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Helen: I love movies, old and new, so that’s hard for me to pick. I grew up on Disney movies, and I love a great screwball comedy as well as a great adventure. I have to mention the original Star Wars trilogy and all the Indiana Jones movies as favorites.

Cat: Who’s your favorite villain?
Helen: We have to go back to Disney and fairy tales here. The best villain is in Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent is one powerful—and beautiful—witch/fairy.

Cat: Be honest, when reading 1st person...do you miss the hero’s POV?
Helen: I don’t enjoy reading first person much unless it’s Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum books. I don’t know if it’s missing the hero’s POV so much as preferring to be someone else rather than putting my own identity into the character, which is what first person is attempting to do.

Cat: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
Helen: I like historical romance, regency romance, romantic suspense, mystery, and young adult fantasy, to name a few, so my favorite kind, I guess, is a story that takes me so deeply into the world and characters that I don’t want to put the book down.

Cat: Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
Helen: I have a playlist of Irish folk music, Enya, Pirates and Lord of the Rings soundtracks, Billy Joel, and U2 that I mix with a bit of African Celtic music when I’m writing.

Cat: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Helen: I would stick with my current day job, a teacher of English composition and creative writing. Teaching is in the family bloodline and is very satisfying.

Cat: If you could interview one person (and it doesn’t have to be a writer) who would it be?
Helen: I’d like to talk to J.K. Rowling. She had a vision for seven books and she followed through on it. It’s hard enough just to get one book to come out right with all the pieces in proper places, let alone seven. I’d like to pick her brain.

Cat: What do you do to unwind and relax?
Helen: I travel, watch movies, read, take walks, and visit with friends and family.

Cat: What is your favorite tradition from your childhood that you would love to pass on or did pass on to your children?
Helen: St. Nick’s Day, December 6th, is a German tradition of children putting shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with candy, if the children have been good. We converted the shoes to Christmas stockings and fill them with the traditional apple, candy, and a small gift on December 6th.

Cat: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Helen: I have a book that I can hold in my hands that I wrote and that others can read.

Cat: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
Helen: Tea, 5-minute strong, and with sweetener.
GOTTA ASK -- GOTTA ANSWER
Cat: If you were a t-shirt. What color would you be and why?
Helen: I appear plain white to most people, but somewhere on the shirt there would be a splash of deep, vibrant colors, sort of like a lush tropical flower in full bloom.

GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS?
Helen: When you fall in love with a book’s hero, is it because he’s your ideal man or because he’s perfect for the heroine?

I’d like to thank Helen for sharing a little about herself with us. You can learn more about Helen at her website: www.helencjohannes.com or contact her at helen.c.johannes@gmail.com

Join us tomorrow when Maureen Hosts Children's author Claudia Osmond



10 comments:

  1. Hi Helen! Welcome to GLIAS and thank you for a lovely interview!

    I, too, LOVE Anastasia as a cartoon character.

    As for what I love in a hero, it's mostly whether he's perfect for the heroine. I think when I was younger I tended to gravitate towards heroes that I thought were things I wanted in a man, but after a dozen years of marriage--and maybe because I am now a writer--I truly appreciate when an author can make a couple so perfectly matched that I get lost in THEIR story.

    I'm really interested to hear other readers' takes on your question!

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  2. Welcome Helen. I've read fantasy and romance for years. It's great that two of my favorites are being written together by talented authors like you.

    That's a great question about the hero. I think the ones we really fall in love with are the ones that appeal to us. Sure, I can appreciate a guy who's perfect for the heroine, but the one that I'd be willing to hop into a book with would have to be the perfect guy for me.

    Thanks for joining us today. Can't wait to read your book!

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  3. Helen, isn't this blog great! We get to meet authors who we might not ordinarily run across, and how unfair of Cat (or you) to stop your excerpt there. I would have read on and on... People who don't read are the bane of my existence too. Thank you for dropping by and I wish you immense success with The Prince of Val-Feyridge.

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  4. Hi ladies. Thanks for offering me a chance to appear on your blog. You've made the process easy and painless. As to the excerpt, Donnell, that's a chapter hook ending, something I keep trying to improve on. This particular scene and description was born in the earliest draft as part of my image of the hero and heroine.

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  5. Hi Helen,
    That's an interesting question. I think that I can and do fall in love with every hero who doesn't cross some invisible line. I don't do well with Greek tycoon heroes if you know what I mean.

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  6. Thanks for sharing with us Helen. I agree with Heather on my hero. Who is right for me, wouldn't be right for most heroines. And I loved your answer on being a T shirt. I'd like to be white with colors wiped all over the front by my grandchildren!

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  7. I love your question about the hero... I think it's more about her being right for the heroine and just, well, sexy that I love. I think of heroes that I've truly loved and some of them I would not want for myself... JR Ward's Zsadist comes to mind. One of my all-time favorite romance heroes, but would I want him in real life? No.

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  8. Hi Helen,

    If the Prince of Val-Feyridge is the tall, dark character in the red cloak, he's a great start on a hero for me.

    As everyone on this site knows by now, I prefer a darker, more complex anti-hero. All kinds. Some very dark and scary. Others who have lost their way. Still others who have taken a wrong turn in life.

    They are so much fun to write and read!

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  9. Like you, Jillian, I tend to like my heroes flawed. They think they don't need anyone or anything--until they find out they do. They take every kind of physical risk, but dare not risk their hearts. They come wearing the blinders of their culture and like their world just fine the way it is. It's a treat to crack their stubborn, protective hides. But what I think draws me most to any hero I fall in love with is a fundamental sense of honor. I know he'll lay down his life for those he loves.

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  10. Hi Helen and welcome to GLIAS !

    Great interview! The ocean has to be one of my favorite sounds too. (And listening to the grandkids giggle.)

    I get lost if the hero is right for the heroine. Love it when they're polar opposites but exactly what each other need. :-)

    ~~Angi

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