A Second Glance Interview: Helen Garraway

Hi there fellow adventurers,

It’s FINALLY snowing here in Alaska and it’s magical again so all is right with the world. I made a chocolate mug cake and some tea yesterday afternoon while working which was just delightful. I hope your week has been delightful as well. It’s time for another A Second Glance interview, this time with USA Today Bestselling and award winning fantasy author Helen Garraway. As always, my comments will be in {italics}. Enjoy!

Tell me a little bit about yourself!
My name is Helen Garraway and I am a USA Today Bestselling and award winning author of fantasy books. I began writing in 2016, though I have always been a great reader, a love I inherited from my mother who devoured books!

    I live in the UK with my writing companion, Alfie, who was the inspiration for the cute and cuddly Arifels! My daughter emigrated to Canada and is loving life in British Colombia. At least I get the chance to visit which is always great fun.

    My first book, Sentinals Awaken, was published in 2020, swiftly followed by three more books and two novellas in the epic fantasy Sentinal series, the fifth book, Sentinals Banished is due to be released on February 23rd. The first book in the fantasy romance SoulMist series, SoulBreather releases on January 23rd. {Congrats on the book releases!! Hope the launch went well. I love that you got your love of reading from your mother. So cool.}

    What got you into writing?
    I have always loved reading, fantasy being my favourite genre. I also love walking in nature, through ancient forests which I am lucky enough to have near where I live. I was walking through the woods, admiring the ancient trees, and I thought what if they could talk? What tales they could tell. And then I thought, what if someone slept in the tree and was awoken in a time a need. And so the Sentinal series was born. Sentinal trees are the guardian trees which have stood since the Lady Leyandrii banished all magic from the world of Remargaren. They appeared when all the Lady’s personal guard, her Sentinals disappeared and so the myth was that the Sentinals were encased in the trees, and so the trees were named after them in memory. {I love this idea!}

    What genres do you write in?
    I write what I love to read which is fantasy. I love the ability to build my own worlds, to play with language and words and to create the maps. (All my books have maps!) I started writing epic fantasy, but I have ideas bubbling for a dystopian fantasy, and another fantasy romance, though I’m not sure if it should be epic fantasy romance that I write, as all my books are high fantasy with plenty of worldbuilding. {So awesome! Worldbuilding is my favorite aspect as well. It would be fun to shift to a dystopian fantasy, too.}

    Do you write standalones or series?
    I tend to write series, because once I’ve created the world and the characters, I don’t want to stop writing about them! I have one more book in the Sentinal series, book six, and then that series is complete, which is bittersweet! But I do have the prequel to finish which dives into Leyandrii and Guerlaire a bit deeper, and how the Sentinals ended up in the trees to begin with, so I haven’t left the world completely.

    How many books do you have out right now? Tell me about them!
    The epic fantasy Sentinal series is currently five books and two novellas. With three more books planned. Book six and then parts I & II of the prequel.

    As a three thousand-year-old threat reemerges, only one man has the power to awaken the world’s greatest protectors and restore order to the realm. He just doesn’t know it yet. When Jerrol Haven, a captain in the King’s Rangers, discovers treason at the highest level, he knows immediately that the knowledge puts his life at risk. And indeed, though he expected the ailing King to shield him, the ambitious Crown Prince sentences Jerrol to death. And so the adventure begins … Jerrol awakes the first Sentinal, Birlerion, and in each book we travel to a new part of the world.

    My Third book, Sentinals Justice, just received a Readers’ Favorite Five star Review and my fourth book, Sentinals Across Time, just got long listed for the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBA) in the OZMA Fantasy category which is really exciting.

    Sentinal series ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KWCVS1Q )
    Book 0.5: Sentinals Stirring (Novella, free if you sign up to my newsletter (https://Linktr.ee/HelenGarraway )
    Book One: Sentinals Awaken
    Book 1.5: Sentinals Discovery (Novella, First few chapters from Birlerion’s POV. Free in Creatures of Myth & Magic Anthology)
    Book Two: Sentinals Rising
    Book Three: Sentinals Justice
    Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery (Novella)
    Book Four Sentinals Across Time
    Book Five: Sentinals Banished (Release date: Feb 23rd, 2023)

    SoulMist series
    SoulBreather (Release date: January 23rd, 2023) https://Books2Read.com/SoulBreather

    A dying angel. A fractured realm. The mortal who might be able to save them both.

    I wrote SoulBreather for the Realm of Darkness Anthology, a boxset of 35 full length fantasy novels aimed at hitting the USA Today Bestseller list, which we did achieve in October 2022. Such an amazing achievement and a lot of hard work by everyone. The boxset was a limited edition which is now delisted, so you can now buy the SoulBreather separately as ebook, paperback or hardcover. The Fantasy Romance SoulMist series, was planned to be a trilogy, but my editor recommended that I split book one into two, so it may become four books! SoulBreather is the first book and I am currently working on book two.

    I am so excited that SoulBreather just received a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Review and the review was amazing, so fingers crossed for an award later in the year. {Congrats for the Readers’ Favorites and CIBA nomination!! It’s always an amazing feeling when readers connect with our work. I love how you offer some novellas in your Sentinal series, must be fun writing shorter stories in your overall world and readers get even more content!}

    Which book did you have the hardest time trying to write? The best time?
    SoulBreather was the first book I wrote to an external deadline, so that had its own challenges, especially when my editor recommended I split it into two books about a month before the deadline! That was a challenge, though it was the right decision, and the books are better for it. I was trying to cram too much information into one book.

    I am most comfortable writing the Sentinal series as I love returning to that world and its characters. The world is so alive and vibrant that it like coming home every time I start writing or editing another book. I have all three of the remaining books written, now, I just need to find time to edit and publish them. {Deadlines are both a blessing and a curse, ha! Glad you made it work!}

    Why do you keep writing?
    I love it. I love every aspect of writing, from the ideation to the editing and especially the writing. It is so fulfilling to be creating a world filled with amazing characters all of whom I want to take home! When readers enjoy my books and say so, it is the best feeling ever.

    Which character of yours is your favorite?
    This is such a tough question. Deep down, it’s the Sentinal Birlerion, as he is such a complex character, but Jerrol and Taelia are just as loved, as is Demavrian and Solanji from SoulBreather and some of the fledglings. And then there is Kiefer from my Dystopian novel I hope to publish this year. As I write more books in different worlds, there are more characters to fall in love with.

    What are your favorite tropes? Hated tropes?
    I didn’t consciously write a specific trope, I wrote what I enjoyed reading which was an epic fantasy quest, which of course has the hero’s journey, the wounded hero, lost and found family, but I didn’t write deciding to include those tropes, they were what the story needed and I identified them afterwards. I don’t think I have a trope that I hate. If it moves the plot forward then I would use it. {Love this!}

    What kind of hobbies do you have outside of writing?
    I am a voracious reader of course, reading and reviewing many Indie author books on my website and Instagram. I am also a paper crafter with a crafter’s house overflowing with craft supplies. There is always another die cut or rubber stamp I need for my card making.

    What is your writing process like?
    In a word sporadic! Or maybe it is spontaneous! The more I write, the more I have become a planner. I know where I’m starting and where I want to finish it’s the bit in the middle which can be torturous. Ideas spring out of nowhere, and I have to capture them before I lose them, so I may write a whole event in isolation and then slot it into the right chapter afterwards. I try and write every day, but I do also work full time, so that isn’t always possible.

    I am currently trying to finish book two in the SoulMist series, DragonBound, but I am also writing a short story for a new series, which has more diverse characters in it, and the MC and FMC of the third book sprung into my mind, and I had to capture them while they were so insistent, and 15,000 words later, and annoyed at my procrastination on writing the third book, when I haven’t finished the first two in the series (!!), I returned to DragonBound. {Sporadic and spontaneous works well! I like how when you have an idea for a scene you write it right away. I love it when characters spring to mind like that.}

    Have you ever traveled as research for your writing?
    No, not specifically for research. If I travel, I am more aware of my surroundings and people as I observe more and collect ideas, descriptions, experiences etc. They are all good fodder for new ideas.

    I was going to learn to sail as research for my fourth Sentinals book, Sentinals Across Time. But Covid hit and my lessons were cancelled. I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing! I never did learn to sail. {As someone who does know how to sail from my late-father, it’s an amazing experience if you can find time for it.}

    Last question, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
    One of the best pieces of advice I received was to just write for the joy of it. If you love writing then the words will flow, and if you do hit a block, keep writing, even if it is rubbish, eventually the words will begin to flow again and you can always edit out the rubbish afterwards.

    A learning I will share if you decide to self-publish your books, which is an entirely different thing, is to give yourself time. Everything takes a lot longer than you think. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress and pressure by given yourself unrealistic deadlines. {Write for the joy of it! Love it.}

    Author Plug: I have always been an advocate for indie authors, and in 2022, I was selected as an Ambassador for the non-profit organisation, Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli). If anyone would like to know more about Alli, or has any questions about self-publishing then I am more than happy to help if I can. You can contact me via my website https://helengarraway.com/contact/.

    Find Helen Online!
    Author Website
    Social Links

    And she also has some giveaways!

    Sentinals Banished Launch Giveaway

    Closes February 22nd:  https://kingsumo.com/g/ehfnff/sentinals-banished-launch-giveaway

    Sentinals Banished Goodreads Giveaway (US only)

    will be live January 23rd  – Feb 22nd, 2023



    And that’s a wrap! Thank you so much to Helen for her lovely and inspiring answers, and I hope you, my fellow adventurers, have enjoyed this Q&A as much as I did. Now, go check out her work!!

    Hope you have a lovely weekend!
    Warm regards,

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