Guest Post: Hélène Young

I have really met some lovely people through my few short years in the writing world. The three women, who are involved in our new initiative Facebook Page (Australian Outback mysteries and romances, and Twitter @outbackromances) are some of them!

Today, you get to meet Hélène Young, who is part of this group.

Hélène’s first book, Border Watch, is on sale as we speak/read! It’s the first of a two book “Border’s” series and has all things I love in a book – crime, mystery, intrigue and a love story, as the cherry on the cake! I get goose-bumps just thinking about it!

But not only is she a passionate writer, she is a pilot (which, growing up in a flying family, I think is wonderful!) It’s something slightly ‘out of the norm’, and as a woman in a mostly-man’s world, I believe is a great thing.

I am so excited to have Hélène here today. Her launch is on the 5th of March at Glaskins Gallery, Trinity Beach, Queensland. This will be a wonderful celebration of another of Australia’s outstanding talents.

Congratulations, Hélène and thanks for blogging with me.

Hélène: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Fleur. It’s great to be here and I love being part of the new combined Face Book page with you, Fiona Palmer and Bron Parry.

The four of us write very different stories yet the Australian landscape has a big presence in all of them. That started me wondering about what triggers each of us to pursue a story and its characters.

Border Watch started from three different events. In 1999 a rusty little fishing boat landed at Holloways Beach, just north of Cairns, with 26 illegal immigrants on board. The government agencies responsible for border security had no idea they’d got that far south until they tried to catch a taxi.  In 2003 a man tragically drowned attempting to rescue his son and was washed up on a beach near where I live. Walking my dog early in the morning, I found his body. A couple of years later, the airline I worked for employed a number of pilots who’d flown for Coast Watch, the coastal surveillance operation in Australia. Their stories were awesome! From there Border Watch percolated, bubbled, fermented and eventually took shape – the possibilities were endless!

How did Red Dust start out for you, Fleur?

Fleur: The idea for Red Dust really just appeared one day, after my mentor told me he thought I had the talent to write a book. In between changing nappies and sleep deprivation, the idea just grew to what it is now! Thanks for asking!

Hélène: The colours of North Queensland had the biggest impact on me when we moved to Cairns. I was used to the crystal clear waves of the Gold Coast where the water is deep blue and green. In the north, the ocean is cerulean, azure, opalescent and sapphire – I’d never seen anything so clear, so vibrant, so breathtaking. One of the early flights I did was from Cairns to Lizard Island in a Twin Otter. On a clear day we flew at one thousand feet over the Ribbon Reefs. You could see gigantic coral bommies rising out of the depths to peep through the silvery reflection of the Coral Sea. Manta rays and sharks made dark shadows in the sandy shallows.  Bright white beaches drew solid demarcation lines between the sea and the dark, dark green of the coastal rainforests. (And to my horror, time-poor tourists slept as we flew over this, exhausted from the long haul flights to Australia… I was tempted to induce some turbulence to wake them up…)

Colours are strong in your books too aren’t they, Fleur? It’s there in the titles – Red, Blue and Purple. Where do they come from?

Fleur: The colours are from the landscape and just seem to jump out at me, speak to me! I have to use them to show people that don’t live here how wonderful our country is. I would have tried to hit a huge air pocket to wake those tourists, how terrible they didn’t get to the aerial view!

Hélène: The other dimension to Border Watch is the people. ‘Laconic, laid back, stoic’ is the way Morgan describes them. Until you live in remote or regional Australia it’s easy to forget how demanding our climate can be. For North Queensland, the challenges of ‘The Wet Season’ are immense. When the monsoon trough descends from the equator it can bring deluges of biblical proportions. Rainfall is measured in millimeters and one hundred mls a day can be a normal occurrence. That’s around three inches on the imperial scale and is a whole lot of water! If you get four days of that, you’ve had a foot of rain and that has to go somewhere in a hurry. Bit of a bummer if you live at the foot of a hill (and we do!) as you’ll get the neighbour’s foot of rain as well as your own. Apparently Zeus (the demented staffie) has a wet bed today after the heavens opened last night… The locals take all this in their stride, roll up their pants,  pop open their umbrellas and just get on with it!

The rhythm of speech is slower in the north. People tend to end their sentences with an upwards inflection.  They take their time answering a question, weighing the words more carefully. It doesn’t make them slower, less articulate, just more measured. Yet they give friendship readily. We’d barely moved into our house before our neighbour had invited us to a BBQ. Twelve and a half years on, he’s still a friend as are the people we met over a couple of crispy sausages!

So what gives you inspiration to write a story? Is it a character, a scene, a place or a concept. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and go into the draw for a copy of Border Watch – and yes we do post anywhere in the world!!

Border Watch, March 2010, Hachette Australia – A contemporary suspense novel set in North Queensland.

“When terrorists penetrate deep into Northern Australia, the only things standing between them and a successful attack is feisty Border Watch captain, Morgan Pentland, and aloof Customs agent, Rafe Daniels. Both Morgan and Rafe will have to overcome their own personal animosity if they’re to prevent carnage on Australian soil.”

Hélène, thanks so much for being here today – I wish you every success with Border Watch and am waiting with bated breath for Tuesday’s mail when my copy should be arriving!

Comments 0

  1. I just love that this page has been created. I have such a deep love for Australian stories. I can’t wait to read Border watch- and I am already a fan of the talented duo Fleur and Fiona- I’ve just started a rural country web page for my upcoming release- I felt a need to separate my romantic suspense that has locations all around the world and my stories I base on Australians that centre in Australian locations.
    I think what attracts me to Australian books- is that they become personal- the people and the places are like friends you’ve grown up with and really care about. I read all kinds of genres, but it’s the rural Aussie ones that I remember long after the dust settles on the book shelf!

  2. Wonderful blog post, ladies! Love the insight you’ve given us into your inspirations for your books. And its obvious to me that your love of Australia and its people will shine through in your books, too. Counting down till your release date, I bet — hope it’s a rousing success for you, Helene!


  3. Hey Fleur. Hi again Helene. I just came over to Fleur’s site to look up her ‘tag line’ and here you are. Nice interview too. As I’m half way thru this amazing book, I appreciate the insight into its development. And I am learning heaps too!!!!

    Now Fleur – what is your tag (Helene’s is ‘….. in the Australian Tropics’ and Bron is ‘…in the Australian Outback’) Do you have a ‘romance in ….?????? tag? I’m adding you all to my site I’m developing.

  4. Hello Fleur and Helene,
    Great post again, I always love getting some background into the birth of a book. I think the scenery plays an immense part in all our Australian stories, but of course the characters and their adventures are just as important.
    Helene – I was up half the night reading Border Watch, can’t put it down so I’m going straight back to it now, congratulations on a brilliant read.

  5. Hi ladies, thanks for dropping by and thanks for reading it. I’ve just been told by my publisher that they’re are doing an urgent additional print run of another 4000!! Yeahhhhh!! And it can’t only be family and friends who’ve bought it – I don’t know that many people….

    Thanks Phillipa, very excited about the release of The Book of Love! This time next month we’ll be celebrating with you and I’m looking forward to blogging with you on the 23rd March.

    Karly, love the look of your new webpage for Australian Rural Romances! Lovely!

  6. Maree, welcome all the way from NZ! I’ve spent the day in the simulator concentrating on turning two young men into new captains – all I wanted to do was smile from ear to ear and drink champagne… Today is release day, Friday is party day and the other three days will involve champagne and celebrations!

    Jenn, I’m so glad you’re still enjoying it – hopefully there’s nothing too sinister you’re learning… liking how to crash a Dash…

    Nicole, that is such a huge compliment, thank you! I love it when a book won’t let me go to sleep and I’m very happy to do that to someone else!

  7. Great to see so many comments here, all you ladies! Helene, what fantastic news about an extra print run – I know that feeling, they did it for Red Dust! How many was the orginal run?

    Jenn, I don’t think I have a tag! You might need to make one up, or maybe romance on the farms..?!

  8. Congrats on the release Helene I have heard lots of great things about your book and am really looking forward to reading it. I do love reading books set in Australia I have loved both of Bronwyn’s books I have Fleur’s here to read next. there is something about knowing about the areas you are reading about I guess. I have been to Cairns and visited The Whitsundays and it really is a beautiful part of the country and I agree the colours are amazing.
    Must be great being a pilot and I guess you get lots of ideas for stories.
    One day I will get to travel more around our beautiful country there are so many place I still need to see.
    Congrats again
    Have Fun

  9. Hi Helen, thanks for the congrats! It’s wonderful to see more Australian women writers up on the shelves. Fleur, Fiona and Bron all write such evocative novels – as the new kid, I’m very happy to hang out with them on Australia Outback Romances and Mysteries!!

    Like you, I want to see more of this amazing country. We’re stopping off in in Darwin in May for six days and I can’t wait! One of the things that always strikes me from the air is the changing colour of the landscape. All the recent rain on the east coast has brought on a wonderful rich green that I haven’t seen for a number of years – spectacular to watch the countryside bloom! Beautiful!

  10. Hi Helene and Fleur – great combined blog!
    Loved the interweaving of the authors inspirations for both Border Watch and Red Dust.
    Helene, I am very much looking forward to reading your novel – congratulations on the extra print run! Must confess I haven’t been to the shops to buy it yet but am hoping to break free from my computer this afternoon and venture out.
    Congratulations on your great success!
    Lisa xx

  11. Hi Helene and Fleur, great blog! Helene congrats on the reprint already…it must be walking off the shelves, well done.
    I think Australia is well known for its vast landscapes and i know i love reading books that really bring the vividness of it to life. Its where i get my passion to write, i want to tell a story about the amazing things i see and the larger than life characters i meet. I feel people are missing out on some of the things we may take for granted out in the bush, so why not write a book about it. Thats how i started.
    All the best Helene and Fleur on both your new books.
    Fiona x

  12. Hi Lisa and Fiona. I’m very happy to be the ‘new kid on the block’ knowing you ladies have helped create a market niche for Australian women writers! So a big thank you to both of you, and to Fleur, of course!!

  13. Hi Helene,
    Nice to see you here. I read so much about your wonderful book that I raced out and bought it yesterday 🙂 Can’t wait to read it!

  14. Hi Helene, absolutely loved Border Watch, couldn’t put it down! I have recommended it to my friends and now can’t wait for the next installment in March next year!
    Hi Fleur, I currently have Red Dust on my bedside table to read, and have just reserved Blue Skies from my library!
    Thanks for all the lovely Aussie themed novels!

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