July 27th, 2018
I asked Heli to pick a place for our interview:
Lazy afternoon sun glints off the water and creates a soft pattern over our faces. We lounge on the ship, its golden deck sparkling around us as we revel in the Southern heat. It’s always hot in this part of Gebeth, but with the River’s cool humidity blending in with the air, it is a little easier to breathe.
A servant, wide smile on his sun-kissed face, tattoos peeking out from underneath his amber romper, brings us a tray piled with frozen fruit, perfect little pastries, and pitchers of colorful drinks. Bright emeralds, rubies, sapphires shine like they are truly made of these very gemstones. Yum.
I pick up a drink, grinning at Laura who has noticed a bunch of monkeys cackle on the closest tree. She offers them some of our fruit. The shore is a little too far for them to reach, but as if understanding her kind gesture, the biggest baboon stretches out his long arms and begins a happy dance, almost breaking the branch underneath his fuzzy legs.
We eat, drink, chat. The perfect afternoon. Only once we’re nearly bursting with the fruity goodness, we are ready to settle into why we actually decided to take this journey – the conversation engulfing our favorite topic. Writing.
Laura Mae: How are you today, Heli?
H.S. Dundee: I am very good, thanks. It has been a day full of playing with my kid, so I can’t complain!
L: Aw, that sounds super fun. Whats your kid’s name? How old are they?
H: Her name is Sofia Victoria. She is three, and the most fun person I know. I never knew kids can make sarcastic jokes, but she’s a born master.
L: She sounds adorable! I love that name! She sounds like royalty!
H: Hehe, thanks! Everybody says that. Her daddy named her ten minutes after she was born. He has good taste.
L: That’s awesome. Very good choice! So, Heli, how do you find the time to write with a sarcastic three year old? Must be hard, right?
H: Gosh, yes. I write whenever I can – during nap time, in the evenings. Sometimes she sits on my lap and we share my screen, meaning half is for her cartoons and half for my word document. When we used to live farther from the city, I would write on the commute.
L: That’s amazing! I couldn’t dream of working on another project at the same time. Another applause from the audience. Haha! How long have you been writing those?
H: I started this whole idea way back in 2004. I developed the story into what now will be the first two books of the series. Then I was on a long break from writing for several years, until I picked it up again a year ago.
L: Well I’m sure they will be amazing! Let me know when those are done! And you have a published out as well, correct? Can you tell me about that one?
H: Yeah, I have two short stories out. Just my first dabble in the publishing world. They are both horror stories, even though one is bloodier and more gruesome than the other. That one is “The Choice”. It is all about the human condition and how we make decisions every day, all the while throwing the main character into a situation where he has no choice but to make the most life-altering decision of his existence.
The other is “The Silver Blade”, where a twisted romance comes in play. It is a story of the need of belonging and also, of making a choice between that desire and of the duty to safeguards the ones closest to you.
L: Those sound very awesome. I love the psychological idea behind it. Do you consider yourself a horror writer or do you try to mix it up a bit?
H: I consider myself a fantasy writer, but somehow horror just jumped into the mix. I would never have guessed it myself, but here I am. I do like to try out different things here and there, for example, romance is never too far off the radar. Yet, my romance needs a bit of action alongside it. I just can’t seem to go full on cutie stuff, I have no idea why. I love reading it, just can’t write it. Lol
L: That’s good! Variety is healthy! And I understand about the romance thing. It’s hard for me too! What do you think is the most frustrating part of writing?
H: Oh boy, how do I pick just one? Maybe the moment when you write “the perfect” paragraph and the next day you realize what utter garbage it is and have no idea how to fix it? Or when you knooow there is a word for a certain sentence, but just can’t remember it, whatever you do? And of course, the eternal questions from non-writing people who you recently discussed in your blog post.
L: The worst! And yes, I took a lot of examples from real people on “What Not to Say to a Writer”. The struggle is real. So, what do you do when are dealing with a writing block?
H: That is such a sucky thing to happen! When it does, I try to remember it’s not the end of the world (although it might feel like it…). Then I either do something creative – paint, draw, try something new I’ve never done before. Or I go outside, get some fresh air. Music always helps as well. But really, the very best way is to grit one’s teeth and work through it. One must write to be able to write, as hard as it sometimes feels.
L: Great advice, Heli! Yes, it’s not the end of the world — and don’t give up on it! So, when you aren’t writing, what do you do for fun?
H: Binge watching stuff with my husband or playing with my kid. Whenever I have a moment for myself, I like to draw or paint. I really enjoy taking long walks as well.
L: Awesome! Is there a word or phrase that people say that just annoy you so much?
H: Hmm… a good question. I’ve always been ticked off when people say “But it’s always been this way” as if we shouldn’t seek progress. I appreciate history and tradition, but I also believe we must always try to become better. Just doing something simply because that’s how our grandparents did it, isn’t enough of a justification in my mind.
L: This is why I love you! I 1000% agree! Heli, do you have a particular author who inspires you or your writing style?
H: There are so many good ones, you for one! But off the top of my head, I can’t not mention JK Rowling. I also adore the classics, like Emily Bronte, Oscar Wilde. One of my all-time favorites is Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita”.
L: You’re sweet! Thanks! And I agree about your choices. Sometimes it’s good to read the current and the classics. So, since you are published, did you self publish or traditionally? And how what your experience with it?
H: Since I’ve only published short stories, I went the indie way. With my novel, I am trying out the querying world for a bit and then I’ll decide whether to go the traditional or self publishing route. My experience has been brief, but good. Publishing myself has taught me a great deal about the industry. It is easier in some ways, cutting out the querying part and such. At the same time, it demands a great deal of marketing skills and lots of self promotion.
L: Very true! It is hard, but it’s all the more worth it, I think! Are there any regrets you’ve had or wish someone told you sooner?
H: I can’t actually think of anything. Maybe that I should worry less. Things will work themselves out as you go along. You do the job and everything else will come to you.
L: Very true! Can you describe how your WIP is going with a GIF?
L: Oh my goodness, that’s hilarious!
H: The most accurate one I could find.
L: Alright, last question. Your words of wisdom. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
H: Whenever someone asks me that, I feel like, who the heck am I to give advice? But I have learned quite a few things during my adventure. The best thing I’ve heard and know to be true is to read, as much as you possibly can. And then write. Do not worry how it looks or if the words are exactly what you want them to be. You can fix all that later. Just get on it and grow your experience. Best way to do something is by doing it.
L: Perfect! Love it! Thank you so much Heli! It’s been so fun talking with you.
H: I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day Wishing you lots of ideas and inspiration for your writing! Can’t wait for the sequel to “Fliers”.
L: Thank you so much!!
I am a girl born in a tiny North-East European country of Estonia. Growing up, my main pleasure came from books. Even though it sounds like the biggest cliché out there, I have loved to read and write for as long as I can remember. My Mom tells me I started writing long before I could read. So I would write stuff and never manage to tell what it was about. I sure hope this will change soon…
As an adult (this is what they say I’m supposed to be now) I’m finishing my degree in graphic design, loving my wonderful Swedish husband, and playing endless animal-themed games with my three-year-old daughter. Whenever I am able to squeeze in some writing time, I work on my inter-dimensional fantasy series mixed with an occasional short story.
My first book, “The Heir of Thoth”, will be published quite soon, and this is where the scenery in this interview comes from. The Heir series is all about a magical, Ancient-Egyptian themed world of Gebeth. It is a realm of exotic foods, wonderful people, and gasp-worthy adventure. I can’t wait to share this world with everyone around! Because, you know, it’s all awesome and stuff.
If you are interested in some blood-curdling short stories, here are the links to her published works:
The Choice: Jonathan Mars, a fresh journalist, is on his first big case. His task is to investigate one of the most enigmatic serial killers in the country, a murderer, who nobody has had a chance to meet and live to tell the tale.
Joe has a fairly good idea who his target is. Alan Ribbon, 42. Convicted multiple times for violent crimes. An obvious choice. He has him in his pocket.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
As Joe finds himself in an agonizing hell on Earth, he is faced with the worst choice of his life. Joe’s world is about to be turned upside down.
The Silver Blade: Bael, an ancient demon treading the Earth, thinks he has the human kind figured out. He spends his lonely existence as a killer for hire, a monster of choice. Until he meets Tess, a petite book-loving brunette.
Intrigued by his newest victim, Bael secures his iron hold on her. He has no idea that Tess comes with a mind and secrets of her own.