Today I welcome author G.L. Helm to the FlipSide. For those of you unfamiliar with G.l., he’s just released his new contemporary romance called Sometimes in Dreams. Now let’s get everyone acquainted. Welcome G.L., why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience you now have before you.
OK then. Greetings blog travelers. My name is Gary, though I write under the name G. Lloyd Helm. The reason I do that makes sense to me, but mostly not to anyone else so I am not gonna try to explain. I am a classic ne’er-do-well scribbler who lives at sufferance from my remarkably patient wife. I went to college and got my Bachelor’s degree in History which was training for seeing the world with frightening accuracy, but not for making me useful anywhere. Consequently I have held a few different jobs down the years while continuing my literary ways, including dish washer, Taxi driver, department store clerk, mail handler, brick layer, ditch digger, house builder and house tear-er downer, but most importantly I have been house husband and father to my two sons. They were the bane of my existence when I was trying to write when they were young but I miss them terribly now they are grown and off on their own adventures.
Tell us about your writing process?
I am always puzzled when people ask me what my “writing process” is. I sit myself down in front of the computer and try to tell the story that has been buzzing around in my head for days or sometimes weeks or even years. Some days that story just rolls right out. Most days it has to be dragged kicking and screaming from my psyche and thrown onto the page which makes writing difficult for me, but I caught the literary disease a long time ago and I can’t seem to shake it so I just keep sitting down in front of the computer. When I am working good I manage to write at least a little everyday, or at least I try to fool myself into that belief. Sometimes though the process is sitting down and writing the word THE followed by a long pause before I finish the sentence with “HELL WITH IT.” And go for a walk. Still, I have managed to write several books and reams of short stories so I guess the method sort of works.
Is there a genre other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
I would like to write mysteries where the hardened private eye with a heart of gold solves murders that no one else can solve, or mysteries like John D. McDonald wrote. I’d like to create a new Travis McGee but I probably won’t. I write in the fantasy genre but my fantasies are not like everyone else’s. The only magic in anything I write is the magic of the moment. I create people who have power thrust upon them though most of the time they don’t want anything but to be left alone. Now that isn’t true in my book SOMETIMES IN DREAMS. It is pretty much a romance set in the fantasy world of Venice Italy, but it is fantasy cum tragedy.
Interesting. I have an idea for a murder mystery but I’m not sure I could make it engaging enough… What are the five books that have influenced you most and why?
I read voraciously and across boundaries. The only thing necessary to make a book interesting to me is that it have words in a line, but having said that I’ll try to narrow it down a little. Hang on cause this may shock and worry you, but the book that has most influenced my writing and my life is the Bible. I’ve read it cover to cover several times, believe some of it, disbelieve some of it, practice some of it’s lessons and pointedly do not practice some of its teachings. The stories in it are so good. They are so human. The good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys are sometimes bad at the behest of good intentions. Next I would say THE GRAPES OF WRATH, because my people were some of the Okies that came to California in the second wave that happened after WWII so I really identify with the Joads. Then would come any of the novels by Robert Heinlein. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. I like his independent characters who seem law abiding until it doesn’t suit their purposes anymore. Next would be Ray Bradbury’s stories, especially THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. His mind had so many dark fascinating alleys and his words were so magical that I was just sucked in from the first. I’m down to the fifth book and I’m stuck because there are so many. Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES because I know about Spain, since I lived there for three years. Kurt Vonnegut’s CAT’S CRADLE and SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE. But understand that any of these is interchangeable and they rise or fall in the list depending on my mood.
If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main character?
I must say straight out that I don’t know. I know the people in the books as themselves. I would have to leave it to someone else to decide who could play them.
What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers list?
If I woke to find SOMETIMES IN DREAMS on the NY Times Best Seller list the first thing I would probably do is cry with relief. I have struggled so hard and so long that such recognition would lift me to the heavens. The next thing would probably be to buy a full page ad in the Times that said “THANKS TO MICHELE Who believed. My epitaph will no doubt read HE MARRIED WELL.”
Do you have any vices you turn to while you are writing?
Don’t really have any vices anymore. I quit smoking twenty plus years ago and have never been much of a drinker. I like a beer now and again, but I have to be careful with that now because I am diabetic. I like naked women so I sometimes chase down pictures of same on the internet.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
See the above answer about pictures of naked women which tells you what I do when I’m not writing. And, as I also said above, I read voraciously. I also tend to just mind dump in front of the TV sometimes.
Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work in progress.
First nine lines—first paragraph actually—of what I am working on… it’s called
SERPENTS AND DOVES
“I started out to be a minister. That’s what I went to college to do. Learn how to preach the gospel. Learn about God and his will and how I fit into same. The first part was a bust. I didn’t make it to the ministry and I thank God everyday that I didn’t because I’m pretty sure I didn’t belong there. The second part, the learn about God part – we’ll see how that works out as I go along. I’m really torn about God. I’m of several minds about the creator stretching from profound faith to atheism, to thinking that he is some writer of sadistic comedy existing in some other dimension. I’ll have to wait until they pat me in the face with a shovel to really find out if I have learned anything about the creator of course, but that is still part of what I am working on in this life.”
Of course none of that is written in stone. It has already been changed a half dozen times and will probably be changed another half dozen before I finally quit fiddling with it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration? Beats me. I think it comes from still being a little boy who likes to play pretend in my heart of hearts. A lot of my stories are really just wish fulfillment. Isaac Asimov told me that he wrote because he liked the worlds he created better than he liked the real world. I can’t say that. A lot of the worlds I create are not wonderfully nice places but they are my worlds and I feel responsible for the creatures in them which makes me like God in those worlds which sorta inspires me to find gentler ways of dealing with my creatures. So I guess in a way we are back at the first question. I have found inspiration in the Bible. I mean one of my books WORLD WITHOUT END is a plain rip off of the Rebellion in heaven and other New Testament ideas so… yeah, put that down. “He is inspired by the Bible.” Makes me sound much classier than I actually am.
Thank you Gary for taking the time to answer all of my questions. Now let’s take a look at Sometimes in Dreams…
Daniel Pentland is a broken man; torn between the two women in his life. He is tormented by guilt over his love affair with a beautiful English girl he met while living in Italy, and the loyal devotion of his wife, Amanda.
Two years after the tragic death of his lover Kit, he is continually haunted by her memory. Across the sands of the Mojave Desert, her voice calls out to him, pulling at his heart and his memories.
Each night as Daniel wakes screaming and fighting against the phantom of Kit’s killer, his wife does her best to soothe his pain and help him overcome his grief.
Sometimes in Dreams is a story of redemption through a love that simply refuses to die.