Helen Yendall joins me on my blog this week to talk about what she gets up to when she’s not writing.
Helen’s debut novel A Wartime Secret was published earlier this year by HQ (Harper Collins) and she’s currently writing her second novel, due out in November 2022.
Over to Helen…
Many thanks to Morton for inviting me onto her blog
Before I was a writer I was an avid reader and that hasn’t changed. Favourite authors of mine include Kate Atkinson, Joanna Cannon, Sarah Waters, Liane Moriarty, Clare Chambers and Marian Keyes. I always have a book on the go, even if I only manage a page or two before falling asleep at night and at the moment I’m reading the fabulous debut by Bonnie Garmus, ‘Lessons In Chemistry’.
I’m also on the Steering Group of the Evesham Festival of Words and as part of that, I run a book group which meets once a month. It’s a great excuse to meet in a pub and talk about books and it also means I read outside my usual ‘book comfort zone’.
I’m lucky enough to live in a nice part of the world – the Cotswolds – and I spend a lot of time walking my dog, Bonnie, in the countryside. It’s a cliché but having a dog really does force you to get away from the desk and get some exercise, so it’s definitely a Good Thing.
I can’t claim to work out tricky plot issues when I’m walking though, as so many writers do. Bonnie’s a very lively spaniel, always sniffing something out and if I don’t keep a very close eye on her, she’s off, chasing pheasants, hare or deer (she never catches them!).
In addition to walking, I try to squeeze in as many visits to the local swimming pool as I can (even though we now live in a rural location, I’ve never had a pool so close. It’s just a 12-minute drive away). I used to be able to go 2 or 3 times a week but these days, it’s more like 2 or 3 times a month. I also go to Pilates once a week with my friend from next door. The class is held in the village hall and we go to the café afterwards for a restorative coffee and chat.
I’m a member of a local tennis club and I try to play as much as possible but it’s not as often as I’d like.
I’ve been teaching creative writing to adults since about 2005, when someone who was double-booked, asked me to take over an adult ed. evening class. Talk about baptism of fire!
‘Teaching’ writing – I have learned – is as much about inspiring and giving students confidence as it is about the nuts and bolts of constructing a story or a poem.
I currently have 3 daytime classes, so those take up a fair bit of my time. They’re leisure classes, for enjoyment rather than a qualification and although some students have been published – or aspire to be – many simply want to flex their writing muscles. We always have a laugh in the classes and they’re a lot of fun.
The one thing you won’t find me doing very often is watching TV. I haven’t got Netflix and I’ve never seen Bridgerton or a single episode of Peaky Blinders. Someone told me once that if you want to write, you have to give up something and I’ve given up TV, almost completely. I do still watch the odd thing (The Split and Derry Girls, for example) but as evenings (as well as mornings) are the best times for me to write, that’s another reason I have to give TV a miss.
But I do have another weakness: Twitter. I could easily while away hours on Twitter every day but I try to restrict myself to a few minutes at a time. Lots of people say they don’t ‘get’ Twitter but I find it a great resource for writers (and readers). I actually saw the competition that secured me an agent, on Twitter. As long as you block the weirdos and mute all the words you don’t want to see in your feed, you can have a lot of fun – and a lot of laughs – on Twitter.
About Helen Yendall
Helen Yendall has been writing ever since she could pick up a pencil.
After many (many!) years spent writing short stories, articles and poetry, she got an agent in 2020 (Robbie Guillory at Underline Literary Agency), finished her first novel and secured a 2-book deal with HQ Digital (Harper Collins).
She’s a member of the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association).
Helen has a degree in English and German and has worked in a variety of marketing and export roles in factories, a camping club, a university and a children’s charity, all of which have provided inspiration for her fiction.
She likes the way fiction can help make sense of the world and that, as a writer, she can give good people the happy ending they deserve.
Helen blogs at: www.blogaboutwriting.wordpress.com
Follow her on Twitter: @helenyendall
About A Wartime Secret
My debut novel, A Wartime Secret, published by HQ (Harper Collins) is set in wartime Britain, when feisty Eastender Maggie Corbett moves from London to the countryside, thanks to her job in a merchant bank. The inspiration came from the real story of a bank that moved from the City to Upton House (now owned by the National Trust) at the outbreak of World War Two.
There are mysteries and secrets (of course!), a romance and a few surprises along the way. Although it’s set during the war, it’s an upbeat story and I hope it will make the reader smile. One reviewer described it as ‘Eastenders Meets Downton Abbey’, which I rather like!
England, 1940. Can Maggie keep her family – and her secret – safe? An emotional and heartbreaking wartime novel for fans of Diney Costeloe, Dilly Court and Mandy Robotham.
When Maggie’s new job takes her from bombed-out London to grand Snowden Hall in the Cotswolds she’s apprehensive but determined to do her bit for the war effort. She’s also keeping a secret, one she knows would turn opinion against her. Her mother is German: Maggie is related to the enemy.
Then her evacuee sister sends her a worrying letter, missing the code they agreed Violet would use to confirm everything was well, and Maggie’s heart sinks. Violet is miles away; how can she get to her in the middle of a war? Worse, her mother, arrested for her nationality, is now missing, and Maggie has no idea where she is.
As a secret project at Snowden Hall risks revealing Maggie’s German side, she becomes even more determined to protect her family. Can she find a way to get to her sister? And will she ever find out where her mother has been taken?
It’s available from Amazon here
WH Smith (online) here
It’s also in The Works’ shops and on-line here
Thank you, Helen. I wish you every success with your books. Mx