Monday, November 14, 2011

DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT: Author Interview ~ Helen Hanson

Hi everyone :-)
I will be starting today's post of with some great NEWS!!  I was approached over the weekend by a great author named Melissa Foster and she asked me if Mystery Writers Unite would be interested in interviewing a whole bunch of authors for an upcoming December Book Launch Event. Needless to say I was honored and touched by the request and was certainly "on board". As a result, the plans in motion for the posts for November were moved around and for the next two and half weeks Mystery Writers Unite will be showcasing the work and talent of some great authors. To start the ball rolling.....

Mystery Writers Unite is THRILLED to be supporting the work of Helen Hanson, author of 3 LIES and DARK POOL (see below). 

Helen has directed operations for high-tech manufacturers of semiconductors, video games, software, and computers. Her reluctant education behind the Redwood Curtain culminated in a B.S. in Business Administration with concentrated studies in Computer Science.  She also learned to play a mean game of hacky sack.
One of Helen’s true passions is writing thrillers about desperate people with a high-tech bent. Hackers.  The CIA. Industry titans.  Guys on sailboats.  Mobsters. Their personal maelstroms pit them against unrelenting forces willing to kill.  Throughout the journey, they try to find some truth, a little humor, and their humanity — from either end of the trigger.

Helen is a licensed private pilot with a ticket for single-engine aircraft and she currently lives amid the bricks of Texas with her husband, son, and a dog that composes music with squeaky toys.

--- Interview

MWU: Let me start by saying thank you for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you. I’ve never met a female pilot before and I find that extremely uplifting and empowering. My first question has very little to do with writing and books but I have to ask; when did you first become interested in becoming a pilot?
Helen Hanson: Thanks for letting me hang out here today!  My flight training tapped into parts of me that I didn’t know existed.  I never wanted to be a pilot until my husband decided to finish his training.  I signed up for ground school before I’d ever flown in a small plane.  My first flight was positively exhilarating. Compared to a commercial jet, flying in small aircraft is a wholly intimate experience. The first day we were legal, my husband and I flew over San Francisco.  It was glorious.

MWU: Now on to the good stuff (she says smiling). You’ve got two books out; DARK POOL AND 3 LIES and I noticed in one book your main character is male and in the other female. In my writing, I tend to lean towards writing female leads and I wondered if writing a male lead was difficult?
Helen Hanson: Ha! It’s a joke at my house that I skew male.  If you’ve seen the movie Kate & Leopold that line makes more sense.  I’m the youngest of seven kids, and the other six were rooting for a boy.  I think it messed with my prenatal psyche J  I made a grown man cry once when I took away his stuffed rabbit.  Yes, I apologized.  Yes, I gave it back to him. Yes, I felt badly.   I wish that one was a joke. 

MWU: In DARK POOL one of the character’s suffers from the early onset of Alzheimer’s and in 3 LIES one of the character’s is dealing with kidney failure and I wondered if you had to do a lot of research about these conditions and how difficult it was to find accurate information.
Helen Hanson:  Research is my Kryptonite.  I get absorbed to the point of distraction.  Medical advances fascinate me.  The home dialysis systems give people mobility that wasn’t available in prior eras and offers more accessible and convenient care.   As for Alzheimer’s, my research was first hand.  My father died from this wretched disease, and I often wondered what he experience on his side. 

MWU: Aside from your main characters in each of your books, who is your favorite character and why?
Helen Hanson:  I’d like to sit next to Amir on a long train ride.  His face graces the cover of 3 LIES.  With his background the conversation would be intriguing if not entirely transparent.  We would chat, perhaps sip red wine, and both of us would observe the other passengers.  He would pretend to be someone other than who he really is, in part, for my safety.  Because he would find me charming and wouldn’t want to have to kill me.  When we reached our destination, he would turn left, I would turn right, and we’d never meet again.

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in each of your books and why is it your favorite?
Helen Hanson: I like the quiet scenes where people reflect on their damage.  They struggle with the choices, and in the end, they step out on some kind of faith.   

MWU: From either book, is there a character that you may like to go back to at another time and write about them again?
Helen Hanson:  Vonda Creevy appears in both books.  Doug requests that he be featured in his own full-length novel as does Amir.  Clint wants to be left alone, but Paige demands air-time to tell her side of the story.  Maggie and Travis will go anywhere they aren’t hounded by the press.

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Helen Hanson: My version of writer’s block is: what happens next?  I know how the story ends, but I don’t have a road map of every side road I plan to take.  It’s the same way I travel.  Ooh, let’s stop and see the cup flipper.  No.  We saw the gator farm last time.  How about the world’s largest porcupine?  As a writer, the journey better be fun.  If it’s not entertaining, I might as well stay home.

MWU: I always ask a published author what advice he would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?
Helen Hanson: Listen:  To your own voice.  To your critics.  To your characters.  Read:  About the craft.  Books in your genre. Books that make you think.

MWU: How much did your writing process change from your first book to your second book?
Helen Hanson: I gained confidence in my voice and what works on the page.  I have to please me first.  Consequently, my first draft was stronger and came together more quickly.  Just as important, I was more attuned to my personal excesses.  Apparently, I have many . . .

MWU: How do you choose your titles for your books? Do you decide on them right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose?
Helen Hanson: I prefer organic titles that grow out of the work.  I always have a working title so I don’t have to call it Hey You!  By the 90,000th word, we are past the first-name-basis stage and on to making travel plans.

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from either of your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
Helen Hanson: The characters are real.  Their stories are honest, gritty, but I don’t wade in details for the sake of them.  I want to know what kind of gun someone is holding, but I don’t want to know how to field dress it.  I’d much rather know what their thinking.  I enjoy gallows humor and laugh at my own jokes. At my best I’m reminded of Grisham when he makes me laugh.  My stories are technology-based, but I’m told the information is presented in a way that is easy to understand. Time!

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?

Helen Hanson: Hi!!!  Thanks for giving a rat’s patoot about my books and making it this far!  Seriously.  We write alone for months with no promise of anyone reading the title let alone all 400 pages.  I’m grateful for your time.  May it go well with you!

The synopsis for 3 LIES:
At CIA headquarters, a young officer discovers that terrorists may have commandeered their computer systems to launch an unauthorized mission. Elsewhere, conspirators abduct nine people to manipulate the rules of their game. Two disparate ambitions — Clint Masters becomes the reluctant link in the chain of danger.
Ever since Clint’s almost ex-wife dumped him, he bobs along the Massachusetts coast in a sailboat with his black lab for company. He avoids all forms of technology, a counterintuitive effort for the burned-out founder of CatSat Laboratories. Tired of clutching the brass ring, he needed to untether, step off the corporate treadmill, and smell a flower. Fortunately, he met one, a beautiful, unspoiled woman who doesn’t treat him like a commodity. His relationship with Beth offers more promise than his marriage ever did, even if she is on dialysis for her recovering kidneys, until she disappears.

In spite of the evidence, her family refuses to admit she’s in danger. Without routine dialysis, she won’t survive. As Clint realizes that he loves Beth, damn-near ex-wife Paige sashays back into his life with disturbing news.

While the CIA young gun tracks his quarry, Clint enlists the help of two men to find Beth, a blithe Brit named Merlin, and Todd, his playboy partner-in-tech. But Clint must find Beth before her kidneys fail. And before someone unloads a bullet in his head.

The synopsis for DARK POOL:
By this time in her life, Maggie Fender expected to be on her way to law school. Instead she’s far from any degree, waiting tables to support her teenage half-brother and their ailing father.  With early onset Alzheimer’s, her father’s lucid moments are few and unpredictable. 

Her brother’s legal defense for felony hacking charges strained their finances to a snap.  In spite of the conviction, he claims he was framed.  But now that he’s on parole, he also claims their father is sending them messages.

Maggie’s tired of the struggle, but she’s everybody’s legal guardian.  Slowing down will lead to disaster.  She can hustle. Or face financial ruin.

This isn’t the life she envisioned. 

In the news, disgraced hedge fund manager Patty O’Mara awaits trial for bilking investors out of forty billion dollars.  The legendary dark pool wizard offered phenomenal profits until the SEC examined his books. Then they discovered O’Mara didn’t make any legitimate trades on the market. 

O’Mara ran his hedge fund the way Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff ran theirs.  It was all a fraud. 

One wealthy investor rallies the troop of irate victims by hiring a noted private investigator to find the missing pot of gold.  A Russian mobster, out thirty million in cash, prefers to search for the money alone and without witnesses.  Their competing efforts sift the same set of facts. 

So why are they interested in Maggie Fender’s incoherent father?

While SEC officials try to rebuild credibility for allowing the financial scandal to rage unchecked, the private investigator and the Russian mobster vie to answer a solitary question: 
What happened to all that money?  
This post is part of a DECEMBER BOOK LAUNCH EVENT ---->> Join HELEN HANSON and 9 of her author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!


Helen Hanson said...

Thanks for sharing your pixels with me, Becky! It was a fun interview with a fun lady! I appreciate your effort on this post. All the best!


Thinkhappy said...

Awesome interview, Helen! Looking forward to DARK POOL

author Scott Nicholson said...

Great interview, Helen!