Mermaid Picnics, Computer Gaming, and Dismembering The Past! Yes, We Have The Award Winning Helen Ginger In The House!

Settle in, folks, this is going to be a ride with a lots of twists and turns with this fascinating guest. Helen Ginger is the author of five books: three non-fiction, a short story anthology and a contemporary fiction, Angel Sometimes which won the 2013 USA Best Book Award For Fiction. She maintains an informational and interactive blog for writers and a weekly e-newsletter that has been going out to subscribers around the globe for thirteen years. She is an owner-partner and Women’s Marketing Director for Legends In Our Own Minds®, which specializes in creative networking opportunities for companies and groups.

And how could I not be enchanted with someone whose blog is titled Straight From Hel!

Madame Perry: Welcome to Madame Perry’s Salon, Helen. We’re delighted to have you here. 

Helen Ginger: I am so glad to be here, too. Thank you for inviting me. 

MP: It’s remarkable to find that after following your blog and being twitter pals for years, plus reading about you and your work, I’m still astounded at all that you do. Among the list is blogging, ghostwriting, public speaking, author, editor, and you teach most every skill that you do. How many times a day are you asked how you do it all?

HG: Rarely does anyone ask me how I do it all. I think authors are all busy every day. If we're not writing, we're promoting, or connecting with readers or plotting out the next book or the next book tour.

MP: I love your book Angel Sometimes. Angel was taken 800 miles from her home in Oklahoma to South Padre Island, Texas and abandoned with only $50 just before her thirteenth birthday. Years later she hitchhikes to AustinTexas where she makes a life and makes plans for revenge while working as a mermaid in a restaurant/bar. 
The mermaid part of the story was a window into a world completely unknown to me, and quite captivating. The training, extraordinary tricks like eating underwater, special contact lenses and even getting in costume pull the reader in to a world as strange to us as being homeless was to Angel. I learned you were also a mermaid. Please tell us about it. How did you start, what were some of the best – and not so fun – parts?

HG: I gave Angel the job of swimming as a mermaid because I knew she could do it. Although I swam while I was in college, you don't have to have a degree to be a mermaid. You just have to not be scared. When I wrote Angel Sometimes, I gave her the job that I knew the most about and I knew she could do. She wears special contacts. I did not. The mermaids at AquarenaSprings wore goggles. We took them off during the picnic.  

When I started college, I needed a job to help pay for books, classes, etc. I worked as an assistant for one of my instructors. Then I went and applied to swim at Aquarena Springs and got the job. You go through quite a bit of training, such as synchronized swimming, and eating and drinking underwater. We mostly ate celery, strings removed (nothing pretty about celery strings caught in your teeth) and drank punch (not carbonated). 

To tell you the truth, I can't think of anything that wasn't fun about the job. Well, there was one time it wasn't fun. The swimmers came in to work and were told that a huge wall of water would be coming in that day (The river that Aquarena was on was fed by hundreds of springs and where that water comes from had been having a flood of rain.) So we all got together to move what we could to high ground and anchor down what couldn't be moved. The Ralphs were moved. (If you were a visitor to Aquarena you probably thought there was only one Ralph, there were several. Unlike the swimmers, the Ralphs could only swim one show, then they had time to recover before doing another show.) So…after all that, we were told to get in the water and swim the show. The water was so murky that we could hold a hand up in front of our face and not see it. We had to move the synchronized swimming close up to the window of the submarine. For picnic, we held onto the screws on the submarine while we ate. After the show was over, we, as usual, went out on the volcano to wave goodbye to the visitors. One man came out of the sub. 

Aquarena Postcard with Mermaid
and Author Helen Ginger (Lower Left)
MP: You’ve written three books in TSTC Publishing's TechCareer Series on Computer Gaming, Avionics, and Automotive Technicians. We likely can see what differentiates these from your novels and short stories, are there similarities in writing techniques or skills needed?

HG: Usually, for both fiction and nonfiction, you have to do research. For my non-fiction writing, I had to do a ton of research on each topic, including interviews with instructors or people in the business, finding as many of the schools in the US that teach that degrees, finding what classes are needed to get that degree, and more. I had a three month turnaround time for each book. I did quite a bit of traveling and spent hours transcribing what I had recorded. For fiction, you mostly make it up. Angel Sometimes was based on my experience to a certain extent. But my second fiction book, Dismembering the Past, is not based on me or my experience. One thing about Angel is that I know her more deeply than any other character. I started writing her years before the book came out. I wrote her at twelve years old. Around that time, I received a scholarship to the Vermont Studio Center and spent a month rewriting her as a young adult. I literally felt as though she was talking in my head.

MP: I learned from your website that you are owner/partner and the Women’s Marketing Director for Legends In Our Own Minds®. Could you tell us what this is and what sparked its creation? 

HG: Legends is a company my husband started. We do hunting, fishing and golfing expeditions. Mostly, what I do is maintain the website.
Helen Ginger

MP: Your newest book is Dismembering The Past. Dare I ask what it’s about? Just looking ahead to October when I plan to feature a suspense, thriller, or horror novel every day. 

HG: Here's the back cover blurb: Private Investigator, Matti McAllister, is searching for a missing 67 year-old woman who got on her bicycle and disappeared at the same time The Texas Butcher came to Mesquite Cove. The Texas Butcher has already killed twelve women around the state, dismembering them and displaying the body pieces. While hiding among the thousands of visitors in town for the Texas Teacup Sailboat Festival, he'll add three more -- unless the FBI and Matti can stop him.

If he doesn't kill her first. 

MP: You offer so much information on your blog about technique, events, resources and advice for writers. How can writers retain your services as an editor or advisor on their work?

HG: I’m doing very little editing now. I have one or two returning writers whom I edit. My focus at the moment is on writing. I'm open to talking with other writers, though. Sometimes if you're stuck at a point in your book, it helps to just talk it out.

MP: I know I spoke of this earlier, Helen, but just reading your website makes me feel like a total slacker. You definitely make the most of your talents! Thank you for spending so much time with us here. I hope you’ll return.

HG: Thank you for hosting me! If anyone has a question, I'll try to answer.

MP: Naturally a person as busy as Helen has all the good social media so we can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, read her blog Straight From Hel, and learn more about her books, newsletters, coaching, and her long time vices. I have an Amazon link on the upper left corner of this site so you can order Angel Sometimes, or go straight to Helen's Amazon author page.



Anonymous said…
Engrossing interview. Helen Ginger is obviously a prolific and worthy writer. Will explore further!
Helen Ginger said…
Hi David. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. What do you write?
Mason Canyon said…
Helen, enjoyed the interview. Your latest book, Dismembering The Past, sounds intriguing. I'm like Madame Perry, I don't how you do all you do, but you do it so well. Wishing you continued success.
Helen Ginger said…
Hi Mason. I wish I could say I do it all, but I'm like everyone else. I juggle things.
Cozy in Texas said…
Great interview Helen and love your picture. Always good to see your smiling face.
Diane Fanning said…
And not only is Helen hardworking and a captivating writer, she's also a terrific and giving person. But y'all can probably see that in her cute smile!

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