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An Interview with G.L. Helm – Author of Sometimes in Dreams

Sirens Call Publications recently released Sometimes in Dreams, a novel from G.L. Helm. At the moment, G.L. is making the rounds of the bloggosphere promoting his book and we were lucky to sit down and have a conversation with him. This is what transpired…

Gary_HelmG. L. Helm has been writing for forty years. He has traveled around the world with his long suffering Air Force wife. They raised two sons while living in Spain, Germany, and Italy, and in less exotic places like Virginia and Indiana. He now lives in Lancaster Ca.  Helm has written four novels, three of which fall more into the fantasy genre than Sometimes in Dreams. He has also written reams of short stories which have been published in anthologies around the world.  He is grizzled and scarred by life but he is still tough enough to keep punching out the words.

What made you decide to become a writer?

I first thought of writing a book when I was about twelve years old. Since then I have always had the yen to create worlds that I might control in ways I could not control the real world. I found out pretty quick after beginning to write that there is no real control in either world.

What is Sometimes In Dreams about?

Sometimes in Dreams is a story about  a man caught up in a situation he doesn’t quite know how to deal with. While living in Italy he meets and instantly is smitten by a young English woman, though he is happily married. He finds himself torn between Kit, the English girl and Amanda the woman he has loved for thirty years. From the beginning Daniel knows that this affair is not going to end well.

What is the one thing you would like readers to know about Sometimes in Dreams before they read it?

Sometimes in Dreams is not a typical romance novel though it falls into the genre. The protagonist is not some dashing hero. He is an all too human man caught up in a storm of passion over which he has little control and caught up in the swirling world events of the late 1990’s.

What is your writing process? Do you consider yourself a planner or a pantser?

Actually I am a little bit of both of those. I usually have at least a rough idea of what the story is going to be about, but sometimes the story rather takes off on its own and surprises me.

How would you like readers to see Daniel?

Daniel is an unconventional man. He has lived a strange life as a house husband and father and he has continued to write though he hasn’t had much success at it. He is brave and macho in many ways, but he also has a very soft artistic side.

How would you like readers to see Amanda?

Amanda is as unconventional as her husband. She is tough and tough minded but she has an absolutely bottomless love for Daniel.  The trouble with Amanda is that she has given herself over to her Air Force Career in so many ways that her love for Daniel sometimes gets lost.

How would you like readers to see Kit?

Kit is both sophisticated and naive. She is a talented architecture student who has had to battle the society she grew up in to do what she wants to do, but she has a deep need to be loved by a man. She has been abused both physically and mentally but she has fought back from that abuse and is trying to make her own way.

In your opinion, what sets Sometimes in Dreams, apart from other books of the same genre?

Several things. The modern setting in the ancient culture of Venice. The reversed home life of Daniel and Amanda. The deep true and abiding love of Amanda for Daniel despite all that happens.

What is the hardest challenge that you have faced as a writer?

Very hard to answer. Of course there is the everyday challenge of the blank page. It is hard beyond belief to sit down in front of the Computer every day and create a world, even if, like in Sometimes in Dreams, the world is really just a slice of a real place. But one of the hardest challenges for me has always been just being able to steal enough time from taking care of family and tending to things in the real world and still have time and heart to write. And of course the rejection. The rejection can steal the heart out of you if you let it, but I have just always been too damn dumb to quit.

Are you reading anything right now? Anything special recently?

I am constantly reading. I have the word addiction in the worst way. I can’t go to bed at night without a book. I usually carry one where ever I go. I stand in line at the bank reading.  I am currently reading a book called “Spiritual Envy” which is about agnosticism. I have a kind of philosophical bent now and again. I just finished reading the first volume of Mark Twain’s Autobiography. I loved it. He is still one of my favorite authors.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite novels?

Another hard question. My favorite authors are all over the map. I love classic American novels from Hemingway and Steinbeck and Twain, but I also like the old pulp fiction SF from Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury. I like detective fiction too. Nero Wolf, John D. McDonald, Dick Francis.  I really don’t have favorite novels though. I pretty much love whatever I am reading at the moment. If I don’t love it I quit reading it. I did read the Ring Trilogy a couple of times and really loved them.

How do you define success as a writer? Have you been successful?

Success as a writer is hard to define. It certainly isn’t by how much money you make because lots of great writers died broke. I think success is measured in longevity. If people are still reading your work in a hundred years you are successful whether or not you make a dime at it. As to my success—we’ll have to wait and see. In some ways I will have to say yes I have been because I have had people come back to me after reading my books and tell me that what I said really struck them and made them think. That’s a kind of success, but as I said, it remains to be seen.

Do you have any words of wisdom about writing to pass on to novelists and writers just starting out?

You really know how to ask some damned hard questions. I don’t want to sound like a cynic or a smart ass, but when young people come to me and talk about wanting to write I usually try to discourage them. If they really do have the literary sickness they are going to write no matter what I say but if they can be discouraged then they weren’t going to really write anyway. But I tell those who are determined that they should write for themselves. You can tweak your work a little to make it appeal to a publisher but mostly you just have to be pleased with what you write or it isn’t worth the hassle.

What should readers walk away from your book knowing? How should they feel?

Depends on the book. Because my four novels have been in different genres the feeling at the end of each one is different.  The feeling I hope for at the end of Sometimes in Dreams is happiness. Gladness that Daniel seems to have finally found a means to cope with his tragedy and that Amanda continues to love him as she has all along. I want the reader to feel that, though life is not going to be perfect for Daniel and Amanda, it is going to be good.

***

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.

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