Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Author interview - Helen Scheuerer

If you've ever glanced sideways at my blog in passing, you probably know how much I love YA fantasy. Spoiler alert - it's a lot. I was lucky enough to recently receive an ARC of just such a book -  Heart of Mist - from author Helen Scheuerer a few weeks back, but had to wait until by final exam was done before I'd let myself started. Go sensible me! It's a good thing too, because the book would have distracted the hell out of me while I was trying to study. Seriously, it's so good! It's the kind of book where you can stop thinking about the characters even after you've put it down. It's got absolutely everything I love in a book; far away lands, women who kick ass, sisterhood, friendship, magic and mystery. I'd better stop now, because otherwise I'll end up posting an entire, gushing review here! The review itself will be going up at the end of August when the book is released, so make sure you pop back and check it out, because it's awesome (the book, not the review)!

In the meantime though, Helen was kind enough to agree to an author Q&A ahead of the book's release. I absolutely love doing author interviews because, as someone who can barely write a shopping list without getting distracted, the process of taking a story from an idea in your head to a book that's ready to be released into the wild fascinates me. Having read, and loved (did I already mention how much I loved this book?) Heart of Mist, I had lots of questions about Helen's writing process, inspiration and characters. So here we go!

The Book

In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power. 

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers. The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.


The Interview

1) Tell us how Heart of Mist made the journey from imagination to print.

Sure! About a year and a half ago I was in the middle of some pretty intense edits for a literary fiction novel I’d been working on since forever… I was reading a lot of YA fantasy as an escape, and began to play with the idea of writing my own.

It became a reality when myself and two of my Writer’s Edit besties, Claire and Kyra, signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). We were all working on big projects and supported each other as the month progressed. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to have that kind of support while writing…

I wrote the first draft of Heart of Mist within about 6 weeks, and spent the next year revising and editing it…

2) Who would be the fantasy cast for the movie version of the book?

Ohhhhh this is such a hard question… Recently someone asked me this question about Bleak specifically, and I mentioned the likes of Dakota Fanning and Shailene Woodley, but the more I think of it the more I think Bleak would have to be a young, unknown actress…

For Commander Swinton, I always pictured him looking quite similar to Luke Evans…Who I may or may not have a slight crush on.

Mikayla interlude: A fine choice I think we can all agree!
As for the rest… I don’t want to put too many ideas in people’s heads. One of the things I love about reading is that there’s room for your own imagination!

3) Did you have any location inspiration for the lands in Heart of Mist?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have done some travelling over the last few years, and have seen some gorgeous landscapes. There are definitely elements taken from my trips to the UK that have found their way into Heart of Mist…

However, for the more imaginative settings I created Pinterest boards with inspiring images from all over the world. It was a matter of creating moodboards and themes throughout these, and then using them as springboards for writing the settings.

4) You've built a huge world with loads of characters! How do you keep everything organised when you're writing?

I never thought I’d say this but… spreadsheets! I have spreadsheets for character references, plots, subplots, setting references and research that needs to be done.

It’s honestly been so useful having everything in one place, and being able to search for things. I tend to feel overwhelmed at times, and having things organised in this way really helps me feel more in control.

5) Do you have a writing process, or any writing rituals?

At the moment, my writing process is such a mess because I’m just juggling too many things. But if you caught me on a good day…

I’m all about routine. I love writing every day if I can manage it. Particularly since I started writing fantasy, I’ve found that writing every day is really important for staying immersed in the world you’ve created.

Before a writing session, I like to write a mini plan in dot points including the events that will happen in the chapter I’m working on, and/or how a certain character should be feeling. This helps me focus and actually get the words on the page.

6) Have any you found elements of people or events from your life have made their way into the book?

Hmmm… It’s not something I’ve thought a lot about to be honest. Heart of Mist takes place in a world that is so different from our own, I haven’t stopped to draw parallels between its cast or events to myself and my world…

That being said, I imagine people who know me well will probably be able to spot some things I myself am not even aware of.

7) It's great - and pretty rare! - to see a realistic depiction of addiction/self-medication in a YA fantasy book. What made you decide to delve into this?

I’ve been talking a fair bit about this lately and I’ve realised it wasn’t something I consciously decided to explore. Bleak’s character developed and her addiction/self-medication with alcohol was a massive part of that. From there, I did make the decision to delve deeper because I think it’s important that we don’t gloss over these experiences in YA fiction. Addiction isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to adults, and often it’s something that starts in younger teen years, so I thought it vital to explore it as an issue my protagonist was facing.

8) There's a lot of girl power in this book! Did you set out to write this, or did it happen organically as the characters came together?

For the longest time I tried to fit a particular mold as a writer, which sadly meant I wasn’t writing what made me happy. I had a bit of a “light bulb” moment nearly two years ago where I realised I should be writing what I enjoyed reading, and what I enjoyed reading was girl power YA fantasy.

Heart of Mist was basically my way of giving myself permission to go crazy with strong female characters kicking ass. So while the characters came to me organically, it was definitely a deliberate choice - Heart of Mist was going to empower me, and hopefully my readers as well!

9) If you were an Ashai, what would your power be?

Wow, you’re really hitting me with the hard questions today! To be honest, I think the Ashai abilities explored in The Oremere Chronicles so far are all more of a burden than a blessing!!!

However, if I had to pick one - I’d be a mind whisperer (only if I had control over it though!).

10) What are your plans for this series? There'd better be more books coming!

Haha, yes! There are two more books planned for The Oremere Chronicles. Book II will be released next year, and Book III in 2019.

For keen readers though, I’ve already released two free prequel stories, which you can find here. I’ll be releasing prequels in between each book, to make sure everyone still gets their Oremere fix!

11) Sum up Heart of Mist in ten words or less.

Girl power. Magical. Dark. Gritty. Raw. Empowering. Adventure. Possibility. Danger.

Get the Prequels!

If, like me, you're the impatient sort and want to get into this series before the first book is released on 31 August, you can get two free prequels from Helen's website. Don't forget to head back over to check out my review of Heart of Mist, which I'll be posting on 25 August. Happy reading!


  1. Oh my goodness! How have I not heard more about this book! loving that cover, and intrigued by that synopsis! Looking forward to your review.

    - Deborah @ Hills of Books

    P.S have just tagged you in Unique Blogger Award

  2. Thanks Deborah. It's a brilliant book, I loved it. My review will be raves!

    And thanks for the nomination!

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