Helena Ray has always maintained that the world inside her head is much more exciting than the real world. Growing up as an only child, she spent many happy afternoons dreaming up companions. These included her evil twin in Mexico, puppets that would pop up out of the ground, and many a talking dog. Born the daughter of a newspaperman and a lawyer, words have always been a vital part of her life. Over the years, her love affair with the written word turned torrid, and she couldn’t stop herself from following in her parents’ footsteps.
She loves to travel, and her most recent adventures have included several trips to Paris, leisurely weekends on Lake Constance in Germany, and raucous nights in Dublin. She has traveled all over the United Kingdom and has lived in London and northern England. Currently, Helena lives in Texas with her very handsome boyfriend, his two cats, and her also quite handsome dog. She hopes that readers have as much fun occupying her imaginary worlds as she has creating them.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: I’m a huge fan of Victorian literature, and Charlotte Brontë and Thomas Hardy will always be two of my favorites. I love the way their books document epic spans of time, using just a few scenes to illustrate fully developed, vibrant characters. Jane Eyre and Tess Durbeyfield from Tess of the d’Urbervilles are my own personal heroes and are present in all of my heroines. I’m also a big fan of Nick Hornby, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Sedaris for their unique and natural approaches to language and dialogue. And I take more than a little inspiration from my fabulous fellow Siren authors Jenny Penn and Sophie Oak!
Q: Describe your typical writing day.
A: I like to start my writing days with a few hours of reading and a giant cup of coffee. I get so much inspiration from reading other romance authors. Then I refill on caffeine, review my previous day’s work, and begin writing furiously. I don’t write in chronological order. Instead, I just start writing whatever scene is in my head and keep writing until it’s complete. I often find myself writing for three or four hours straight without so much as a bathroom break!
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
A: The research and brainstorming, without a doubt! I love getting to spend days just letting my characters develop in my mind and, wacky as it sounds, listening to them tell me about their lives and their romances. While writing in the Male Order series, I’ve had so much fun fictionally buying things for my characters. I’ve always wanted a Bentley!
Q: Your settings are so vivid. Where do you get your inspiration?
A: My love of architecture and built spaces is up there with my love of books and handsome men. The buildings in my books are always a mishmash of different places I’ve visited or studied. I gather pictures of my settings and describe them extensively before I start writing the rest of the scene. I always end up cutting paragraphs worth of physical description! Much of my inspiration comes from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and French architecture and late-twentieth-century American architecture and interior design.
Q: You can have a dinner party with any three people, dead or alive. Who would you invite?
A: First on my list would be Horace Walpole, the infamous eighteenth-century English writer, arts patron, and dilettante. The parties at his estate were legendary, and he practically invented the genre of Gothic fiction! I’d also graciously extend an invitation to Alexander Hamilton. Not only was he one of the most brilliant of America’s founding fathers, he was quite dashing to boot. And he died in a duel. What a way to go out! Audrey Hepburn would have to round out my dinner party invite list. I try to emulate her beauty and grace every single day.
Q: Besides reading and writing, do you have any hobbies?
A: Yes, many! I’ve played the piano since I was 9 years old and still play whenever I get a few free minutes, and I love listening to nearly any kind of music. Playing or listening to romantic composers always gets me centered for a nice evening of writing or revising. I’m an avid figure skating fan and watch the sport religiously, especially the men’s event! Have you seen how handsome those guys are? I also love taking a good dance class, and cuddling on the couch and watching a movie or six.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s block? And if you do, what helps you get through it?
A: I tend to get writer’s block at least once or twice over the course of any project. Sometimes it feels like the characters just want to take a little break, so I give it to them. If I have the luxury, I try to take a day or so off writing and concentrate on something else. If I’m under a deadline, I’ll play with my dog , prod my boyfriend into cuddling for a bit, or just lie on the floor listening to records. When I’m not thinking about writing, something triggers in my brain and the creativity comes rushing back!
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