Today I am joined by the lovely writer, Helene Leuschel, for a very interesting Q & A.
Helene & myself crossed paths on twitter and I was only too delighted to welcome her onto Swirl and Thread to answer all the questions I threw at her!!
A very interesting person, please do read on to learn a little bit more about Helene and her latest book, Manipulated Lives, a collection of 5 novellas.
Also check out my blog later in the week when Helene writes a fantastic Guest Post on
‘Nature, nurture and the ability to empathize’….. It’s a fascinating post!!
With such an unusual surname Helene, can you share with us a snippet or two of where you are from?
Certainly! I was born in Brussels of German parents.
My mother had arrived in Belgium as a trilingual interpreter and my father moved to Brussels to work in a bank. They never left because they very much appreciated the laid-back mentality there, so my siblings and I grew up learning Flemish, French, German and later English at school.
Belgium is a great place where nationality doesn’t matter much and offers amazing opportunities to meet people of all cultures.
I am what is called a typical Euro kid, not the nicest of descriptions but I guess people just like labelling anything and everything.
You have had a really interesting career in media, moving around quite a lot… Brussels, London, Edinburgh!! How did you get involved in journalism?
Yes, I have always enjoyed contributing articles for the school journal as a kid and as mentioned I love discovering different cultures, languages and of course hearing other people’s stories.
During the last two years of my studies at University I landed a freelance reporting job at the national radio station in Brussels and wrote articles for local magazines. By the end of my studies I stumbled upon a job advert for the creation of a European TV channel in London.
I applied and the ensuing job offer made my dream come true: living and working in London!
Five years into my job I met the love of my life and after both deciding to go freelancing decided to move to Edinburgh. In journalism it doesn’t so much matter where you live as long as there is a busy international airport nearby!
Oh Helene you are living the dream!! Sunshine and blue skies!! I’ve been to The Algarve numerous times on holidays but you live there. What inspired such a life-changing move?
My husband and I decided to make the move when our children were still young enough to adapt (3 and 7) and we haven’t looked back.
We had visited the Algarve many times before because my parents had retired to the region. So we got to know the area well over time and felt at ease with the people there.
The idea was to step away from the big city and its stressful and highly competitive lifestyle and offer our children the experience of a life by the sea while still enjoying a good education and the opportunity to learn anything they are interested in (Lagos has an astounding offer of activities for children)!
It’s not always easy to be so far from family and friends but luckily they love visiting us here regularly.
On researching for this Q & A, I read that you have recently acquired a Masters in Philosophy. That must have been a very tough challenge? How did you fit in the time? Please share your secret!!
A MA in philosophy is a challenge but as it was spread over three years and I accepted that when others were watching TV for instance I had my nose stuck between the pages of a textbook or analyzing philosophy papers.
It was tough at times and my family was visibly relieved to see the end of it but I believe it is mainly a time management issue. Getting up before everyone else, downloading papers onto my iPhone so I could read wherever and whenever I found extra time and certainly giving up other activities for a while all made it possible.
Something’s got to give or it just doesn’t happen but for me it has been worth the effort!
We are here today to discuss your debut novel, Manipulated Lives….
Five Stories-Five Lives….
Where did the idea for this book come from and can you please tell us a bit about the book?
I mentioned in the post that during the studies for my MA in Philosophy, I developed a keen interest for psychology, the philosophy of mind and more specifically the human capacity for empathy.
Personal tragic circumstances (a close relative had been the victim of psychological abuse for almost two decades) and the completion of a couple of creative writing courses with the OU and Oxford University have eventually made me pick up a pen and transfer my ideas into the writing of this collection of novellas.
Manipulators are everywhere and to some extent we all do use manipulative tools to reach our goals to some extent. Yet, narcissistic and perverted individuals who lack the capacity for empathy are dangerous for all those who get in contact with them.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes, witnessed the devastating effects and in the process of writing stories made another dream come true: becoming an author.
Now for the quick fire round:
The five biggest influences on your writing career to date?
- I should start with my husband because without his encouragement I may have written my stories but definitely not published them.
- Secondly I’d have to mention Simone de Beauvoir as her work has awakened my love for philosophy and her autobiographical books made me realise that writing is hard work, includes the ability to self-edit ruthlessly and that there is no such thing as magic inspiration – if you want to write you need to write, then re-write and start writing again.
- Thirdly I have a keen interest in art, especially sculptures and paintings and during exhibition visits they often make me want to pick up a pen and write.
- Fourthly the study of philosophers of mind never seize to have an impact on my thoughts and also my writing.
- Lastly I should mention the fact that I am and always have been an avid reader. Not one day goes by that I read a few lines – at the very least!
The five items you would love to have with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
You say items, so I won’t include my family ( ).
Items I think I would like to bring are:
- tea, lots of tea actually,
- a thick notebook,
- a pen,
- a case filled with my favourite books
- and a hat.
Paper book or Reader??
Both, as long as it allows me to read the book I want to read, I’m not picky!
Pen & notebook or Pad/laptop?
Actually all of the above. I prefer a small notebook when I’m out and about, whereas in a plane it is definitely my iPad, at home the laptop.
Thank you so much to Helene for taking part in my Q & A.
Manipulated Lives is now available to purchase (details below). Here’s what the book is all about……
Manipulated Lives is a collection of five stories exploring the theme of psychological manipulation from five different perspectives:
- The first story is centred around a narcissistic pervert and his mysterious visitor who is attempting to make him acknowledge his past fatal mistakes
- The second story focuses on an elderly lady who has to live with the devastating consequences of having taken a wrong decision
- In the third story, a young woman is falling for a little boy and his troubled father
- A teenager is the central character in the fourth story, who is charmed by one of her fellow students and
- finally an ageing mother in the fifth story who is questioning her parental responsibility in contributing to her son’s demise.
You can purchase a copy of Helene’s book here
To find out more about Helene you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.