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Interview with Cupán Fae Author Helen Carroll

Helen Carroll lives in Waterford City with her boyfriend and their diva of a hound named Fiadh. During her seven-year escapade in Dublin, she successfully infiltrated and commandeered the Dublin NaNoWriMo community where she met a multitude of wonderful writers and cofounded Cupán Fae five years ago. Helen has contributed to Cupán Fae Anthologies: Dublin’s Fierce City, Fierce Mighty, Fierce New World, and Fiercepunk.

What genre do you like to write in most?

I love writing fantasy, especially fantasy with hard magic systems. Worldbuilding with magic is so much fun. I also dabble in soft sci-fi. Gotta love space pirates!

Are you a plotter or a pantser, and how does that work for you?

I started out as a pantser before I knew what plotting was, as many writers do when they’re kids. Even in school when my English teacher would demand to see the outline of my stories, I’d have to do up an outline after I had written the piece. Then, when I decided I wanted to be a writer, I got really into books on writing craft and writing courses and youtube writing advice videos and blog posts etc. and became a plotter, to the point where I was only outlining and then moving onto the next project without writing. Whoops! I’m now going back to old ways of plotting after I write, so in that sense, I’m a mixture of both when it comes to novels and longer short stories. For short stories under 5,000 words, though, I pants all the way.

Which of your short stories did you enjoy writing the most, and why?

I think the most fun I’ve had writing recently was during the drafting of my Dungeonpunk story in Fiercepunk called “Murder at Dungeon World Aarnikotka”. When I started writing from the character’s point of view, next thing I could hear her jaded gravelly voice speaking like a hard-boiled detective in a noir film. I wrote it from start to finish in one sitting! It was great!

When did you write your first short story? How old were you? What was it about?

I wrote my very first short story (complete with drawings) was when I was six, I think. It was about a bunny monster living in a cellar and a little girl goes down the scary stairs to fight the monster with the help of a spider. The girl got eaten by the bunny monster, but, using a feather gifted to her from the spider, she tickled the bunny from inside its stomach and it sneezed so hard it exploded into dust. She escaped the cellar but slipped and knocked herself out. When she woke up she thought it was all a dream until the spider, now the size of a dog, informed her otherwise. I was a weird kid.

What does your ideal writer lifestyle look like?

Oooh, brandy and books with a writing desk on a sunny lakeside… 

I jest, though that does sound heavenly. No, my ideal writer lifestyle would be to work parttime and write for the rest of the day. I actually took six months off work two years ago to try the fulltime writer gig, but the lack of structure to my day did more damage to my writing career than good. I need routines and deadlines to help motivate me to put the work into writing. If I have only an hour to spare to write, I’ll definitely get it done. However, if I have an entire day, week, month… I will keep putting it off, convincing myself I have all the time in the world, and then the writing never gets done. Ah well, at least I know now, right?

I think the best writing year I ever had was during my last year of college. Being super busy with coursework, my Final Year Project, running the Literary Society, etc. etc. I also wrote loads. This was the year I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time, and I wrote so many short stories (and terrible poetry about dinosaurs!) it was amazing. I was so productive! So, yeah: earning enough from writing to work parttime and write parttime would be absolutely fantastic. 

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