First up, a quick synopsis. Helens of Troy is a quirky, well written and very original paranormal novel. There are three Helens – daughter Ellie, mum Helen and grandmother Helena. Goth teenager Ellie has a busy first day when she moves to the small town of Troy. She has a row with Helen, meets a hunky boy and then finds a corpse on Helena’s porch.
Helen is also having a tough time. She knows that her daughter is having vision-like dreams, since she’s had them too. But she’s not telling anyone. And also, like her daughter, she’s been attracted to dangerous men.
And there’s Gaspar Bonvillaine to deal with too. He’s a teen vampire and catches Ellie. Should he kill her or keep her with him forever?
To overcome the threats around them, Helen must recognise and use the gifts she has. Helena must learn to be there for her family. And Ellie must make a choice. Is she ready to grow up and become another in the line of the Helens of Troy?
I interviewed Janine to find out more about her and her writing.
1. What inspired you to write Helens of Troy?
The title came to me first. The original Helen of Troy we all know popped into my head, and I thought…what if there are more of them…and what if they have supernatural powers. Three Helens, living in a town called Troy.
2. Which character from the book are you most like – Helena, Helen or Ellie? Or Gaspar the vampire?
(Laughing) … I think at some point in my life I have been Helen and Ellie and I’m working my way towards Helena…never a Gaspar. At least not in this life.
3. Helens of Troy has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
I had their house in my head, and luckily a friend mentioned that another acquaintance lived in a house that fit what I was looking for. A few emails later and I got the go-ahead to shoot his home, so I grabbed my camera and shot it on a snowy day. My brother Tom Photoshop’ed the third floor and did some artificial landscaping, and voila, the LaRose home came to life. We played with some fonts for the title, and I found the talent on Shutterstock. It was a godsend to find a Goth-Chic with a bear in her arms.
Wadda ya mean would I like? (smile). Yes, of course. But it’s probably just as well that I don’t. From time to time I do have premonitions, and I do believe that I have seen ghosts. But I have no control over any of this. I wouldn’t want to be able to read people’s minds, that would just be too disturbing, but I wouldn’t mind a little super-human physical strength from time to time.
5. How many more books will there be in the series?
There are at least two more books in the series. Helena thinks she’s having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner alone with her girls, but we know that’s not going to happen. And they’re headed off to England for Christmas to meet Helena’s mother, Elaine.
6. I love hearing from the characters themselves on the website http://www.helens-of-troy.com/! Do they get many emails from fans?
Yes. Teenagers chat with Ellie and the rest of the world chats with Helena. Helen is a bit pissed-off about this, but she’s busy looking for a job anyway and doesn’t have a whole lot of time to respond. However, there was one mom who wanted some advice about dealing with a daughter who was going through a Goth phase…
7. Another book you’ve written is Olivia’s Mine. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Olivia’s Mine is based on a true story. In the early 1920’s, there were a series of disasters in the tiny mining community of Britannia Beach, BC. There were fires, and floods and the flu epidemic, but one night, the side of the mountain came down, killing hundreds as the town washed out into the sea. I spun a story around those events, and I’m quite pleased that the BC Museum of Mining carries the book in its gift shop.
8. Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?
I have to confess that I am a big fan of Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum series. I also recently read Liisa Ladoucer’s “Encyclopedia Gothica”, partly as research for the next instalment of the Helens. I also like biographies.
9. How has your background in film and television influenced your writing?
I write the dialogue first. That part of my writing comes from writing scripts. The narrative is harder for me, because of course, in scripts, it’s rather simple. Helena’s bedroom. Day. In my opinion, the dialogue in “Supernatural” is some of the best on TV, and I strived for that type of talk back and forth between the characters.
10. When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
When I was ten and reading Nancy Drew. I started my own mystery series with a little dime-store notebook. It lasted one book. I wasn’t big on follow-through when I was ten.
11. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Someone said to me, “What makes you think you can write a book?” And I said “What makes you think I can’t?” If you want to do it, do it. The sense of accomplishment is amazing.
12. What’s the best thing and the worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?
The best thing is you get the job done. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like it used to. The worst part is getting the word out. Not that I think authors that go the traditional route have any easier of a time with publicity. There is no right or wrong way to do it anymore. The work will stand on its own feet. Know your audience and target them. Give them a good story and hope they come back for more.
13. Enough of the serious questions. What are your three favourite foods?
1. Spaghetti. I can wolf down a bucket of it in one sitting. 2. Fresh Florida cantaloupe. I can smell it a mile away. 3. Celery. Go figure.
14. What do you like to do for fun?
I like to grab my camera and head out and see where the day takes me. Luckily my husband is a big planner, and I get to just go along for the ride. I have a permanently packed get-away bag, so we can be spontaneous. A couple of years ago we rented an RV and drove to Alaska. It was the trip of a lifetime.