Helen didn’t start writing until she was 30.
“I thought authors were born and not made. I had the desire to write before then, but not the confidence.”
“I spent my college summers working in RTE. After university, they offered me a job. My role, at the Radio Centre, was twofold. I worked on all the programmes on air, with Dave Fanning, Gerry Ryan, and Larry Gogan, and in the live music department organising live music coverage.”
After eight years she was offered a year’s career break.
“I went to London and ended up staying.”
Freelancing, she worked at various jobs, including for the BBC, and then found employment with a PR company who’d been working on Arthur’s Day.
By that time Helen was a member of the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme.
“And I discovered that, for me, writing just happens. The ideas percolate in my mind, and when I sit down, it all takes shape.”
She worked on the debut over a few years, carving out time whenever she could. After five years in London, Helen met her partner, and the two of them moved to a cottage on a farm in Sligo for a year out.
“We were both freelancing, and I worked on the book. Then, back in London, I took a job with Google.”
Who is Helen Cullen
Date of birth: 1981, in Portlaoise.
Education: Brigidine Convent, Mountrath, then Scoil Chriost Ri. Dublin City University, Communications. University College Dublin, MA in Theatre Studies. Brunel University, halfway through a Part Time MA in Literature.
Family: Partner, Damian.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
In Another Life: “I’d love to be an actor.”
Favourite Writers: Donna Tartt; Ian McEwan; Michael Chabon; Niall Williams; Anne Enright.
Second Novel: “I’ve finished the first draft.”
Top Tip: “Get your first draft down, then revise.”
Website: www.helencullen.ie Twitter: @wordsofhelen
The Debut: Lost letters of William Woolf. Michael Joseph: €14.99 Kindle: €8.90
A failed writer, William Woolf loves his job as a letter detective – trying to unite lost letters with their recipients, but what if the string of love letters to ‘My Great Love’ are written for him? Where does that leave his, already floundering, marriage?
The Verdict: A heart-warming tale. William Woolf will capture reader’s hearts.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 1st September, 2018
© Sue Leonard. 2018