Helena wrote a lot as a small child, but at secondary school, she was discouraged because she wasn’t great at grammar or spelling. A teacher in fourth year changed all that.
“She saw through my spelling and loved my stories. She gave me so much encouragement.”
After college, Helena followed friends to Australia, and spent two years there.
“When I was in Melbourne, my sister gave me a notebook and suggested I sign up for a writing course. I did that for a week, and wrote my first, (unpublished,) children’s book about a shoe living in a rubbish dump.”
When she planned out her trilogy, set in a fictitious Kilkenny, she decided to self-publish and get sales, then look for a publisher.
“I sold 1,000 books in Kilkenny, and I sold a lot online.”
She signed with agent Josephine Hayes, and soon got her deal. She has since won a Crimefest Award, and a good few library awards; been shortlisted for a Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, A Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Award, and selected for the Tom Fletcher WH Smith Bookclub.
Throughout this time, Helena has worked as a graphic designer.
Who is Helena Duggan?
Date of birth: 1981, in Dunmore, outside Kilkenny.
Education: Loreto, Kilkenny; Dunlaoghaire Art College, Visual Arts, and, in final year, Interactive Media.
Family: Husband, Robbie; Jo Ellen 2 ½ and Bobbie Rose, 7 months.
The Day Job: “I’m balancing my time between graphic design and writing.”
In Another Life: “I’d be an Olympian, but I’ve never found the right sport.”
Second Series: “I have an idea for another children’s series. At the moment I’m planning it and drawing maps.”
Favourite Writers: Roald Dahl; JK Rowling; Terry Pratchett, for his children’s books; Neil Gaiman; Tim Burton.
Top Tip: “For children, I’d say, if you love writing stories, don’t let bad grammar and spelling put you off.”
Website: www.helddesign.ie Twitter: @heldideas
The Debut: The Battle for Perfect. (A Place Called Perfect, book 3.) Usborne: €9.45. Kindle: €3.56.
Violet and her friend Tom, learn that the town of Perfect is about to be taken over by a huge zombie army. Can they save themselves and their friends?
The Verdict: A simply gorgeous, meticulously plotted series that over nines will love.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 4th October, 2019.
© Sue Leonard. 2019.