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Interview with Dystopian Thriller Author Helen Smith




Helen Smith is a member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain and English PEN. She traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant – before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz (part of the Hachette Group).

She is the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Her latest book is the dystopian thriller The Miracle Inspector.

Visit her website at

Friend her on Twitter: emperorsclothes

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Helen.  Can you start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Hello, thank you for inviting me here. I’m multi-published: I have had seven books published, including this one.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I was traditionally published by a mainstream publisher in the UK (Gollancz, part of the Hachette Group.) I chose that route because it was one of the few options available at the time, and the best of those options.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It was about a year, which is standard in mainstream publishing.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was really excited to be published. When my agent called me to tell me she had sold my book, she said, ‘Do you have any champagne at home?’ I did, as it happened – two bottles of very good champagne. So I celebrated by drinking that. I can’t remember exactly what I did on publication day but I think I must have gone out for dinner with friends and family.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I didn’t do anything. My publisher sent my books out to the newspaper critics and that was about it. I was very lucky as I had some excellent reviews in the national press.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I think you get better at the craft of writing the more you write, and I feel that each novel I have written has been better than the last. I’m not sure that it gets any easier, though.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Ereaders are amazing. It seems extraordinary to hold a whole library in your land – like something out of a Borges short story. I didn’t think I would enjoy switching from print books to an ereader but my eyesight is failing and I need reading glasses, so I love being able to read a book without wearing them. What is surprising about the publishing industry is that it is changing and adapting, but that books are still at the heart of everything: people are buying books and reading them, and that’s what’s important.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I have always loved reading. It’s wonderful to know that I’m now one of the people who writes the books that people read.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep going. You’ll get there.






1 Comment

  1. Helen Smith says:

    Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed answering the questions.

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