Helen Vivienne Fletcher discovered her passion for writing for young people while working as a youth support worker, and now helps children find their own passion for storytelling through her creative writing classes business, Brain Bunny Workshop. She is the author of several children’s and young adult books, including Broken Silence, which was a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Best First Book Award. She has also had success with writing spoken word poetry, short stories and plays, and was named Outstanding New Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards for her play, How to Catch a Grim Reaper. She lives in Wellington with her disability assistance dog, Bindi – a five-year-old, playful Labrador who loves soft toys, cuddles, and can fit three tennis balls in her mouth at once. You can find more about Helen (and Bindi) at www.helenvfletcher.com
1. Tell us about your recent spec fic publications/projects?
My most recent project is a novella called Reactive, a darkly magical tale about a group of teenagers facing danger from their teachers, other students, and even their own magic. This was a story that came from a dream I had years ago, and had stayed in the back of my mind all that time.
It was originally published in an international anthology called Realms of Magic: A Spellcasters Short Story Collection. The rights for the stories reverted during the lockdown, so I decided it would be a good time to publish it as a standalone. Working on the cover, and all the other elements for publication was a great distraction, and it was so nice to see it all come together. I’m working on a few other projects at the moment, but I plan to continue the story from Reactive in a series very soon.
2. What has been the best publishing or SF community experience of your career so far?
I’ve always been someone who disliked the stress of group projects, but I’ve been finding collaborations in the spec fic community are surprisingly enjoyable and inspiring! I’ve worked on a few anthologies – Realms of Magic, Blood From A Stone, and Cirque de vol Mystique, which my dark, circus-themed novella We All Fall was originally published in, and I’m currently involved in another collaborative project, which will be announced later.
These projects have been a great experience for a number of reasons – the accountability of having a deadline, the cheerleading and moral support from other writers, the skill-sharing and sense of community. It’s been so inspiring to see how writers in these groups build each other up, and challenge each other, while working together to create amazing stories.
3. Which recent Australian/NZ work would you recommend to international fans interested in expanding their Antipodean spec fic knowledge?
One of my favourite recent spec fic books would be Andi C. Buchanan’s From a Shadow Grave. Andi creates three imagined lives for Phyllis Symons, a real young woman who was tragically murdered and left in the Mt Victoria tunnel construction site in 1931. I’d recommend this one to international fans, not only because the three stories are beautifully written, but also because Andi has done a fantastic job of weaving together the true history, the fantasy, and creating a sense of Wellington (and New Zealand) past and present.