Thursday, June 9, 2011

Behind The Words // Darcia Helle

Hello to all and a huge thank you to Jason for inviting me to hang out here today.

You're probably wondering who I am and why you should care. Honestly, I often wonder that myself. Don't you hate it when someone says, "Tell me about yourself,"? What does that mean? My height, weight, age, hair color and eye color doesn't tell you much, aside from whether I take up two seat cushions on the couch and get a senior citizen discount. Things like how many times I brush my teeth each day and what my favorite color is might tell you something about me but none of it is particularly interesting. So, who am I?

I'm a word addict. Big words, small words, words that rhyme, words that sound pompous and words that sound eloquent. I love the power within all words. I'm passionate about some things, indifferent about others. Music has the ability to change my mood in a flash. I'm a vegetarian, a wife, a mother and a grandmother. I love water but I'm a terrible swimmer.

Does that tell you who I am? Scratching the surface. That's a start. As for why you should care, I'm the only one of me you'll ever meet. That has to count for something. 

I have six published books, all with some aspect of suspense. Their titles, in order from first to last: Enemies and Playmates, Hit List, No Justice, Beyond Salvation, Miami Snow, The Cutting Edge. I'm working on number seven, tentatively titled Into The Light.

Many authors I speak to have offices. Nice, neat private places where they go, sit down and create. I'd like to say I have that. In reality, my office/library used to be a den. It's a long, fairly narrow room across the back of my house. It's open to the kitchen and the living room. No interior doors. We bought the house because I loved the open floor plan. Now I wish we'd bought one with a sealed vault. 

I do most of my writing on my laptop, in whichever room or outdoor space I feel like occupying. The laptop allows me to get comfortable, change my scenery. Plus, it's free of distractions like Facebook and iTunes. I need silence to write. Music is a major distraction. I start singing (horribly) along with the lyrics and my dogs bark at me (yes, I sound that bad). The song's story absorbs me and I forget my own. So silence is a necessity. Hence, the need for a sealed vault.

Life is my general research. People are an endless resource. I read a lot of nonfiction, mainly sociology and culture-related topics, which sparks ideas and supplies plentiful amounts of information. The suspense I write is not police procedural or forensic science, those things that require in-depth research and box the writer into specifics. Cops can't break into buildings to find out if someone is guilty. DNA results take months, not hours. Those sorts of restrictions irritate my characters. They have agendas of their own. I only follow along, acting as their stenographer. 

I never outline. The story unfolds for me like the mystery it's meant to be. Characters wander freely in and out of my mind. They lead me where they are meant to go, dig their feet into the ground like stubborn children when I think my ideas are better than theirs. I see them dancing in the shadowy cobwebs, in that space once used for memorizing all the state capitals. Why waste storage space on the capital of Wyoming? That's what Google is for.

My family thinks I'm a little crazy, which is probably accurate. My Dad thinks that my husband should sleep with one eye open. I laugh at that. All my killing, as gruesome as my characters decide to make it, is done on paper. Something else about me: I'm a ridiculous peacenik. 

So there you have it. Who I am is a fluid thing. We all evolve. In the end, who I am doesn't matter nearly as much as what I leave behind. 

You can learn even more useless facts about me and take a look at my books on my website:

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Darcia, you had me at 'word addict'. My attention was yours during this guest post and you pulled me along for the duration of your stay here -- just as you do the countless readers of your fiction. Thank you for being with us here at the Reaches and for sharing this look into how you write. I love that you sing to the dogs!


  1. Darcia, you forgot to mention you're also a mentor and ally to the rest of us who are crazy enough to be self-published authors! Thanks for all you do through Bestsellerbound and elsewhere online! <>Marty Beaudet

  2. Jason, thank you for sharing your space with me and allowing me to be myself. (In all my full color craziness!) I'm not sure that my dogs enjoy when I sing to them. But they do love it when I read to them! :)

  3. Marty, you're too kind. I am incredibly fortunate to have made such great friends in this otherwise solitary and often ego-busting business of writing.

  4. Marty, thanks for dropping by -- your words about Darcia are spot-on.

    Darcia, you know that it's my pleasure to host you here. Your comment about ego-busting is apt. I find it's better to completely throw any ego out the window. It's harder for anyone to bust it then! (And it won't hold you back either!)

  5. Something that I just discovered while perusing Darcia Helle's website.

    Free downloads!

    She has a pile of free stories and writing for readers to enjoy. So if you want to learn more about Darcia, a good first tactic would be to learn about her through her writing:

  6. Thank you for passing on the info on my free downloads, Jason! And I agree about tossing the ego out the window. Who needs one, anyway? Most of the time it's nothing more than a cumbersome hindrance.

  7. Yup, ego. As useless as a lead weight on a life raft. Same phenomen as worrying and holding grudges.

  8. J and Darcia, are you Buddhists? They're not big on ego either, and I concur it has no place in writing. Getting wrapped up in oneself and one's creations can certainly build up the ego, but it's best to knock it down.

    Darcia, I will definitely check out your free downloads, and like you, I love the water (that's why I visit J often), and I'm also a terrible swimmer! Love your line about who you are as being a "fluid thing." See? More water references!

    Great to find out more about you,


  9. I certainly see the value in how buddhists view some things, Eden, but no I don't suppose I'm disciplined enough to be one.

    It's clear to me that most thinking people are fluid; they change and adapt and adjust their view of the world. Darwin would argue that they simply have to.

  10. Eden, thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoy the free downloads. :)

    Buddhists do have many admirable qualities but, like you Jason, I am far from disciplined enough. Self-discipline has never been my strongest quality!

  11. I really enjoyed this guest post, you had me laughing about singing in front of your dogs and your dad saying that your husband should sleep with one eye open LOL. I'm reading Hit List at the moment and I'm starting to think your dad might have a point :) (only kidding).
    I would recommend Darcia's books to everyone, she has a real gift for writing suspense.

  12. Darcia is a friend.
    To many, many people.
    Her words are sometimes hugs.

  13. Maria, Hit List is probably the most twisted book I've written. Blame that on a tumultuous period in my life!

    Joel, thank you for those kind words. :)


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