Tell me about yourself. What inspired you to write?
I am a fantasy author from the south of England, living in the royal borough of Berkshire. I live with my cat Alfie and immerse myself in my wonderful worlds, of which I have quite a few now, though only one is currently published. I had ideas brewing for a book for many years, and I had been writing notes and ideas, very different from what I finally wrote, but that was the beginning.
My mum dying was my catalyst, and once she passed and my daughter flew the nest when she went to university, I suddenly had time and I started writing the Sentinal series and out came seven books. I wrote them over a period of two years between 2016-2018 and then I went back and started to edit them, and learning about the world of self-publishing and what that entailed. I published my first book, Sentinals Awaken in October 2020, and went on to publish three books in a year. Still not sure how I managed that!
Describe your desk / writing space.
I work from home, so my desk is associated with work. I tend to write, seated on the sofa, laptop on my lap, my cat Alfie asleep by my legs, just as I am now, answering your questions!
Do you have a writing routine or do you write when inspired?
I work full time, so usually writing has to fit around when I am not working, ie evenings and weekends. I have had to take time off work when I am in the throes of an idea though. Sometimes the muse just takes over and you can’t do anything else until you’ve written it.
What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
Hmm, hard question. I don’t know. I am rather a haphazard writer. I can write chapters in isolation as I have an idea and then fit it in later like a jigsaw puzzle. I usually write the beginning and the end first. I know where I’m starting and I know where I want to end, it’s the middle and how they get there that can be tortuous!
I often have to walk away and noodle on the plot, let the back brain figure out what the next piece is and then return to writing it, but once I start writing it just flows, until I get interrupted, usually my cat, Alfie demanding dinner!
What inspired your book/series?
I didn’t start writing until late in life, though I have had ideas bubbling, I never put pen to paper. I live near an ancient woodland, where there are trees that are hundreds of years old. I wished that they could speak, what tales they could tell! That planted the seed for the Sentinal series.
The Sentinal series is an epic fantasy series, and even though they are quite long books, I am told they are easy to read (Thank goodness!) and once you start reading them, they don’t seem as long. Jerrol Haven, a King’s Ranger discovers treason at the highest levels, but before he can do anything about it, he is attacked. He accidentally awakens a Lady’s Sentinal, not that he realises he has, after all, who expects a man to be sleeping in a tree for thousands of years? And so begins an adventure to discover who is trying to overthrow the king and take over the world.
Jerrol has to face many obstacles and challenges, not least to figure out how to wake the other Sentinals scattered across Remargaren.
Coffee or tea? Wine or beer?
Black coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and lots of wine in the evening!
Describe yourself in three words.
Voracious Fantasy Reader
Who is your favorite character from your book and would you get along?
Birlerion is my favourite character. He is the first Sentinal who Jerrol awakes. He is such a joy to write, because he has so many layers and so many secrets. I am definitely Team Sentinal and I would love to take him home!
When we first meet him, he is withdrawn and reserved, a silent assassin protecting the Captain. Compared to the happy go lucky Jennery, he seems quite dangerous and we question whether we can trust him. As the books evolve I think Birlerion has the most interesting character arc. This makes Sentinals Recovery even more exciting, as it really focuses on Birlerion. The first three books, Jerrol is the main character, so this is the first time we really get to meet him properly, and I think a lot of readers will go Ah! in enlightenment. (If they read the first three books!) Sentinals Recovery is a complete story, but you will appreciate it more if you read the first three books.
If you could live anywhere, in this world or fantasy, where would you live?
I would choose to live in the leafy Watches of Vespiri in my world of Remargaren, and visit Birtoli for a holiday. Birtoli is the setting for book four of the Sentinal series, and is an island archipelago, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. I would love to relax on a nice sandy beach with a cocktail or two. I will have to make sure they have a stock of them!
How do you come up with the title to your books?
It was actually one of my beta readers who suggested I use Sentinal in the title. And once I had the word Sentinal it was quite easy to Awaken them to begin with. The Second book, Sentinals Rising, was a nod to the Sentinals adjusting to the new world and the Ascendants upping their game to take over the world. The third book was the culmination of the opening trilogy and it made sense for it be Sentinals Justice.
What are you working on next?
I am currently preparing to release book 3.5, Sentinals Recovery, on December 2nd, 2021. Sentinals Recovery is a novella which follows straight after Sentinals Justice. I hadn’t planned on writing it, but I couldn’t fit the story into book three, it just wouldn’t physically fit, but it had to be written. This novella focuses in on Birlerion, and we learn more about him as he recovers from his near fatal injuries from the final confrontation in Book 3.
I’m editing book four of the Sentinal Series due out next year, and writing a brand new book in a new series. SoulBreather is book one of the SoulMist series, and is more of a paranormal romance, though there is plenty of worldbuilding and political intrigue. I signed up to the Realm of Darkness Anthology and I have to have SoulBreather written by August of next year, I am currently 60k words in so all is on track. This is the first time I have had an external deadline to hit, but all is going well, and I just got the first draft of the cover back, and it looks amazing. It is going to be so difficult to sit on it until next year!
What authors or books have influenced your writing?
I have loved reading all my life, my mother used read any genre going and she got me hooked on thrillers, mysteries, romances and then we discovered David Eddings’ Belgarion and Mallorean series and Anne McCaffrey’s world of Pern. I love Lois McMaster Bujold’s world of the five gods and her Sharing knife series, and she was definitely an influence on my writing, I think, as I try and inject a bit humour as she did and I absolutely love world building.
What is your favorite meal?
My favourite meal is a roast dinner. I love roast potatoes (well I love potatoes any which way), but a roast dinner is just so satisfying, and reminds me of family dinners, followed by apple crumble with custard, if I can fit it in!
About The Author
Helen Garraway lives in the UK and has been writing about the world of Remargaren, a fantasy world of her creation since 2016.
Sentinals Awaken was Helen’s debut fantasy novel published in 2020. The second installment, Sentinals Rising was published March 17th, 2021; Sentinals Justice which published September 7th, 2021 and Sentinals Recovery due December 2nd 2021.
An avid reader of many different fiction genres, a love she inherited from her mother, Helen writes fantasy novels and also enjoys paper crafting and scrapbooking as an escape from the pressure of working as a Product Manager.
Having graduated from the University of Southampton with a Degree in Politics and International Relations, she remains an active member of their alumni.
A Monstrous Light blurb
What do you do when the person who’s your whole word vanishes in a monstrous light?
You hunt him down, of course. Across continents, to the edge of the Waste, through death and deception all the way to the corpse of the creature who would have killed you both.
And when you find him? Well.
You do what you have to to keep him. Anything you have to. Even killing.