Interview: Helen Kreeger

Helen Kreeger was born and raised in London, where she worked as a registered nurse and earned a degree in sociology from the London School of Economics. She has been living in Israel for twenty-three years. She and her husband have three sabra children, assorted animals and full-time jobs. Helen has been published in Blunt Moms (USA), and ARC 25 (Israel), as well as being a runner-up in Striking 13.

Congratulations on winning our October contest with “A Lie In”. What was the inspiration for this story?

Originally the story was about a woman from a mining community who was feeling a bit panicked by the idea of her husband’s impending retirement. The 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster in which 116 children and many adults died, was all over the UK news while I was editing my story and I quite suddenly felt I shouldn’t let it pass without comment. I didn’t want to write about the tragedy itself – I suppose I didn’t feel I was up to doing it justice – and so I put some distance between it and my characters, in time and place.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I daydream about that ‘typical’ writing day often. Up early, four hours of serious prose, lunch, an afternoon nap, back for the editing … In reality, like most writers, my writing has to be fitted in around my money-earning job.

There are days when I feel inspired (although on re-reading it’s often more like mania), and I write for hours at a stretch. But most of the time I need a bit of bullying. I belong to a group of writers who meet fortnightly to critique each others’ work. It’s too embarrassing not to turn something in so I do my best to spend at least a small part of every day either writing or editing.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?

No outline or plot. Just ideas that percolate as I’m peeling the spuds or hanging out the laundry. Once I start typing I think I know where the story is going, but oddly enough that’s hardly ever the case. I like to think of this as my writer’s brain doing its stuff, but I suspect it’s just the result of an undisciplined mind.

What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes by Angus Wilson

Thérèse by François Mauriac

HMS Surprise by Patrick O’Brian

Great House by Nicole Krauss

Interview: Helen Kreeger