Remembering Hell, the sequel to 'Awake in Hell" by Helen Downing is the latest book by this amazing author and she's talking with us today about it.
Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
My name is Helen Downing and I am a wife and mother. I have two wonderful children and my husband Larry is amazing. I also have a large and very tight knit family and a wonderful circle of friends. So, I am the richest person you’ve ever met. J
Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time? I’ve heard of this, but I’ve never actually experienced the phenomenon of “spare time”...LOL. I do however like to read books (not just write them) and I am a tv junkie.
Where do you get your ideas from?
From a guy who lives down the street from me. He’s got tons of them. JUST KIDDING!! I’m a kidder!! Actually, I have no idea where some of my ideas come from. Some folks would say it’s mental disease run amok. I say it’s brilliant imagination!
Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, which would be your favorite and why?
That is like asking me which kid I love the most! Not that I don’t have a favorite, I just will never admit it out loud. This applies to the kids AND my books. J
Does any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination?
Of course there are some things that are biographical, Some things that are pure fiction, and a few things that are wishful thinking. All of those ingredients are necessary to create beautifully flawed and approachable characters. At least, for me.
What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing?
I would love to be a fabulous self-help author, who can then hit the road with my motivational speaking tour. Unfortunately, I first have to help myself (hence the genre) so I have to put that dream on hold...for now.
Who are your favorite authors that are out now?
Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, Michael Faber- I love writers who are able to create quirky and unique worlds and characters
Who are your favorite female and male characters from your books and why?
Louise Patterson is obvious because she is the most like me, and because she finds redemption over and over again. Deedy because..well, he’s just awesome. Read the book. Ask Around. He’s DA BOMB!
What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Finding the time to devote to your craft. A lot of us are still not in a place where we can make our living writing...so we must do the day job, and still take care of our families, and still sleep every once in a while. Doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to WRITE.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer?
To ignore my answer to the previous question and WRITE WRITE WRITE. Write something every single day. Even if it’s a sentence or a paragraph or a few words to get you over the next bridge...write every day.
Well now that we got the question and answer out of the way…..why don’t you tell us about your latest story you have out now?
Remembering Hell is a sequel to my novel Awake In Hell.
Now a long-term resident of Heaven, Louise finds a need to return to the one place she thought she had left behind forever – HELL. Back in Central City Hades, she meets Joe who needs a guardian angel. Louise also meets a tall, dark and handsome stranger who just may change her afterlife. In this compelling sequel to 'Awake In Hell', you are invited to return to the land of the damned with Louise as she learns a whole new set of lessons about how to live a good life, even after you’re dead.
Here’s an excerpt:
As I start down the long trip back to the street and down the few blocks to the agency, I think about Gabby. Gabby is short for Gabrielle, and she is an archangel. Yeah, the one you’re thinking of. Don’t worry, I thought it was a man too. Anyway, Gabby as part of the “top dogs” of the Angelic hierarchy comes complete with glorious wings and a set of superpowers that would make Stan Lee jealous enough to cry. One of those superpowers is that she can read minds. Well, kind of. What I’ve learned over the years is that she can’t exactly read minds. It is more like she can hear what is in your heart or soul or whatever. Of course, a lot of times, it seems that she is answering a question that you have just formulated in your mind, hence the mind reader rap.
But have you ever noticed that a lot of questions that we as humans think about are actually things we’ve been aware of on some level for a very long time? I heard once that slot machines in casinos are constantly putting together combinations. The second you put in a coin and pull the lever, it lands on whatever combination the machine had already decided on at that very second. Our inner voice speaks to us all the time too, and it is only when we land on a particular thought that it is able to enter our minds, where we can process it. Gabby can tell you that your soul is going to come up with three cherries or two lemons and an orange, so to speak. At any rate, she’s totally brilliant. I vacillate between being completely in love with her and being outrageously envious of her at the same time.
However, as I walk into the agency and see the way Gabby is looking at me, I realize I am also quite frightened of her. Her face is filled with something not quite angry, but there is a fire within her eyes that alludes to angelic fury. Now before you start thinking that angelic fury is on par with angry puppies or spitting mad adorable babies, let me remind you that angelic fury was once responsible for things like killing the first born of entire countries and shit like that. When Gabby gets mad, or to better describe it, righteously infuriated, particularly on Deedy’s behalf, then she gets scary. And not like when you were a kid and your mom said “Wait until your father gets home!” kind of scary. I’m talking Chuck Norris would shit his pants kind of scary. So a ticked off angel is not on the top ten “must see” list in the hereafter. And while I’ve never actually seen Gabby’s wrath, I have heard enough stories to know I don’t want to. Ever.
“Okay, I know you’re pissed off at me right now. But no smiting me or anything,” I say with a false bravado and accompany it with a nervous giggle. I walk past her to the coffee pot. “May I have a cup of your wonderful coffee?” I’m trying to sound way more nonchalant than I actually feel.
“I’m not angry, Lou. And of course, but please let me get it. Whenever you get near my coffee you always make a huge mess,” she says with genuine laughter. Thankfully, she’s in a good mood.
I laugh along with her. “When I was living, Bobby used to call my sugar packets and dirty spoons Weasel Scat.” When I was in Hell, I couldn’t even remember Bobby. It took years and a little of Deedy’s magic before I remembered I had shared my life with a wonderful man. A wonderful man who called me Weasel, but still a great guy. Now, of course he is here, in Heaven. Along with his wife, a wonderful woman named Sue Ann who he married a few years after I died. The two of them raised my daughter, Dinny. Dinny was a nickname too. Bobby loved nicknames. Her actual name was Linda, after my best friend in the whole world.
Thinking about Linda snaps me back into the present, and I decide I am willing to push the edge of the envelope with Gabby. “You know why I’m here, Gabby. I need to talk to the boss.” I decide that perhaps being a bit more respectful might be required here, so I quickly add, “If that’s okay?”
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