H. C. Helfand: How a Global Pandemic Became the Impetus to Publish A Novel (& Never Look Back)!
Lawyer. Essayist. Children's writer. Dreamer. Woman who sees what lies beneath. H.C. Helfand is the insightful author of Fee Simple Conditional (Arcadia Chronicles Book 1) and my esteemed guest on Artists Helping Artists.
Meet H.C. Helfand:
Helfand's work in both the United States and Canada has fostered a love and respect for land, memory, and human yearning. Her debut novel, Fee Simple Conditional, is a story of abandonment and lost hope, and the magic that can rekindle purpose and belonging. Click the link below to purchase your copy of FSC today.
When I asked H.C. Helfand why she became a writer, she responded,
I’ve always loved writing and have created stories, poetry, and songs since I was a child.
Clearly, writing is in Helfand's bones (so-to-speak)! Even more curious is how she started writing Fee Simple Conditional over twenty years ago! I could relate to this experience, as I also began writing my debut before putting it aside for many years. When asked why she didn't continue with it previously, Helfand said,
When I started another job, I put it aside. Years later, I retrieved it and, aided by the work lull of the pandemic, completed it. It felt like a now or never effort and I wanted to make sre that, if something happened to me, I would not leave it unfinished. Now, bitten with the author bug, I’m fully pursuing a writing career.
I was seriously impressed with this. For many of us, the pandemic inhibited our creative spark, but for Helfand, it became the existential push to flourish in new and exciting ways.
Since the completion of FSC was such a momentous achievement, I wondered if Helfand had a favourite character from her story.
Although he does not appear until almost the end of FSC, I am fascinated by the character of David Armacost. So much so that I decided to continue the story in future volumes to better develop him. He will remain instrumental in the series as it goes forward.
Talk about mysterious! We'll all have to purchase a copy of this book to discover more about David Armacost!
David is not the only intriguing person in Helfand's series. She divulged that in the second book (currently a Work in Progress), entitled Clear and Convincing Evidence,
Abby Fischer becomes entangled in a legal morass that threatens her career and her family. It involves a patient who was committed to a psychiatric hospital and a desperate request that Abby feels she must fulfill.
If you're desperate to discover what happens to Abby and her family, your suspense gauge is about to hit the sky when you learn that Helfand is also writing a third book in the series (The Right of Redemption)! Not only that, but Helfand
also started a standalone novel that explores the issues of class in a small town and its effect on individuals and their relationships.
The connection of the characters in Helfand's work to land and legacy made me wonder how this thread found its way into her writing. I discovered that not only was Abby a "title abstractor", but so was the author! I had a hunch about what the job of a "title abstractor" entails, but Helfand filled in some gaps for me:
Records concerning the ownership of land are kept in local courthouses and have been for centuries. When a piece of property is sold, in order to guarantee that the purported seller actually owns the property, people are employed to search through the land records to determine the history of the ownership of the land. The people who do this are called "title abstractors." Their job is to comb through the records, make notations (abstracts) of the history of the ownership of the land, and certify who has actual title, or the right to possess the property. Many land transactions, particularly those that involve loans taken out with the land as collateral, such as mortgages, cannot be consummated without a certification of "clear title." This would mean that the purported owner legally owns the property and it can be sold wlegal or financial impediments.
I never realized how important a title abstractor was for a community and a culture. Many of these patient and fastidious folk
were drawn to the work because it can be solitary and intellectually stimulating. It often attracts people who march to the beat of a different drummer and who would prefer to work unsupervised. Of course, not all title abstractors are eccentric, but many are, and over the years, I was able to store memories, stories, and quirky characters away for the future.
Helfand is not only inspired by these dedicated professionals, but
Writers I admire, readers who enjoy my work, and without question, my characters. They have become such an enormous part of my world. They cheer me when I’m down and offer hours and hours of entertainment. We are a team.
It sounds like inspiration abounds in the life of this author.
My legal career, which has taken me to prisons, psychiatric facilities, and social service venues filled with people desperately seeking help, feeds much of my work. I’ve met so many worthy individuals whose stories may never be told, and just maybe, I can create something that enables them to be heard.
Books really are a form of magic that connect our experiences, memories, and dreams with our readers. Under this microscope, writing sounds rather glamorous. I asked Helfand if there was a misconception about this work that she would like to dispel:
That all writers pursue their craft in the same way. Everyone has a distinct style and set of habits. Some write on a schedule every day, others when inspired. Of course, the most disciplined may achieve more success, but writing makes one a writer, not the income derived from the pursuit. Not that it doesn’t help!
This is especially important for new writers to understand so they can avoid the pressure to put themselves and their craft into a box of the industry's making. Helfand has one more piece of advice for her writing friends:
As trite as it might sound, don’t give up! If you have a story in you and want to share it with the world, don’t let anyone stop you. It is your gift. Once you’ve created it, you can refine, edit, and perfect it as best you can. But don’t let criticism or indifference from others kill your dream.
I couldn't agree more!
I hope you've enjoyed my author interview with the talented H.C. Helfand. Be sure to check out the first book in her series, Fee Simple Conditional, and leave a review when you're done.
You can also find H.C. on social media.
Check out her author website for updates on her works in progress.