Helen Scheuerer is a creative writer and novelist based in Sydney, Australia. She has completed multiple degrees, her debut novel is due to be published later this year, she’s the founder of a small press and is generally pretty amazing. She tell’s us all about it below!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
Sure thing! I’m a novelist, editor and publisher from Sydney. I run the online magazine and small press, Writer’s Edit, which publishes writing advice online and the annual creative writing anthology Kindling in print.
As for my own writing, I’ve still got the first ‘book’ I ever wrote – an exercise book complete with hand-drawn pictures and scribbles about a clown and kitten who ran away from the circus. I’d like to think my writing has developed a little since then…
Nowadays I write novels, and have been experimenting with which genre (or genres) I want to establish myself in. I started out writing literary fiction, but over the last year or so have very much fallen back in love with fantasy books. I figure I should probably be writing what I love reading… It’s been an adventure re-discovering the genre again!
I love fast-paced plots and passionate, reckless characters, and these elements hopefully come through in my writing.
- You always have a lot going on, between Writer’s Edit and your own projects, how do you manage your time and keep sane?
Recently I took a massive risk and finished up at my regular ‘day job’ as an editor in order to go freelance and free up my time for Writer’s Edit and my fiction writing. Because of taking this chance, I’m lucky enough that (at the moment) I’ve got more time than the average writer to manage multiple projects.
That’s not to say it’s easy! Currently I’m juggling managing the Writer’s Edit website and team, the production of our third book, Kindling Volume III, editing my debut novel with my publisher, and working with beta readers on the edits of my second book – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Personally, I’ve always thrived on routine and keeping to a strict work schedule. I work really well with to-do lists and self-set deadlines. I like to think I’m quite disciplined, and that’s how I’ve managed to stay sane these past few months.
- What is your favourite and least favourite thing about being a writer in Sydney?
For me Sydney is great because it’s basically the middle point for the Writer’s Edit team – we’ve got people based in Wollongong and Newcastle, so Sydney is a great place for us to meet in the middle. It offers so many funky cafes and bars where we can hold our meetings and catch up.
As for my least favourite thing? Sydney is a super expensive city to live in, let alone live in as a writer. Especially since going freelance, it’s definitely been a struggle to stay on top of everything financially, and still earn enough money to enjoy what the city has to offer.
- What’s coming up next for you and Writer’s Edit? Any new projects on the go?
Ahhhh definitely! There’s lots coming up. We’ve just about finished proofreading the third and final volume of our creative writing anthology Kindling. That’s due to go to press soon for a launch in November.
We’ve just released our very first ebook: Traditional vs Self-Publishing: Which Is Right For You? which helps authors decide which publishing route to take when they’ve finished a manuscript.
Something I’m super excited about is our recently launched premium membership service on Writer’s Edit. So far offers 6 writing/publishing courses, a directory of publishers and a jobs board, with more courses and features to come.
As for my own writing – I’m working on my debut novel at the moment with my publisher, but have also started something new…
With my newly re-discovered love of fantasy, I’ve started my own series, which beta readers are reviewing as I write this – it’s a very scary, but exciting time!
- Who or what have been your biggest influencers as a writer? How have they impacted you?
When I was doing my creative writing degree, we were encouraged to seek inspiration from the more ‘literary’ writers – I found myself drawn to the work of Cormac McCarthy, Damon Galgut, Emma Donoghue and Meg Wolitzer. Back then, these writers very much influenced my earlier writing style.
Although my creative writing degree was incredibly worthwhile, it was also rather limiting in terms of experimenting with genre. There’s definitely an element of ‘snobbery’ when it comes to genre fiction, and that certainly influenced what I was reading and writing at the time.
However, since then I’ve learnt a lot more about myself as a reader and a writer. Life’s too short to not read what you love, and you should be writing what you love to read. Which is why in recent years, I’ve fallen back in love with fantasy, YA and NA books.
In the past year, I’ve found female fantasy writers like Sarah J. Maas, Marie Rutkoski, C.S. Pascat and others to be incredibly inspiring not only for their page-turning plots and original characters, but for the way they and their publishing houses have honed their brands. That’s something I hope I’ll be able to achieve one day.
- How does your editing and publishing experience affect your writing? Is it a help or a hindrance?
It’s probably a little of both to be honest. My editing and publishing experience have definitely helped me edit my own work more effectively – I can identify the various stages of editing a manuscript needs to go through, and work with beta readers to determine what devices are working and which ones aren’t, for example.
On the other hand, sometimes it makes me overly critical. As the saying goes, ‘you’re your own worst critic’, and that’s definitely true with additional publishing/editing experience behind me. I’m constantly analysing and trying to build on what I’ve got. It can feel like a never-ending process, and it’s hard to know when to stop.
- When things are getting you down what do you do to cheer yourself up?
This is a great question, and perhaps is something we don’t talk often enough about. Being a writer can be lonely, and at times incredibly challenging – trying to fit your writing around a day job, dealing with rejections from publishers, not to mention the financial struggles. Usually when I’m feeling down about any of these things, I chat to my writer friends. I’m lucky enough to have made some life-long friends through Writer’s Edit, and I can always count on these wonderful people to lift me up when I’m feeling let down or burnt out.
After I’ve had a rant, I’ll usually go for a walk to clear my head and listen to some dance tunes – we often forget how important exercise is for mental health, even if it’s just a quick walk around the local park.