Darcia Helle writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.
Time to chat with Darcia!
What is your latest book?
On June 1st of this year, I published Killing Instinct: A Michael Sykora Novel. This is the third book in the series. No Justice is book #1 and Beyond Salvation is book #2.
I love to explore the darker side of life, and Killing Instinct is one of my darkest. The plot involves obsession, revenge, a bit of madness, and a love story, though not in the traditional romantic sense.
What else have you written?
I have 10 published books, including the three in my Michael Sykora Series. My other titles are:
Enemies and Playmates
The Cutting Edge
Into The Light
Quiet Fury: An Anthology of Suspense
All of my writing falls somewhere within the suspense genre. Enemies and Playmates is my first and leans heavily into romantic suspense. Hit List is more psychological suspense. The Cutting Edge is dark humor suspense, if that’s even a genre. It’s also the only book I’ve written in first person. Into The Light is my only book (so far) with a paranormal aspect.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I love writing the first few scenes. This is the period when I’m discovering the characters and their stories.
I get very cranky when I reach the final edit, before sending the book off to my editor. By then, I’ve lived and breathed the story to excess. I’m tired of my own words, tired of the routine and drudgery.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I usually fall somewhere between these two parameters. A normal routine for me is, when I sit down to write, I first reread the scenes I wrote during my previous session. This helps me get into the mindset of the characters and the mood of the story. In the process, I do some minor editing. Occasionally, I find myself completely rewriting scenes or even tossing them out. Typically, though, I finish writing the entire book before doing any major edits.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
A lot of my research is done before I even know what I need or why. I read a lot of nonfiction books on sociology; studies in human behavior, how the mind works, true crime, etc. I also read a lot of random articles, such as research studies on criminal recidivism, the effects of isolation in prison, and assorted, obscure tidbits of information. When I come across something of particular interest, I file it away for reference.
Both of these factors came into play with Killing Instinct. I’d read an article on the Internet underground and knew immediately that Michael Sykora, my main character in this series, had to explore this vast part of cyberspace unknown to most of us. During the writing process, I was also reading an early review copy of The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine. A big part of this book’s content involves looking at and understanding the fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of sociopaths. This helped me give a realistic feel to the protagonist’s character, and also sparked the idea for something that happens to shape the man he becomes.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I was definitely born to write. I’m pretty sure I’d require a padded cell if I was forced to stop.
I wrote my first story in kindergarten. Over summer breaks from school, I’d create word search puzzles, each with a specific theme. I loved doing phonics workbooks, and was probably the only 10 year old in my town who got excited about conjugating verbs. During my teen years, I wrote a lot of dark poetry. Even back then, I preferred the dark side.
When I wasn’t writing, I was creating stories in my mind. I’d lie awake half the night with a story playing out. When those stories became so invasive that I could no longer sleep, I sat down and wrote a scene. Then I wrote another. Soon I had my first novel
Writing is not something I decided to do one day; it’s an inherent part of who I am.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?
I despise mornings. My brain cells don’t talk to each other before 9 a.m., and even then they’re not happy about being called upon. Creativity is impossible before noon.
When my sons were young, I did all my writing late at night. Sometimes I’d be up until four in the morning writing, despite having to be up at 6:30 to get the kids off to school and myself off to work. Now that my sons are grown and I no longer have a day job, I do most of my writing in the afternoon when the house is quiet. Once my husband gets home from work, there is noise and various distractions. I don’t do well with noise and distractions when I’m trying to write. My dream home will have a soundproof room.
My must have is silence. White noise doesn’t bother me. The dogs can bark, providing they aren’t barking at someone pounding on my door. But, to write, I need to immerse myself in the characters and their story. Voices take me out of the moment, whether they belong to a person in the house with me or are coming from the TV. (Or my loud neighbors.) And, as much as I love music, it’s far too distracting. I find myself singing the lyrics. Even music without lyrics seeps into my being and alters my mood.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
Cover design can be crucial, since it’s often the first thing a person sees. The cover design reflects the genre, the content, and, more importantly, either entices readers or gives them a subliminal cue to move along.
I’ve personally passed on countless books based solely on the cover. For instance, I don’t like Harlequin romances. No offense intended to the authors or the readers; I simply don’t like formulaic romance novels. Certain covers give me the immediate impression of this sort of novel, and I won’t even stop to read the description. Other times, I see an obviously amateur cover, sometimes almost cartoonish, and again I won’t bother to look further. I could be missing out on many books I’d enjoy, but the cover design acts like a flashing caution sign telling me to avoid the story ahead.
We can never know what appeals to any one person. The best I can hope for is that my covers manage to reflect the story within and capture the attention of the majority of readers looking for the kind of books I write.
Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?
This question made me laugh. I have absolutely no control over my characters. They are in full control from the time they pop into my head, which tends to happen spontaneously and sometimes at inopportune moments.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?
My favorite comfort food is ice cream. In fact, I’m a bit of an ice cream snob. I prefer organic, such as Stoneyfield Farms. Cold Stone Creamery is absolutely addictive. I like Ben & Jerry’s, partly because they don’t use hormones on their cows and also because it’s creamy and tastes really good. I’m not a big fan of the typical grocery store brands, such as Breyers. The flavor is a little generic and it’s not creamy enough. The one oddity in my ice cream snobbery is that I could probably overdose on Dairy Queen.
My least favorite food is, without a doubt, peanut butter. The smell alone makes my stomach quiver.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I love to write from the POV of a deranged killer, but I’m a total, unapologetic peacenik.
What makes you angry?
I’d need to write an entire book to answer this question. On second thought, I’d probably need to write a series of books!
Some things that anger me: lack of respect, animal abuse, child abuse, narrow-mindedness, insurance companies, greed, and the hackers who hijacked my website for use in a bank scam.
What music soothes your soul?
Almost all music soothes me. I have an eclectic, obsessive, out-of-control collection. Certain styles of music work better to soothe me, depending on the situation and my mood. Overall, there is nothing like a blues guitar to make my spirit vibrate. A few chords is all it takes for the music to creep under my skin and touch me to the core.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
My dogs make me smile, even on my worst days.
CONNECT WITH DARCIA