Rachel: Welcome, Henri. Can you tell us about how this story came to be published?
Henri: I wrote the first draft a few years ago during the month of November, taking part in the international challenge National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where the aim is to write at least 50,000 words in one month. After I’d finished it I sent it to my writing buddy and started the first revision following her input. Then it went to the New Writers’ Scheme run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, received a good reader’s report, but there was still work to do on the manuscript so I revised it one more time before sending it to about six agents. None of them took it although two of them requested the whole manuscript.
Rachel: I’m so glad Choc Lit snapped you up! Jason’s POV gives the story a nice polish. How massive of an undertaking was a change of that scope?
Henri: The word count as it stood before the change had already reached 102,000, so I needed to cut huge sections out of Helen’s viewpoint in order to make room for Jason. This was a good thing because those sections suffered from serious overwriting (all those beautiful, flowery phrases straight out of Creative Writing 101 which serve no purpose for the story or the plot!). At the copy-editing stage I even went over those sections again and sharpened up the writing. I’m glad I did because the entire manuscript ended up being only slightly longer than the original 102,000 words.
Rachel: Trimming is tricky work! Any advice to writers struggling with the editing process?
Henri: I think you have to keep an open mind as a writer. One of the advantages of having an editor – and there are many – is that this is an extra pair of eyes, and sometimes it really helps to get an “outsider’s” view of the book, to see it as a reader may potentially see it. So I try not to be too precious.
Rachel: Which I thank and admire you for! When it comes to your method for writing and editing, are you a plotter or a pantser?
Henri: Definitely a plotter. I like to include a few twists and turns in my work, and this requires careful plotting if I’m going to avoid massive plot holes. I like to write detailed chapter-by-chapter summaries, colour-coding the settings for the various scenes, who’s in it, a few specific words of dialogue, and what will be revealed. When it comes to revisions, I also colour-code, using different highlighter pens for what needs to be inserted, deleted, expanded, or moved/merged etc.
Rachel: Colour-coding is a great tip! What are you working on now?
Henri: Right now I’m working on another romantic thriller, but my next book (my third to be published), which is already scheduled for publication in 2014, is a complete departure from anything I’ve written so far. It’s a swash-buckling historical tale set in the Georgian period, with highwaymen, a spirited heroine, and a mystery at its core.
Rachel: Thanks so much for stopping by Romance Refined for a chat. I’m so pleased to have worked with you on The Elephant Girl and can’t wait it see it soar up the charts.
Peek-a-boo I see you …
When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.
Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.
As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …
Published by Choc Lit and available internationally in paperback and various ebook formats.
Henriette grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from the University of Copenhagen. She wrote her first book when she was ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express. Between that first literary exploit and now, she has worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist.
Expecting her first child and feeling bored, she picked up the pen again, and when a writer friend encouraged her to join the Romantic Novelists' Association, she began to pursue her writing in earnest, winning the New Talent Award in 2011 from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize.
Henriette is married and lives in London.