Interview with Helena Harper

What made you become a writer?

I've always loved writing. Even before I went to school and learned how to write, I sat at a desk and wrote line after squiggly line on blank sheets of paper. The first story I remember writing was a story about pots and pans and other kitchen appliances who were having a competition to see who could be the cleanest. I really enjoyed writing that story.

What genre do you write?
I write poetry for adults as well as picture books and early readers.

What's the hardest thing about writing poetry?

Revising it once you've written it! The initial writing is wonderful - I find it totally absorbing and very enjoyable. But the refining and polishing afterwards is hard work.

What inspired your first book 'It's a Teacher's Life...!'?

Well, I've been a teacher for 20 years and about three years ago, when I was having a lovely holiday at a beautiful place in the country, I was inspired to write some poetry, and when I came home, I then had the idea to write some more poems about my life as a teacher. Each poem would concentrate on a different aspect of school life, such as the lessons, what went on in the staffroom, school trips, exams, report writing, and so on. I also wanted to pay tribute to some of the support staff who do so much to keep a school running, but are often forgotten about e.g. the cook, the caretaker/janitor, the nurse, the school secretary – the unsung heroes of life is what I call them.

Your second book 'Family and More - Enemies or Friends?' was also released in 2008. What made you release both books so close together?

My second book was released as an ebook and I really just wanted to test the market to see how people would react to it. I've had a very positive response from everyone who's read it so far, so I'm now looking into the possibility of having it published as a paperback.

Who is your publisher and what made you choose them?
I decided to finance the publication of both books so that I could start to get my name out there as a writer. I chose Athena Press as the publisher of my first book "It's a Teacher's Life...!" because they seemed to have a very professional approach to the whole business of publishing. The manuscript underwent a very rigorous edit and they designed a wonderful front cover for the book and also, at my request, provided illustrations for the interior. I chose Eloquent Books as the publisher for my ebook as there was the possibility later of converting the ebook, which has an ISBN number, into a paperback.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

My author's website is

My authorsden website is

My blog is

You can follow me on Twitter at

I'm also on Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn - here are the links:

Anything else you would like to add?
Yes - if you want to write, just give it a go! You have to be willing to step into the unknown, but if you don't try, you'll never know and you may end up regretting that. All you need is an idea. It doesn't have to be fully developed, just sit down and start writing something and it will develop as you go along. You never know, it may be the best thing you ever do!


  1. Thank you, Jo, so much for hosting me today on your blog - I really appreciate it.

    It occurred to me that readers may want to know what kind of poetry I write. My poetry is written in free verse (if anyone wants to find out more about free verse, I recommend this link and my published poems are really anecdotes or character sketches in verse form. My aim with my poetry is to write in an easily accessible way - I want my readers to easily understand the message I'm trying to convey.

    I also just wanted to say that my second book "Family and More - Enemies or Friends?" (which a fellow author has called 'an amazing cross between memoir and poetry') will be coming out as a paperback in the next few months, although a UK publisher will be doing it rather than an American one. I chose a UK publisher in the end because the paperback is going to have photos in it (which the ebook doesn't), as well as an extra poem, and I wanted to be able to discuss layout etc. face to face with an actual person and I can now do that!

    If anyone wants to read some of my poems, there are extensive extracts from both my books on my website and my authors den website.

    Thank you again, Jo.


  2. Hi Jo,

    I enjoyed your interview with Helena Harper and am looking forward to reading her book, "Family and More - Enemies or Friends?". I found the publishing information particularly interesting. She's a lovely lady and I wish her and you, much continued success!

    Best wishes,

  3. Enjoyed the interview and post very much. 20 years as a teacher certainly provides a wealth of experience from which to draw on to write a book! As Stephen King says, "Write what you know."

    The Old Silly

  4. I love poetry. Thanks, Jo, for introducing me to Helena's work.

  5. One of my online friends has just asked me where the place in the country was that inspired me to start writing poetry, so I thought I'd post a comment about that. It's called St. Cuthman's and it's near Horsham in West Sussex. It's a retreat but its non-denominational. People go there just to be quiet and have some time to themselves, although there is a chapel if you want to go to it. You stay in a lovely old house, the food is wonderful, there's a reading room/library that has a great atmosphere and there's a lake in the very large grounds. I felt at home there from the moment I walked in through the door and, at the end of my first visit, I was inspired to write a kind of poem I had never ever written before - I called it 'The Gift', referring to the gift that the place gives you to 'find yourself' again and to think about what you really want to do with your life. It was that poem that really started me off writing poetry. It's amazing what having some time to yourself can do!


  6. I also just wanted to thank Christine, Marlin and Joylene for taking time out of their busy day to stop by and leave a comment. It's much appreciated!


  7. A wonderful interview. I enjoyed hearing about your books, Helena. I am a former teacher and always love to hear about other teachers. Best of luck with your work.


  8. Hi Helena,

    Great interview! You have a wealth of information to bring to your readers very much like you have done teaching in the classroom.
    I hope the best for you, my friend!
    JD Holiday

  9. Thank you, Beverly, for your comment and your wishes. I love to meet other teachers and hear about their work as well - I've always found my fellow teachers to be very talented, generous and inspirational people, it's one of the joys of being part of the profession!

    Thank you, Jan, for stopping by. I wish the best for you, too, my friend.

    I've really enjoyed being a guest on your blog, Jo. Thank you for having me.

    Best wishes


  10. You're very welcome Helena. It was my pleasure.

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by and took the time to leave comments.

  11. Sorry, I'm late to the party, I was offline for a few days.

    I agree Helena, you need to jump in and just write; one of my favorite sayings is: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained!

    Wonderful interview, Jo.

    Karen Cioffi


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