Hey there everyone.
Welcome to hump day, so glad you could make it!
As a special treat for you all today, I have had the greatest pleasure of chatting with a very talented author by the name of H.K Abell. Come with us as we both delve into his elegant and quirky worlds of dilettantes Helena & Penny and the dark, twisted visions of his alter ego Jessica B. Bell too.
An amazing combination from an incredible writer – time to kick off the interview.
Mr H.K. Abell, it is wonderful to have you over here today as our very distinguished guest to explore your writing and creativity advice.
Let’s start with the enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat, the primary protagonist in your Memoirs of a Dilettante series and the spin off play – Penelope, Countess of Arcadia. What is the relationship of Helena & Penelope, what are their dreams, hope and desires and what makes Helena such a relatable creature who has won the hearts and minds of many women who have read your thoughtful and amusing tales of her escapades?
I like to think of both Helena and Penny as orphans of a sort – Helena almost by choice – she is kind of the black sheep of her family, and so, feels alone in the world. Penny, of course, lost her parents – Helena’s sister, and so they are, in many respects, all each other have. There’s a comradery there, as well as a sweetness that I think touches people. I mean, I hope they make people laugh, too, but there are moments that pull on the heartstrings.
As for their hopes and desires, I think that as a dilettante, Helena wants so much to succeed at something – anything – that would allow her to live her life by her own rules. There’s so much crossover here I’m not sure if I’m talking about me or Helena anymore, but there you are.
You are also a poet, musician and artist – tell us how that can influence the world in which Helena and Penelope inhabit or how they perceive the world based on these creative outlets? They both appear to be very opinionated when it comes to music for example.
The first volume of Memoirs had to be heavily foot-noted because of this – Helena and Penny often speak a language of their own, and one of the nicest reviews I got said something to the effect of how Memoirs felt like being let in on an inside joke.
I strip-mined a lot of my own experiences for the Helena & Penny stories, and so when they find themselves at a very pretentious poetry reading, for instance, these are things that I have experienced. Be very careful around writers – you never know what we might steal for artistic purposes.
Your alter ego has an alter ego and it is fascinating how the layers fit together. Tell us more about Jessica B. Bell, her relationship with Helena and the antics that she gets up to when Helena is out of town and not around. Jessica has three books published currently with another in the pipeline.
Jessica is the real writer. She writes pure fiction, and Helena writes the self-indulgent, ironic, post-modern, break-the-fourth-wall stuff. Jessica writes – that’s what Jessica does. She’s Helena’s dark version of the Velveteen Rabbit, or perhaps Pinocchio…she just wants to be a real girl.
If your novels were being made into movies, which actors would you cast in the lead roles?
I’ve always liked Anne Hathaway for Helena, only because Audrey Hepburn is unavailable. Penny is a bit harder to cast, but I based her original look on a singer named Emilie Autumn.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., E.E. Cummings, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Gail Simone, Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, Harlan Ellison, Margaret Atwood, Terry Moore, Mike Mignola, Dr. Seuss.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
When I was writing CHUK (published serially on my blog over the course of a year… currently in the editing process) I did a lot of research by looking up news stories for the time periods I was writing in. I would use anecdotal information gleamed from newspaper stories to add authenticity to the story. I also kept a Cajun phrasebook open and handy.
I’ve got another project I’m working on that required me to research the history, geography, plants, animals, etc.. of Pre-Columbian Caribbean islands. I’ve got pages and pages of notes.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I really like telling stories, and I suppose that if a story hooks me deeply enough, then I’ll write it, if even for myself. Primarily I am my own audience, first and foremost.
I started writing again a few years ago, honestly, to put my money where my mouth was. It was in the wake of Hunger Games and all those other young adult novels that, in my opinion, were very formulaic and not very well written. So, I told my daughters that I’d write them something better. I’m still working on it. We’ll see.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I have other outlets. I’m not writing right now because I can’t get my head into it – lots of personal stuff going on – and so I’ve started playing music. I enjoy it, and it doesn’t require any real creative effort on my part – I can just play and sing and not worry about writing. I’ll do that until I get bored, or get the itch to start writing.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Reading. Playing guitar. Reading again. Ranting against Trump.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I am very excited to get back into the third Jessica book, which will explore that metafictional relationship further. I’m working with some great writers, and have the story plotted out, now I’ve just got to find the time. I’ve got extensive notes so when I feel the urge, it’s all good to go. But I’m most excited that VISCERA – a collection of strange tales by Jessica B. Bell is coming out in October. All the while I was writing the Memoirs and CHUK, I’d be writing short stories, some of which were published in various e-zines or whatnot, and which have now been collected.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Write because you enjoy it – the second you start trying to please other people or win over some sort of audience, you’ll start to hate it – and doubt yourself, and resent your audience (or lack thereof). Read a lot. Read people that write better than you do. Read everything from comic books to fine literature. You can’t always eat fast food – sometimes you need something a little more challenging.
And that’s a wrap! You’ve been an amazing guest, thank you for spending time with us today.
(Artist’s impression of Helena Hann-Basquiat & Penny by DCT Designs – Copyright Dana C. Thomas)
H.K. Abell is a writer, a poet, a sometime musician and artist, and the father of three beautiful girls.
Sometimes, he writes as the enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.
As Helena, he published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and this past April, released Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two, as well as the Shakespearean-style play, Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.
(Artist’s impression of Jessica B. Bell by DCT Designs – Copyright Dana C. Thomas)
His pseudonym Helena has her own pseudonym, Jessica B. Bell, who not only writes strange, dark and twisted fiction, but is herself the subject of the meta-fictional novel JESSICA, and its sequel, SINGULARITY, written in collaboration with a host of talented writers.
VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year under the name Jessica B. Bell.
You can connect with him via the following Social Media channels:-
Amazon Author Page:- Helena Hann-Basquiat – Amazon Author Page
Goodreads:- Helena Hann-Basquiat (Goodreads Author)
Twitter:- Helena Hann-Basquiat (Twitter)
Website:- DILETTANTE FACTORY – home of Dilettante Publishing and the diverse creative outlet of HK Abell
You can buy his books here (under both Helena Hann-Basquiat & Jessica B. Bell):-
Still want more? Well, music has a heavy influence in both H.K. Abell’s work and life. There is a prompt over at The Daily Post called ‘Melody’ which seems like a natural association to team up with. For more articles on the subject of melody then click on the links below:-
1. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Off the Path
2. Melody – trippingontales
3. Pedestrian Regret – LazyHaze
4. Melody Harmony Music Speech and Universe – Life is creation*
5. Dreamy Onion – Unmatched tunes
6. MY ENDURING BONES – Out Of Tune
7. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN – The unseen human side of sidewalks
8. Yield – indisputably inconclusive
9. Mesmerising Melody – rupalislale
10. Sandmanjazz – The Song is Ended…
11. Song Lyrics – Those magic changes – Singledust
12. the15thday – “woman” and “kid” be messing with my fix.
13. Melody – Ripples N Reflections
14. Doodling – Grab a piece of Peace! – Maze of the Mind
15. Sing It To Me – Melolontha by the River
16. a night at the concert – Praise Word Spaces
17. Melody – Asleep At The Wheel
18. Music I gratefully discovered in Paris, part III – In The Soul’s Streets
19. the melody you play – Love it Now
20. Conor Sweetman – Melody v medley
21. Muy Tranquila – Very Quiet – thebesotted7muses
22. Melody of a melancholic wait… – maybeiamsure
23. Leanne Murphy – Ten words #24
24. Leanne Murphy – Ten words #25
25. Letitia Page – Melody
26. Melody – CrossGear
27. Louiesse – A Soft Plea
28. HarlemATL Inner City Blues – The Black Files: A Slither of Truth
29. Music – Leigha Robbins
30. Novel No. 4 in B Minor – TAwrites
31. Writer 873 – Nature’s Melody
32. The Hidden Chalkboard (The HC) – Song of Victory
33. logicaldreams – Looking for the Right Melody
34. Travel’s Melodious Pause… – Nomadchasingwaterfalls
35. Melody – Asleep At The Wheel
36. inspiration in progress – Melody
37. i go back – know my heart
38. Elusive Concatenation of Sounds – Making Sense of Complications
39. Red Mountain Motel – I Am Too Quiet Daily Prompt–Melody
40. Moonlight Reflections – Melody
41. Myammy! Moving in together at 50… – Peep! Is Florida is for the birds?
42. The sensual melody dance – Serendipitous Web Life
43. Devil Doll Musings – In other words, River Song!
44. Impromptu Promptlings – Distant Melody
45. The happy Quitter! – Good Evening, Good Night
46. What makes a city? – serenitynay
47. Chris Thilk – Writing Prompt: Melody
48. Hans Christian Andersen – English Lit Geek
49. Elizabeth Bishop – English Lit Geek
50. Lisa’s Journal Blog – Melody
51. a bliss of birds – become like a restless traveler, wandering boldly
52. Life’s little moments create a great Melody – Day 2 – Cooking with the DeGroffs
53. April’s Perspective – Life’s Melody
54. Life – World Through My Eyes
55. Wither Or Thrive – A Pianists Lecture on Melody
56. wanderingmindmindlesswandering – The Melody of Our Hearts
57. Rescue – Alchemy of Story
58. Laurel Grove loves…
59. It’s All in Finding the Right Words – Melody
60. Autism in Our Nest – Helping Speech Through Music
61. 83 Unsung Heroes – Confused By A Wicked Melody
62. Standisms: life through my eyes – daily prompt: Melody
63. Chadmattician – Working To Melody
64. Writing and Works – You Always Danced Alone
65. Frank Prem – singing broken heart at number 60
66. Chris Writes – A Great Melody
67. Purposive Writer – Sunsets And Melodies
68. Listen to the Language of the Birds – The Melody of the Spirit – Jacki Kellum
69. The ones who hurt us the most – cirque de la nuit
70. City Life – The ink drop
71. Melody – The Mono-Economy of the New Millennium
72. Dipping Into the Heart – Andy Gibb
73. Unshackled – Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored
74. Melody – Awordseeker
75. Life is a Melody – RituSinghdiaries
76. Perception – Life at 17
77. Melody – The Missing Head
78. Goosebumps – Afterlife Love Story
79. Wir schaffen zusammen … – transitnuremberg
80. Musically Reviewed – Melody
81. FaithWalkingHebrews11:1 – My Soul’s Favorite Melody
82. The Well-Informed Namer – Melody
83. Saint P. Blogging – Melody is the Prompt for the Day
84. The Melody Of Life – Specscladeyes
85. poetry || defining a melody. – mind JO business
86. In Between – THE FIFTEENTH CONCESSION
87. Review of 12 Angry Men – ARJUN SHIVARAM
88. The Ballet – Tales & Trails
89. Life like a melody – persuasion2015
90. the FLAVORED word – Want to know why The Wiggles were always so darn happy?
91. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN – Nature’s tempestuous opus of life
92. kindergartenknowledge.com – Norwegians Sing Hallelujah. The Best.
93. dinamicdynasty – Melody
94. Melody – Covert Novelist
95. Reflections of life – Music Called Life
96. A Gift to Share – A lot from Lydia
97. Moments – Melody
98. The Melody Lingers On – Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky
99. Life Is Like A Beautiful Melody, Only The Lyrics Are Messed Up – Its Digant
100. Jeanne d’Arc – november child
101. There Are More Poets than Stars in the Firmament – with harmonious intent, in dappled glade, cover me
102. copypower – MELODY & LIFE
103. manvsloneliness – Day 59: The Man and the Daily Prompt; ‘Melody’
104. Melody is the Prompt for the Day – Saint P. Blogging
105. Hot White Snow – Leader of the Band
106. They, You and Me – lullaby
107. Soft melody of hope – Let The Light In ~ Reflections
108. To Wear A Rainbow – melody…haiku
109. Melodia – apserranoblog
110. Melody – areidsrambles
111. Fall is Like a Song – Writings from the Heart
112. Life Is Like That – A simple melody of the US national anthem according to Wright
113. The melody of your voice – If but a dream within a dream
114. Goddess of Sound – Caillen James –Author
115. Pen and paper – Mr.Brb_blog
116. Insach – Which language?
117. Nieuwsbrief Theo Herbots Waarom Inschrijven? Theo Herbots Newsletter Why subscribe? – Wie is Theo Herbots ? // Who is Theo Herbots?
118. The Melody of Anonymity – Justus Books
119. Same Melody, Different Song – Hazed & Confused
120. Melody – MistryLand
121. Rhythm – indisputably inconclusive
122. A Young Girl and the Sea – Sydney Hartle
123. When all falls into place – mum’s going nuts
124. Book Review: Sheet Music: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Love Story by Ann Lister – Sleepless Book Junkies
125. Melody of Advice – Oh, border!
126. SERENDIPITY – THE SONG IS ENDED, BUT THE MELODY LINGERS ON
127. Daily Post Prompt: Unchained Melody, A Poem – Sumyanna Writes
128. September Song – genusrosa
129. The Melody of Writing – Content for You
130. Melodies of nature – Second Time Blogger
131. Confessions of a Curly Girl – Wave
132. The Melody of Hope – The Infinite Cosmos of Cosmos’
133. We Didn’t Belong – The Corporate Fawn
134. I love Music – Just Writing!
135. That Divine Voice – Justus Books
136. Your Symphony – findingbreathless
137. Music Is Evolution – psychedelicwizard
138. prompt: melody – pink lemonade lover
139. Meet Me in Nevada – My Tunnel Song
140. The Melody of Talent – SUCCESS STRATEGIES
141. Melodious dance – Rhea Khaira
142. A Tune So Grand – atrangizindagieksafar
143. Purple Lullaby – LazyHaze
144. Melody of the Soul – Redhead Reflections
145. the default blogger – A soothing sound
146. Aviary – Accidents
147. Like never before – yasminmay
148. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Feline Melody
149. Original-Dante – Intergalactic Musical.
150. Weird almost quiet moments… – clumsyandsilly
151. Angel of Melody – eddaz
152. Melody – Postcard from a Pigeon
153. The melody of life – A Beginner´s Blogger Diary
154. The melody of life – Bloggers Paradise
155. Think About It – Love Song
156. Life with Jess – Even In Australia
157. Life is great – The last song
158. Acrostical Melody – The Inkwell
159. The Real Man Blues – Dangerspouse
160. Michael J. Fite – Share Your Melodies To The World Challenge – What Does Your Melodies Tell The World About You?
161. Meander Marquee – Power of nature
162. Making it write – Ad infinitum
163. Don’t let me down… – A Walk in the Woods
164. YOU TYPE-F**K REAL GOOD… – Insidious Temptation
165. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Background Melody
166. Have a Nice Day – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
167. Melody – iamdeltapositivenegative
168. A Stones Melody Memory – My Second Act, Scene One
169. kStan(ly) kSays – repeating in a loop
170. Melody – The Good Angle
171. A Bitter Melody – lovelyricism
172. It’s your party – writemebad
173. thelonerose – Melodies
174. Southern By Design – Lyrical Laughs
175. B_ up to date – Melody Sofie
176. The Voice, Lyrics & Melody of Tom Waits – Sneakers on Pavement
177. Sweet Memories – whippetwisdom.com
178. Lantern Words – A New Melody
179. A Vibrant Palette – A Symphony
180. Zzz by The Cab – Wanderlust
181. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Melody Medley
182. Travel Much? – Hello darkness / favourite pick up lines
183. Melody, Music and Nature – Writer’s Blog
184. Travel Much? – Amish country
185. I wrote a book. Now what? – Switch it up, and swap it out.
186. Zombie Flamingos – And, Fall has arrived – bring on the comfort food
187. Travel Much? – Coupon much?
188. Writing Prompt: Melody -why I love you – KimKnight_Author
189. Mother – indisputably inconclusive
190. Meaning – indisputably inconclusive
191. Dancing to Melodies – Random Thoughts and Musings
192. Devil Doll Musings – It’s the Same Old Song
193. You and Me – mySestina
194. theblackwallblog – Melody Haiku attempt, plus 1
195. Melody – Daily Prompt – ladyleemanila
196. Lost Property Repository – Murder Club, the name revealed…..
197. Melodies of My Life – Change Our Thinking
198. La Tour Abolie – Playing piano in the dark