My next victim is the amazing Stephen Helmes. He is very smart, funny great to have a conversation with and super passionate about his writing. He has written some awesome books two are available at hellboundbookspublishing.com and Amazon. If you haven’t read anything by him you are missing out on an adventure! Make sure that you get to know him and read his books. Don’t forget to please leave a review they really make a difference to a writer! Please help me welcome Stephen Helmes to Roadie Notes ….
We are going to do this interview a bit differently hope you enjoy it!
Stephen Helmes: It wasn’t till late in life that I started thinking of myself as a writer. I have loved horror films from a very young age. We’re talking, four and five-years-old, I was sitting up late on Saturday nights with my Grandmother watching Shock Theater, a local show that aired low-budget and classic horror films.
Along with this strong love for horror, the love of music was growing in me just as deep. I took up the guitar at age ten, started a band and was playing clubs by the time I was twenty-one, old enough to get in. I still had a strong passion for horror as an adult but considered it as a past time. Horror was my hobby; not something I thought of trying to do as a profession. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try to become an author. I guess it was because I was so headstrong on playing music.
It wasn’t till I was thirty-two when I wrote my first full length story. The passion for writing, using my imagination for something besides lyrics just kind of slipped up on me from behind. I had this really crazy nightmare back in 2001, and that was the spark that started the fire. The nightmare was so vivid that it brought me up from my sheets in a cold sweat. It was 4:30am and I knew if I went back to sleep I would forget almost everything about it. When I woke a few hours later there would be nothing left but the vague memory that I’d had a nightmare, and it would be lost forever. Being the horror lover that I was, I could never let such a good scare fade away with the morning dew. I had to save it, get my butt out of bed and write it all down while it was still fresh in my mind. That’s exactly what I did. I got up at 4:30 and wrote out the dream in detail.
The next evening, I sat at my computer and read what I had written in the wee hours of that morning, expecting it to be completely ridiculous. That’s the way dreams sometimes are. When you are having them, often you don’t know you’re asleep. They are real as real can be at that time. After you wake and your brain starts to function normally again, they seem like crazy cartoons. They are often laughable.
“Geez, what was I thinking? No more ice cream and pizza before bed!”
But the dream didn’t seem crazy at all. The images came right back into my head and were just as real, just as frightening as when I raised up in bed, eyes darting around the room. This was a scary dream.
I decided to see what I could do with it. I would add some characters, of course music was a huge part of my life so I structured the story around some of the real situations the band had encountered over the years. Okay, so story had the scares, and now we’ve added some faces. What’s next? A plot would be nice.
It took me some time, but a couple of months later, a story called Glasswalker was born.
After Glasswalker, I found that I wasn’t finished with this writing thing. Like a vampire tasting the sweet flavor of life for the first time, I wanted more. I started paying more attention to my dreams, writing them down, twisting them around, adding them in. It wasn’t long at all till my second story was underway, “Little Red Socks.”
In case you haven’t guess it already, that’s what the title, Nightly Visits means. Nightly Visits are the dreams that visit you in the night, taking you on virtual reality trips to worlds you would never be willing to explore when you’re awake.
I have two published books so far, and I have three more that are in the writing process. You may ask why I am working on three books at once. It didn’t start out that way. I never end a story until it tells me that it’s finished. When I start writing those first words, I never know if it’s going to be a short story, a novella, or a novel. Two of the stories that were planned for the upcoming, Nightly Visits III, just didn’t seem to want to end. They were reaching twenty and thirty thousand words and still no happily ever after in sight. So two of the stories broke off and are now going to be novels. Which will come first, who knows? That is up to the stories.
As I mentioned earlier, it was that nightmare back in 2001 that really started the writing, however, I have been a Stephen King fan for a very long time. In the beginning I was all about his movies, but it didn’t take long to realize that he had a lot more books than films. That’s not to mention that everybody always told me that the book is better than the movie. I finally decided that it was time for me to break down and see for myself.
That afternoon I found myself in a local used bookstore. I picked two books that I had never heard of: “Desperation” and “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” After only a few pages, the door into the book world finally opened and I walked in with a mile-of-a-smile stretched across my face. It changed my way of life. I became a reader, and shortly after, I became a writer.
Every writer needs one very important thing. They need a door they can close, a separation from the rest of the world. Most of the time I am behind that closed-door when I write. But this is not the only place these monsters in my head are born.
Three years ago I moved 600 miles south of my home in northwest Georgia, to Palmetto Florida. I have always loved the beach and living nearly 400 miles from the nearest body of salt water was just too much. At the closing of 2014 I packed what I could fit in my little Nissan and headed south, not only for the winter, but for my life. New Year’s Day, 2015 brought a new start on life. It brought a new job, a new bed, a new office, and new faces, faces that would soon become friends.
I consider myself blessed to be here. I may eat those words after I experience my first category 4 hurricane, but for now, I feel blessed. I wake up every morning to the smell of that salty air that I love so much but rarely smelt before. I live minutes away from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, nearly five miles of highway stretched right through the center of Tampa Bay. I travel this bridge twice a day, six days a week, and I still have to pinch myself before I realize that this is now my home.
Along with my office, the one with the closed-door, I’ll sometimes find myself, laptop in hand, sitting in my secret spot on the beach. Just like behind the closed door of my office, I can find my zone here. The sound of the waves are tranquil as the silence. When I am deep into a story, it’s almost like I am in a deep sleep. I am only sitting there physically. Mentally, I am far, far away, wherever the story takes me.
I never listen to music when I write. As much as I love music, I find that if it’s playing, I am focusing on the music or the story within its lyrics rather than zoning out into my own world.
I may use sound effects occasionally when I write however. I call them mood sounds. Much like the stage lights affect the mood of the music when a band is playing, sounds can play a huge roll in the mood of the writing. I have been known to use gentle rain and distant thunder sounds to set my mind into play. I have also used the sound of a slow beating heart to help me sink into the dark, foggy world I am visiting.
I can say that I truly love writing every bit as much as I enjoy playing music. They are two totally different worlds, but they are both my worlds. I am happy to breathe the air of both lives and be able to live both dreams simultaneously.
I spent more than thirty years of my life trying to become a rock star. In that journey I met a lot of very talented people, musicians who had the same dream as I had, but we could never get past playing the club scene. We had a few big shows outside the club scene, nearly selling out the theater in two of them. Our band, House of Flies, even had a cameo appearance in a movie called Chainsaw Cheerleaders. But the lesson we learned was that if you don’t know the right people, if you are not in the right place at the right time, making it big is a very long and hard journey that very few can make on their own. If I knew when I was a teenager what I know now, would I do it all again? You bet your ass I would! I would do it with a smile!
But the same rule seems to go for authors as with the world of music. If you don’t have an agent it’s hard to really be seen. You have to be very good at not only writing, but you have to know how to publish for yourself and market your own books. I am very proud to have Hellbound Books behind me on this journey, but other than my good friends there, I’m on my own in a world I know little about.
So why do we do it if it’s so difficult? Why not just work your fair share and live your life rather than spending your spare time hunting for a treasure you may never find? It’s not the love of making it that leads us forward. It’s the love of doing what we do. This is our life. When I cross over into that other world, whether it be a world full of colors or a world of shadows, I feel high as a kite. If I never made it as big as King, Koontz, and Rice, I would be completely satisfied just to be able to pay my bills and live my life writing stories. I’m a writer. I love to write. There is nothing like when my mind takes that virtual reality trip and the scenes start playing out in my head. It’s a lot like watching a movie. It’s the characters who create the story. I’m just the secretary who writes down.
I hope you’re ready to enter my world of nightmares, because there’s lots to see. Two books are out and there are lots more books to come. We have only scratched the surface.
You can get your copy of “Nightly Visits” and “From 12 to 6 (More Nightly Visits)” at Amazon.com, or visit us at hellboundbookspublishing.com
Nightly Visits – https://tinyurl.com/j8jqu7a
From 12 to 6 (More Nightly Visits) – https://tinyurl.com/h7dpuj8
Stephen Helmes at Hellbound Books Publishing – https://tinyurl.com/jfetdhc
My Facebook Page: http://tinyurl.com/hdof2s8
Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/j542syo
Facebook Nightly Visits Page: http://tinyurl.com/gswtrpe
Guest Post at Lisa’s Writobia – http://tinyurl.com/hcdr4hp
SPOTS Read yourself at Lisa’s Writobia – http://tinyurl.com/ztotnss
Some of Stephen Helmes books: