Helen lives in Worcester with her husband, two teenaged children and two rescue cats. Her first poetry collection was nominated for the Forward Best First Collection Prize. She has published three other poetry collections and her short fiction has appeared in magazines including Ambit, Feminist Review and Stand. She holds a BA (Hons) in Humanities.
Helen's debut novel The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson was published in March 2019.
Helen tweets @Jemima_Mae_7
Helen's favourite novel is Dracula by Bram Stoker, and her favourite novella is Reunion by Fred Uhlman. Her top poet is Sylvia Plath.
The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson
Published on 7th March 2019.
Paperback copies, signed when available, are on my website here.
Page 100 of The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson...
I flicked his wrist with a magazine. ‘You’re certainly not coming if you’re going to gloat. And I don’t want you gossiping about them, either.’
‘I wouldn’t, I promise, but you must let me come!’
‘Maybe. I’ll think about it. But only if you swear to behave.’
That evening, Simon insisted on cooking dinner.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘No reason. Does there have to be one? I like cooking. Call it a general thank-you for letting me stay and being so considerate and everything.’
‘I’m not aware I have been, particularly.’ ‘You’ve made me feel welcome. You don’t mind the racket of my typing. You don’t want to know every detail about my life.’
‘Maybe I do, I just haven’t asked.’
‘Comes to the same thing. I think you would ask if there was something you especially wanted to know.’
That wasn’t true. I’d brushed aside as irrelevant, as none of my business, the things I most wanted to know: what sort of girls did he fancy? Did his friends and family wonder where he was? What did he really want from me?
He nipped out to buy the extra ingredients he needed to make his meal, refusing to let me see the contents of the carrier bag when he returned.
‘No fun unless it’s a surprise,’ he said with a grin. So I let him get on with it, torn between expecting burnt offerings or something worthy of MasterChef.
‘Go and change into something spectacular,’ he called out. Spectacular? I had a couple of good dresses I’d bought in the days when I was described as a “breakthrough fresh voice"...
Helen's second novel Old Bones will be published on 18th January 2021. The advanced information sheet is here... and to whet your appetite, this is page 100... enjoy!
I will have to tell Antonia that Gill called, and I have no idea what her reaction will be. The phone lodged securely in my back pocket, I stride back to the house, bracing myself for tears, angry laughter, or the silent treatment. Possibly all three.
‘Antonia, where are you? I’ve got something I need to tell you.’
‘What is it, Di? There’s no need to shout.’ She’s seated at the kitchen table, leafing through an Argos catalogue, turning down the pages showing things she’d like to buy.
I take a deep breath, which doesn’t help at all. ‘I’ve just been on the phone. Gill called.’
She turns down the corner of a page, pressing her thumbnail over the crease. ‘Gillian Anslow?’
‘Yes.’ ‘And what did she want?’
‘She’s coming up for a visit. Wanted to know if she could see me while she’s here.’
‘I hope you told her where to go.’
‘Of course I didn’t. Why would I?’
She glares at me. ‘She led you a dance, and you were too blind to see it.’
‘Rubbish,’ I mutter. ‘It was you that spoiled things, you know you did.’
She sniffs. ‘If that’s what you think, fine, you go on believing it. But don’t blame me when she lets you down again.’
I grit my teeth. ‘We’re going to have a meal together, that’s all. A pub lunch, all very casual.’
‘For old times’ sake?’ I shrug, unable to look Antonia in the eye.