Helen lives in Worcester. 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. Her second "Morevale" novel, Old Bones, was published in January 2021.
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.
Maddie is also stocked at the beautiful e-bookshop Scarlet Ferret and sold with "extras": some of Helen's poems and a free e-copy of Virgina Woolf's A Room of One's Own.
Please enjoy the opening lines of The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson...
The sender of the letter I held in my hands had signed herself Madeleine, and how could she possibly have known how deeply that name would affect me? I felt the world around me cease to spin, a jumble of memories tumbling out from a cupboard stuffed with junk: balding teddy bears, cassette tapes with handwritten labels, pens with shattered nibs, yellowed birthday cards, dice from board games long since binned, luggage labels, school ties, smooth pebbles, broken jewellery, pictures torn from magazines. Reminders of people loved, admired, lusted over, despised. Names that no longer meant a thing, others that were invisibly tattooed on the fragile skin on the insides of my wrists.
Not difficult to imagine the grief, the tears, the unctuous if heartfelt outbursts of emotion along the “taken from us too young” lines Madeleine’s death occasioned. My best friend since our first day at school. Dead at twenty-two. Her light snuffed out, at peace with the angels, et cetera. Mutely I accepted the commiserations, the clasping hands, the condolence cards littered with silver crosses and embossed lilies. Worse for her parents, of course. Like me, Madeleine had been an only child; unlike me, brilliant, brimming with that vague quality called potential.
Published on 18th January 2021.
Please enjoy the opening lines of Old Bones...
Antonia switches off the radio. I hadn’t wanted it on in the first place, it’s the same every day: a depressing catalogue of national political squabbles and international disasters. Occasionally a major crime perks things up a bit, but these days even murder isn’t headline news unless it has some peculiar feature. Serial killers always make the news, but most murders are sordid domestic affairs that don’t fire the imagination.
‘No new developments,’ Antonia says. ‘They can find out all sorts, these days, from a few old bones.’
I grunt, neatly beheading my boiled egg with a knife. The bones in question were discovered in a quarry near the woods just down the road from us. We all, I think, expected the let-down of being informed that the bones were those of a sheep or a cow. But no, it seems they are definitely human remains, although only a partial skeleton was recovered.
‘To be expected,’ Antonia commented. ‘I daresay animals made off with some of them.’ A fan of detective shows, she knows about these things.
She spreads butter thickly on her bread and adds a layer of homemade damson jam. ‘I wonder if it’s anyone we know? I mean, it’s not likely to be some ancient Saxon king, is it?’