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Jun 07 2015

Writing Superheroes: Robin Helm

Interviewing my first (and favorite) sidekick today! Read on and find out more…

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What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

I appreciate the question, because most people don’t realize that I train just as hard to be a sidekick to Batman as any superhero does, and I don’t get the headlines, the cool car, or the awesome headpiece. on the cruiseReally, the original television and comic book uniform was a complete embarrassment and humiliation – I looked more like an elf than a sidekick to a major superhero. The film versions gave me a slightly cooler look, and I really worked out to fill out that costume properly. I was in the gym for hours, and I adopted a strict low-carb diet. Batman’s black outfit camouflages a good many physical flaws that my suit exposes. Don’t tell him I said that. He can be a very grumpy bat. 

 

Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

Batman-and-RobinWell, it certainly wouldn’t bear any resemblance to the hideous original red, green, and yellow suit. I personally like the red and black chris-odonnell-robinsuit better than I do the silver and black. Batman_&_Robin_-_Batman_and_Robin_(Silver_suits)  I liked the red and black so well that I kept it. Yep, it’s hanging in my closet, ready for action at any moment. 

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Chocolate is definitely my kryptonite, though I have no idea why we’re talking about Superman. He doesn’t even have a sidekick, a mansion, or a cool car. Anyway, there is a weight limit on spandex, and if I don’t stop eating chocolate while I’m at my computer writing, I’m going to have to get my suit in a bigger size. That’s just too demoralizing to contemplate. I’d develop writer’s block for sure.

To top it all off, I’m planning a wedding, and I have about five hundred bags of candy stored in my spare bedroom for the candy bar. It calls to me every time I walk by that door. “Robin . . . Robin!” Fortunately, I hate sour candy and Twizzlers, and a good bit of it falls into those categories.

 

What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

College football was a major challenge, along with wedding planning. Once my daughter was engaged, her fiancé (then a college quarterback, now with an NFL team) helped her pick a date that wouldn’t interfere with college or NFL schedules. After that, we left him alone to concentrate on football, and we planned all the major vendors and venues within a week. I went to all of his home games and read everything I could find to help me understand the game, and Holy Cow! was it distracting. Now I’m floundering in details. I’ll have to BAM! ARGH! WOW! those pesky little things. Side note for sidekicks: Football fans can be downright mean. I had to move to different seats more than once. Good thing I didn’t use my Robin moves on those nasty guys. Being a sidekick always requires more self-control than being The Man.

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Stephen Covey got that right in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dust can become fascinating if you watch it long enough. Make a list and stick to it. [1. Take sidekick suit to the cleaners. 2. Ride my nifty motorcycle (and thank my lucky stars that it isn’t the Redbird original car.) 3. Write about life with Batman, Batgirl, and Alfred Pennyworth. 4. Be very thankful that I was not named Batboy.]

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

I felt like a superhero instead of a sidekick when I finished writing the third book of my first Trilogy (The Guardian Trilogy). I have no idea why my very next project was a series (The Yours by Design books). I plead insanity from breathing in the exhaust from the Batmobile while I followed on my motorcycle. It was great to fly with that first book, though I wasn’t nearly as good at writing as I am now.

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

In retrospect, I wish I would have done a better job formatting the first three books. I’m happy with the covers and formatting of the Yours by Design series, but not with the Guardian Trilogy. I plan to eventually reformat that trilogy and make new covers. It’s comparable to the evolution of my Robin suits. Those first efforts need adjustments, but the later versions are better.

All of my books have supernatural, paranormal, or sci-fi elements. It’s what I know and love. Everyone doesn’t like that, as is proven by the reviews, but it’s what interests me. I can’t write what doesn’t capture my imagination. I have to enjoy what I write myself. I suppose I’ll always be a sidekick because of it, and that’s fine. I don’t have to be the superhero. While it would be nice to become fabulously wealthy, I doubt that will happen to me. My writing is profitable enough to redecorate the house, but not profitable enough to send me on a world tour.

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

When I first started writing Guardian, M.K. Baxley (Mistress of the Pen), used her red editing program and bled all over it. It was a shock (Holy Smackdown!), but she helped me tremendously. She lectured me on how to set up point of view and make scenes stronger. She, along with Gayle Mills (Beta Babe) and Wendi Sotis (Author Extraodinaire), were very frank about the good and bad in my writing. Stephanie Hamm (Military Supermom) found the conflicts in my plot line. Julianne Martin (Angel) gave me constant encouragement. All of them were invaluable. My writing evolved and improved as I kept working, listening to their advice and suggestions. They are the superheroes, and I am the apprentice.

 

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

My latest release is Forever Yours, Book 3 of the Yours by Design series. I think it’s the strongest book in the trilogy. The premise of the series is that proud Fitzwilliam Darcy never really changed at all in the Regency period. He was a completely different man – his descendant (who became his ancestor) from twenty-first century Atlanta, Georgia. Fitzwilliam and Will switched places in time and each found their own Elizabeths. There are twists and turns in the plot, and of course, there’s a Wickham character, a Bingley, and a Jane in each time period. 

As far as why you need to read it, there are two Darcys. Need I say more?

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

Right now, I’m writing a YA version of The Guardian Trilogy, leaving out the Austen elements, adding and deleting scenes, and taking the plot line in a different direction. The series name will be The Xander Chronicles, and the books will be titled Prodigy, Nemesis, and Victor.

I may also start a new Austenesque book. Lately, I’m wondering what a person would give to be young again. I’m sixty-one now, and sidekicks have to stay in the game or they end up on the sidelines.

 

 

 You can find Robin at:

(Website)Jane Started It~Beyond Austen~Amazon~~Facebook~GoodReads ~Instagram

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12 comments

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  1. Anji

    Fantastic interview ladies! I’m one of the readers who just loves my JAFF mixed with the supernatural, paranormal and/or sci-fi as that’s the other geek hat that I wear. You won’t get any complaints from me on that score!

    1. Robin Helm

      Thank you so much, Anji! I’m encouraged to find another sci-fi fan like myself.

      I wonder how Darcy and Elizabeth would like traveling in space? Hmmm…..

      1. Anji

        Yes please, Robin!

        1. Robin Helm

          It would be fun, Anji. I have to think about that one. They could encounter creepy aliens and zip through wormholes. Maybe a wrinkle in the time continuance could land them in Regency England. Ha!

  2. Joy Dawn King

    What a hoot and a half to read. This was a chuckle/snort interview. Well done, ladies!

    1. Robin Helm

      Thanks, Joy! I enjoyed doing it. I just had fun, and it wasn’t hard for me. After all, I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars, and I love the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Transformers, and Superman. I really did watch the original Batman TV series and all the subsequent movies.

      I’m such a geek.

      1. Anji

        For me, before StarTrek, there came Doctor Who. That started in 1963 and here in the UK, we didn’t get Star Trek until it was jusr about finished in the USA. Mustn’t forget Babylon 5 and Firefly of the more recent series.

        1. Robin Helm

          I loved Doctor Who and Babylon 5. I also watched Battlestar Galactica. I have the Firefly series on DVD. What a nerd alert!

  3. Jennifer Redlarczyk

    I love it! Chocolate is Kryptonite. Well, we sure need that when reading JAFF. Fun interview. Jen Red

    1. Robin Helm

      The young woman who’s making my daughter’s wedding cake sent us a satellite cake to sample last night. I think lemon cake with bavarian creme filling and buttercream frosting is my new kryptonite. Ha!

  4. Laura Hile

    Writing six books in under four years makes you ‘The Man’ in my book. Writing Robin, write on!

    1. Robin Helm

      That’s very kind of you, Laura. You are one of my greatest encouragers.

      Write on, indeed!

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