Children's Literature

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Author Interview With L.L. Helland

L.L. Helland is the author of middle grade and young adult books.

Author Interview With L.L. Helland

By S.V. Richard

Flamingnet, the teen book review website, introduces author L.L. Helland. A registered nurse turned author, Helland’s first novel, The Hellandback Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For is available as a paperback book or an ebook. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, she was raised with her twin sister, two older sisters, and older brother. Helland now resides in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and has worked as an ICU nurse, a school nurse, and a Director of Nursing before becoming a full time mom.

Hellandback Kids

Helland’s novel, The Hellandback Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For, is set in a Scottish hospital. When four kids visit their great grandmother, they inadvertently find themselves in a world like no other. As they meet intriguing characters, such as the Bundlebobs or an intriguing raccoon, their long deceased great grandfather tries to keep them out of trouble. Through their experience, they teeter on the edge of reality and a wildly imaginative world as they learn important lessons in life along the way.

Welcome to Flamingnet. How long have you been writing?

For several years now, but my life was too full to pursue my writing any further until now.  

What was your first story about?

I started with the genre Historical/Romance with the time period during the Civil War.  Then a large, unexpected, jump later I found the genre I love the most: fiction/MG/YA (middle grade/young adult).

What inspired your latest book?

My sons inspired my MG/YA.  Although they are grown now, their completely different personalities along with their average lifestyle made me think of siblings that are all different.   The best way to get over a ho hum drum life is to read. 

Do you model your characters off of real life people?

Yes, my sons, Jon and Chris, my niece, Trisha, and Jon's friend for many years, Brittany.

What is your latest book about?

Four arguing siblings ranging in age from eleven to fifteen-years-old.  They each have very different personalities: Fifteen-year-old Jon is a brilliant individual. Fourteen-year-old Trisha is a dancer (well at least she tries) and a romantic. Twelve-year-old Brittany loves science and is very focused and responsible. Last, eleven-year-old Chris also loves lacrosse like his older brother and is very popular.  The four Hellandback kids live in Boston and travel to Scotland to visit their Mam who lives in an unusual house, a converted old hospital.  Mam picks rooms for each of her great grand-children and then the mystical, adventures with wild creatures and creepy circumstances begin.  Trisha thinks she has found the perfect guy until she meets Godfrey's odd friends. The large glass jars, maggots, worms, and a brooch, which is alive, make her think twice about the guy that is just eye candy.  Jon only thinks about success and money until he gets forced into being a leader for the weirdest group of individuals. Chris runs into the Bundlebobs, who have green fur large heads, and break their nails off, dip them in their ears, and pull out the golden jelly.  They are their own parasites, which at times grosses Chris out. Brittany at twelve-years-old gets dumped into a nightmare of her own with the Black Plague.  The book moves very quickly and covers a lot of fantasy.

What will readers learn after reading your book?

That the MG/YA need to think about their future.  It doesn't hurt to plan things or discover new things about themselves.  Go on adventures-read as many books as possible. 

The individuals that read the most have the best SAT scores and do better in school.  Of course, it doesn't hurt to take Latin as soon as you can for improving those all important national vocabulary exams.

What are some things you learned to improve your writing?

Listen to the experts, and don't take anything to heart.  If you don't have a thick skin and you're not famous, you'd better take on something less torturous to do with your time. 

What’s the hardest thing about being an author?

The hardest thing about being an author or writer is promoting your work.  Writing is the easy part.  I can also say that reading one's own work many, many times leads to grammar and editorial problems.  You'd think the more times you read something the more mistakes you'd catch, but it's just the opposite.

Who is your favorite author?

I like any book dealing with anything medical since I'm a RN, but I would say Rick Riordan because he was my son's fifth grade history teacher.  I knew him before he started writing the MG/YA genre.  He wrote his adult books, but I think he hit it out of the ball park with his MG series. He was always so creative and imaginative in class.  I remember on Parent's Day he told his students to write anything they wanted for five minutes.  Anything at all.  If they couldn't think of anything to just write, "I can't think of anything" and write that over and over until something came to them.  What some of them wrote was quite interesting.   

How do you think technology is changing the publishing industry?

It gives the average person the ability to print a book - good or bad. It's their choice.  Not everybody has a non-fiction life changing experience or has a celebrity for a relative.  It's hard to say though because with over 400,000 books published every year it's becoming an over-whelming challenge to stay positive over promoting your book.

Do you think we will still have print books available in twenty years?

Oh, I hope so.  There is nothing like holding a book in your hands, dog earring the corners to keep your place, double folding your favorite pages, and underlining or adding notes in the blank space of the pages.

Flamingnet thanks LL Helland for taking the time to talk with us about her story and share some inside tips about writing. Look for The Hellandback Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For available now! To read more, check out Also, The Hellandback Kids: Be Careful What You Wish For may be purchased through (as a paperback), (as a paperback or ebook), or (as an ebook). Happy reading!

© 2011 - S.V. Richard; reprinted with permission of the author.