Interview With Author Helen Power
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Ready for a new ghost story? Look no further than Helen Power’s new novel, The Ghosts of Thorwald Place! I recently sat down with Helen to discuss how she wrote her novel and what her path to publishing looked like.
What is the premise of The Ghosts of Thorwald Place?
My novel flips the typical murder mystery script on its head in the sense that my protagonist/detective is murdered at the very beginning of the book. She’s killed in the elevator of her apartment building, Thorwald Place, and she’s doomed to spend her afterlife observing her neighbors in the apartments adjacent to the elevator. Rachel is tethered to the elevator, and every time it moves, she’s pulled back with it. She’s finally seeing what goes on behind closed doors, but she’s still only getting parts of her neighbors’ stories. She’s desperate to find out who killed her, but because she’s a ghost, she’s powerless to do anything about it.
I love that the book is told from the murder victim’s POV. What made you decide to write from Rachel’s POV?
I wanted to write a book about a ghost solving her own murder. I also wanted to explore the stereotypical people you’d expect to see in a wealthy apartment building like Thorwald Place. It was interesting to give a new spin on old stereotypes while writing from the point of view of a character who generally took everything at face value when she was alive. Rachel undergoes a lot of personal growth after her death!
What inspired you to write The Ghosts of Thorwald Place?
The idea initially came to me in a dream, where I was a ghost attached to an elevator, and all I wanted was to get away. But every time I escaped into the adjacent apartments, the elevator ripped me away. I took this idea and ran with it. I already knew that I wanted to have numerous subplots, and I recognized similarities with the Hitchcock film Rear Window. I embraced these similarities and threw in a few Easter eggs for classic film fans, the most obvious being the title of the book. Lars “Thorwald” is the villain in the iconic film.
I see that you are an academic librarian. Has your experience as a librarian influenced your writing?
One of the key outcomes from getting a library and information science degree is becoming an expert at research. As an academic librarian, I don’t have all the answers, but I do know where to find them. I love helping students develop their search strategies and help them dig for good resources for their projects. A few times I’ve actually gotten inspiration for stories based on their research topics!
What was your path to publication?
I wrote the first half of the book a while back during National Novel Writing Month, and I wrapped it up shortly afterward. I shelved it for a while before revisiting it and doing some editing. I took another break, during which I worked on other projects, including short stories, before coming back and editing it some more. I then queried the novel, sending it to agents, none of whom thought that a book from the point of view of a ghost would sell. Then, I participated in PitMad, a Twitter pitch event, and CamCat Books expressed interest in the story. The rest is history!
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Just write! Enjoy the process. Write what you want to read, not what you think will sell. If you’re just writing to publish, the process is painful and all the life is sucked out of your story. It’s important to get out of your head and write what you’re passionate about, and someone else will recognize and appreciate this passion later on.
The Ghosts of Thorwald Place is now out! Where can people get it?
It’s available wherever books are sold, in ebook, hardcover, large print, and audiobook!
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