Hi there! I’m Helen Buckley.
I’m originally from Hounslow in West London. I now live in Bedfordshire.
I have a BA in Journalism and Contemporary History from City University and Queen Mary, University of London, and an MSc in Gender, Sexuality, Politics and Culture from Birkbeck (University of London).
It was during my undergraduate final year that I started volunteering for a charity (Young Minds), and realised that the charity sector seemed like the right place for me. After I graduated I got a job working at Stonewall, running their national information service.
After that, I spent 3.5 years in Honduras in Tegucigalpa, working with families living in poverty at Nueva Esperanza (New Hope). I can’t quite begin to express how deeply important that experience was for me and I still have many dear friends in Honduras. (You may notice that I’ve included some Honduran characters in my novel Star in the Shadows!)
I’ve always been an avid reader. I used to walk to school reading a book trying not to bump into lamp posts. I would take out a book in school form class and zone the world out. I was geeky and awkward and ugly and lonely, and books were a beautiful escape.
I always thought I would write horror or thriller novels when I was younger. But I never wrote anything except (substandard) poetry until I was in my early thirties and a life situation led me to turn to novel writing – seeking the escape I once craved when I was younger.
Some people write because they have a burning idea, or perhaps a burning ambition. For others it may come from a wellspring of joy. For me, it was a mix of desperation and depression arising from my inability to conceive a child that led me to pour my heart into writing a book.
My husband and I had been trying for over 2 years and were awaiting our first cycle of IVF to start. As the months and days ticked away in time with my biological clock, I knew I needed a distraction.
I started getting up at 5am and writing before work. Then I started writing on the train to work, and in my lunch break, and in the evenings whenever I could. Something magical happened when I started to write. Everything else fell away. All the fears and anxieties, and the sense of shame and failure and anger, they all melted away as I focused everything I had on my characters and their lives.
During that hot heady summer of 2018, when England was progressing in the World Cup, I had my IVF embryo transfer – the same day England won against Sweden. I finished my book. I fell pregnant. My book was accepted for publication. Life had suddenly taken a very unexpected turn!