Where the Hell did the Helens come from? by Janine McCaw
by Janine McCaw
“The Gilmore Girls meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
WHERE THE HELL DID THE HELENS COME FROM?
I can pinpoint the exact time I got the inspiration to write my first book, Olivia’s Mine. I was walking up the wooden steps of what was then the gift shop of the British Columbia Museum of Mining, having just taken a tour through the copper-rich side of Jane Mountain, a land formation that once was a major source of North America’s copper supply. I remember thinking how strange it was that thousands of people once lived a community that was now home to a handful at best. I had driven past the Britannia Beach signpost several times on my way from Vancouver to Whistler, but I never took the time to stop and hear the story of the old, worn down mine at the side of the road. I never knew that one night, the entire lower town was flooded out into Howe Sound because of a poorly constructed dam. As I continued up the steps, a voice inside my head said to me, you should really try to tell this story. Because it was based on fact it was a little different to structure than most stories. I already knew the end, so I had to plot it backwards to find the middle and eventually a beginning.
With my second novel, Helens-of-Troy, it was the complete opposite. I have no idea why I was thinking about the Helen of Troy we all know, the one with the Trojan horse, but for some reason the title appealed to me and stuck with me for a while. I didn’t want to write another historical novel at the time, I wanted something that allowed a little more creative freedom. So I got to thinking, what if there was more than one Helen…and what if they were kick-ass demon fighters? I mean, the original H-O-T, she was a bit of a superhero for her time, wasn’t she?
So I decided these Helens would live in a small town called Troy. Pretty much a no-brainer there. But who were they? Why were they different than everybody else? What battle did they have to fight, and how exactly would they do it? To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know when I started to write their story. But one by one the Helens began to come to life, first Helena the matriarch of the family, and then Helen and Ellie. I decided to make the eldest and the youngest the polar opposite of the one in the middle, which allows for a lot of conflict.
Yes, I decided that there would be a vampire in this first novel. But he wasn’t going to be a warm and fuzzy kind of vampire. He was going to be a nasty soul. But the story isn’t so much about the vampire as the relationships between mothers and daughters, what makes their relationships so emotional? I threw in a group of slightly misguided teenagers for added fun, and the Helens began to plot themselves. I had to reel them in from time to time. They’re talkers, the Helens.
I hope you get a chance to read the book sometime. Maybe you’ll see some of your own family in them. If at the end of the day you smile and think, that was a good little story, then the Helens would be very pleased, and so would I. Thanks for spending a few moments of your day with us.
HELENS-OF-TROY is the second novel completed by Janine McCaw. For the Vancouver-based novelist it is the continuation of a dream, and the fruit of years of working in a different creative realm.
McCaw’s deep understanding of compelling plots, widely appealing characters, natural dialogue and strong story arcs comes directly out of her early career in the film and television industry. McCaw’s skills as an observer started early when her family uprooted from the City to small town Ontario – and she became the classic fish out of water. Writing down her thoughts became an outlet as she scribbled her way through childhood, while she also developed her observational skills and visual eye with photography. A die-hard hockey fan, McCaw studied Cinematography at Humber College, and was headed for a career as a cameraperson covering professional sports when she landed an internship in a broadcasting services company.
McCaw excelled in the television distribution arena. She joined Thomas Howe & Associates and moved with that company to Vancouver, where she distinguished herself with her talent for identifying the right product for the right market, and her people-skills in negotiating contracts. After furthering her professional development with several high-profile Canadian entertainment companies, she parlayed her reputation as a leading Cable Programming specialist into her own boutique firm. Formed with a partner, Dark Horse Ent. specialized in finding, and selling, niche Canadian television series – entertainment, information and variety – around the Globe. McCaw also acted as an independent executive producer on award-winning television Classic Car series, CHROME DREAMS, and as a distributor for series including ENTRÉE TO ASIA, and AT HOME WITH HERBS.
In high demand as an insightful, humorous and engaging guest speaker, juror and analyst for festivals and trade forums around the country, McCaw also spent large amounts of time traveling abroad to television markets. Writing relieved the stress of constantly being on the road. Increasingly, she turned her main hobby into outlines for novels, and finished fleshing out the characters, plot and dialogue for OLIVIA’S MINE, a fictional account of a young bride’s struggle to make a life for herself against the backdrop of the disasters that hit Britannia Beach, British Columbia in the early 1900s. The book was released in 2006 and continues to be sold at the British Columbia Museum of Mining.
HELENS-OF-TROY was released early in 2012. McCaw is also currently developing eight other stories for novel form. All set on the Pacific North West and in Canada’s North, they include the murder mystery A LITTLE FIRST DEGREE, a feel-good trilogy THE INN AT HAZY WATERS (Northern Exposure meets Fantasy Island), and PUMPER an action romance that has already garnered interest as the basis for a feature film.
Fan video review: http://bit.ly/z9FqZ8
That Fantasy Blog review: http://bit.ly/zGGHJ9