Most Thursdays in 2019 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today's interview is with Helen Brown
Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
My parents were Salvation Army Officers until I was 10 years old. My dad then returned to his first employment love, farming. Moving around as many times as we did, means that I don’t really feel like I came from anywhere in particular. I was born in Mt Isa, North Queensland but I always felt that my roots were in Inverell, New South Wales, because both my parents spent a good part of their childhood there. This is where my parents met and fell in love. My dad’s parents lived there all their lives. Having such a rich spiritual background means that I have always known the love of God in my life and my relationship with Him as developed slowly over the years from birth to now.
Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?
My writing career started almost accidently, except that God doesn’t do anything by accident. I started out doing the occasional Newssheet article for our Church bulletin at the request of our minister. After about a year I realised that I could turn it into a book, that was my first book, Turning Water into Wine. These articles are where God has challenged me with something ordinary that has a spiritual lesson for me, and through my six books, others as well.
Over the last couple of years, I have been writing my first novel, but I have to say I’m not sure what God wants to do with that. It may be that it’s just a stepping stone to another venture. I have discovered that my sister is a very talented fiction writer and we, my daughter, Wendy Wood, and I are planning on releasing that one of her books on September 4th. This date is significant as it’s the anniversary of our Mother’s arrival in Heaven and it’s a way to acknowledge the importance that she had to both of us.
Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
I know very few people who have read my work by name; however, I know one gentleman found that one of my stories about looking up in Turning Water into Wine, helped him while he was changing a light bulb. It doesn’t seem like a great big spiritual thing but even such small things are important to God and He can use whatever He likes for whatever purpose He deems necessary. It seems it was important enough for this man to mention it to my mother.
Who would I like to read my work, Oh, my goodness that is such a loaded question? My articles were, initially designed to encourage Christians each Sunday, and that is the main purpose of my work but it would also be great if God enabled those outside the church to at least start asking questions about their relationship with God through my books.
Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
The process of writing for me is usually when I am inspired by some small incident, comment, question or when the devil has a real go at me over something I’m struggling with. So, there is usually quite a lot of prayer before and during the thinking stage. The biggest challenge I face is finding the time to write. Like most people in regional Australia we are in the middle of the biggest drought this country has seen since records started and as we live on a farm that means that I have to be a hands-on partner. The work is never ending, thankless and discouraging. You could say that most of what I write is messages to myself, reminding me of the faithfulness of God when everything looks dire.
Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
I don’t have one, sorry.
Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
Jo’Anne Griffiths, I had the real privilege of meeting Jo some years ago while I was at a church conference in Sydney and we have been trying to make it an annual event. Sadly, neither of us could make it happen this year but we will try again next year. Jo has been a great encourager for me and edited by latest book, Still More Water into Wine. She did an amazing job and is currently looking at the first part of my novel. I’m am so grateful that God bought this wonderful woman into my circle of friends.
Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?
This year I am trying to get my novel finished, as previously stated its been in the pipeline for a couple of years now, however, I’m not sure where God wants to take it yet. With the grace of God, I pray that I will be able to publish more of my sister’s stories but the year is so close to the end that I’m think we will run out of time. Yes, just blink and Christmas will be here.
Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
My writing would not have even started without my faith, so it goes hand in hand. The challenge for me is to make sure that I am writing for the right reasons, not personal or financial. This last motivation is very difficult for me as having a second income that is not animal or drought affected is very important for us at present. There are no other jobs going around in the bush now.
Born in Mount Isa, the eldest of five children of Salvation Army officers, Helen Brown lived an almost nomadic life until she was fifteen years of age. However, she discovered books as a preteen and read a lot, well into the night and occasionally all night. Two stories that captured her imagination were “Anne of Green Gables” and Little Women”. Just like the heroines in these stories she wanted to write. A learning disability, which was not corrected until she was in her thirties, meant that schooling was a real struggle. It also meant that her dream seemed to be a distant mirage. The struggles of raising five children and being a wife to a shearer/farmer in a small town taught her a lot about life and the grace of God. During this time, she also completed her teaching degree and worked many casual jobs in order to ensure that the farm was viable. Today, she still lives on the farm in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales.