Helene Lund Den Boer may be a newer face on the local author circuit, but as a writer she has been scribbling for a lifetime. “I always enjoyed writing, even as a child,” said Helene. “Little poems and small text pieces. But I was definitely a visual artist first. It wasn’t really until I began making my felt illustrations, that I started writing for children.”
Her felt illustrations, featured in her first book,“Tilda and the Tooth Fairy,” began as decorations for her new daughter. “Initially I was sewing felt figures as a mobile for my baby girl,” said Helene. “But the universe expanded, new felt characters arrived on the scene, and stories about them started to develop in my head. And I had to write them down.”
Helene published her second book, “Long Live Luna,” last December. Using the same style of illustrations, “Long Live Luna” follows the life of a doll as it’s passed through the generations from mother to daughter.
Although in her past Helene has had plenty of highlight moments, such as having her paintings accepted by juried shows in her home country of Denmark, she says holding her new book in her hands has been as big a thrill. “But even bigger,” said Helene.“Is when a kid comes up to me and says ‘I like your book – it’s so funny.’ Then it doesn’t get any better!”
One of the biggest challenges, says Helene, is marketing her work. “As a self published author, it is a huge challenge to get the book out in the world, to make it visible. The competition in children’s picture books is fierce, and you have to come up with some creative ways of advertising. I recently teamed up with a local business for a book signing, and that was both fun and successful for both parts, so I’d like to do that again. It is hard to go around advertising for your own product, but I hope I get better with time and experience. On the positive side of self publishing, it is great to be entirely in control of your book. It is exactly the way you intended it.”
Her main goal, however, is to simply create good stories that will become favorites. She has another book in mind already, but she has another project she has to finish before publishing again. “Currently I am finishing up a series of greeting cards, in the same illustration style,” said Helene.“And then I have an idea for a new book in my head that I look forward to start working on in early fall.” Helene’s advice to other writers?
“Still very new in this field, I don’t feel I have a lot of advice to give. If anything, I’d say I think it is very important to read/look at other people’s work, in the field you write in. Do research, ask yourself what you think works, and what doesn’t. And keep writing, if that’s what makes you happy. For me personally, creating stories and playing with the connection between words and pictures, gives me tremendous happiness. It’s almost therapeutic to me.”
“Tilda and the Tooth Fairy” is available on Amazon.com, but can also be ordered at Barnes & Noble. Locally it can be found at Artful Things in Niceville. More information and news about her work can be found at StoriesOnAString.com.
Originally published in the Panhandle Focus, July 2016.