Helen Watts Author

Helen Watts

Helen's top three writing tips:

1. Write every day so it becomes as natural to you as speaking.

2. Read lots, of course. Learn from what other people do.

3. Get out of the house. Take an interest in the world around you. Visit places, watch people and never be afraid to ask questions.

Ask the author

Is there anything you would like to ask Helen? She is happy to answer any questions you have about her writing, her books, her life and career or her likes and dislikes. Email your questions and Helen will do her best to answer them as quickly as possible. All replies will be posted here.

Beth, Coventry:

You came to visit my school on Wednesday. I was amazed at how that day in Oradour touched your heart and how it led you to finding out deeper. Unfortunately you didn't have time to answer my Question. My Question is ....... If you were the solider would you have let Alfred go?

A: Dear Beth

Thank you for your email. It is lovely to hear that you enjoyed the session. I enjoyed it too. I am sorry that there wasn't time for you to ask your question - especially as it is such a good one! (I think it might have won the free book!)
It's a difficult question to answer for several reasons. Firstly because I would hope that if I were the soldier, little Roger (Alfred in my book) would never have been in that situation in the first place. I would never have wanted to hurt innocent people. But, presuming that I were the real German commander, I guess the answer - sadly - is no. He had no hesitation in murdering all those women and children in the church so I don't think he would have cared about killing one more. There was another SS soldier who did let Roger run for freedom later on, but he doesn't feature in my story because I wanted to focus on the one commander and his actions.
For the reasons why my fictional version of the commander acted as he did, you will have to read my book as to tell you now would spoil the surprises - but let me just say that there is a twist in the tale! If you do read the book, I would love to hear what you think of it and what your thoughts were on the way I depict that key scene in the cornfield.
Once again, thanks for a great question! Keep reading!

Elisha, age 13, Stratford-upon-Avon

What made you want to be a writer?

A: Dear Elisha

I love making up stories. I always have. Even as a little girl I used to create scenarios with my toys. I ran an imaginary school and all my teddies, dolls, gonks etc were my pupils. I would take the register several times a day, and act out all kinds of storylines with them. 
When I was older and able to write, I used to copy out poems from my Mum’s old collections of classic poetry – works by poets like Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shakespeare and Christina Rossetti - and I would decorate them with pictures and pretty borders. I was too young to understand what all the poems meant, but I loved copying the words and I loved the look and feel of the books they came from.
I was always a good lettter writer, too. Whenever my Mum and Dad went out and left me with a babysitter, I would write letters to them, telling them what I had been up to while they were gone – usually telling tales about my big sister or apologising (in advance) for something naughty I had done! I remember once apologising for an ornament that I had knocked off the mantlepiece. I went on and on about how sorry I was, and even drew a circle where one of my tears fell on the notepaper just to prove it! It's all a little embarrassing now, but I suppose it shows that even at that age, I was beginning to understand how powerful - and persuasive - written words could be.
Then when I got bigger, I loved writing stories at school. English was one of my favourite subjects. I loved it when we were set the challenge of making up a story, and would always read what I had written to my Mum, who was very encouraging. 
So there was clearly a passion for stories - and for writing - which grew and grew as I got older, and I have an insatiable appetite for reading.
I worked as an editor for many years, commissioning and shaping other people’s books, and I have always wanted to find the time to write my own. I dabbled with shorter works – poems, short stories, pieces of non-fiction and news writing, that kind of thing, but until recently I never had the opportunity to set time aside for a longer project. In the end, it took a change of job, and a big decision to block out two months of my time and dedicate them to writing, to enable me to produce a first draft of One Day In Oradour. Now I've started, there's no stopping me!