Aussie Guest Post: Helene Young chats about her protagonist in Half Moon Bay

Today Helene Young, one of my fave romantic suspense authors has stopped by to chat about her much anticipated fourth novel, Half Moon Bay.

Eleanor Wilding in Half Moon Bay

Lauren, it’s lovely to be a visitor on your blog. I’ve discovered many new authors in the last year through your great reviews so thank you!

I’m in the middle of writing my next book and that’s making me reflect on what it is I enjoy in the writing process. A large part is the cast of characters and the insights into their lives that emerge through the story.

I love characters that have some angst in their lives because I can relate to them. My life is overloaded, stressful and messy at times. I have days when I’d love to give in to a good old-fashioned tantrum (but since I’m no longer two I’d look ridiculous so I refrain…). There are days when life is overwhelmingly sad or frustratingly complicated. But there are also days when I want to weep because life can be so beautiful, so unexpectedly generous and giving. There are days when I can’t help but be moved by the human spirit, by the world we live in, by the kindness of strangers.

I love finding those moments in my characters’ lives. I usually start writing a new story with a strong sense of at least one protagonist. Half Moon Bay was Ellie’s story from the very outset. I wanted to explore how a photographer views the world and, more particularly, how a war correspondent stays sane dealing with the horror they capture in images.

Ellie finds herself in the middle of a battle, not just for Half Moon Bay, but for her own survival. All the evidence suggests that the night Nina, her sister, died in Afghanistan holds the key. Ellie has no other option but to search for the truth, no matter the cost. She’s confronted by lies and half-truths at every turn.

What keeps her grounded is the love of old friends, the feel of the ocean on her skin and the unwavering love of her dog, Shadow.

Ellie’s reserved, a behind the lens kind of woman. She loves the simple things in life, to ride a surfboard, walk on the beach, and listen to Missy Higgins. She doesn’t see herself as strong or adventurous, but finds an inner strength when she needs it. She believes it is possible to make a difference against the odds. She believes that truth will prevail.  Above all else she’s an optimist. Her glass is half-full, there are silver linings on those storm clouds. But she’s wary of love and weary of lies.

Finding a hero who could overcome that wariness was the tricky part. Luckily a battle-scarred soldier stepped up to the plate, but that’s a discussion for another day 🙂

And if I could choose an actress to play Ellie? Rachael Taylor would be my pick!

Rachael Taylor
Rachael Taylor

So what sort of characters do you enjoy reading about? Someone like yourself or someone completely removed from your real world? Leave a comment to go into the running for a signed copy of Half Moon Bay.

And thanks again, Lauren for having me over for a chat!

half moon bay

Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home.  As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?

Find Helene at her website, Facebook & Twitter


  • Awesome post Helene 🙂

    I like reading about characters that I can relate to, even if it’s just in some tiny way. Sometimes the way I relate to a character surprises me – we might have nothing in common but there turns out to be something that I connect with. Remote characters, or those without flaws that are too perfect (or on the other hand, too stupid to live) tend to alienate me and I find it really difficult to engage with the book overall.

    Hope the holiday is going well Lauren!

  • Lol, Breem the ‘too stupid to live’ heroine is thankfully becoming a rare character indeed. Perfect characters can still suck me in but I suspect I don’t connect with as strongly as I do with those that are a lot more flawed.

    Thanks for dropping by 🙂 I’m having fun camping out on Lauren’s blog while she’s on her Honeymoon!

    • I think it’s quite hard to have a believable blend of bravery and vulnerability as well. I like to feel I can put myself in a characters shoes and make the choices that they make (although quite often I am a chicken and would run away, not towards the danger!). I also like to look at how MC’s relate to other characters, particularly the hero if it’s a romance (and a large portion of what I read has a romantic element)…..

      But that’s a whole different post now 😀

      Hope you enjoy your events in WA!

    • You’ve done a great job of looking after my blog Helene, thank you! Some great comments about connecting to characters.

      I finished Half Moon Bay during the first week of my honeymoon and I loved it! Ellie was a great character- determined, passionate and vulnerable- and a great heroine. I’ll get my review up in a couple of weeks when I’m back 🙂

  • Oops, where that that stray ‘m’ come from on your name, Bree!! Sorry about that I’m typing in a hurry just before heading to the airport and Perth!

  • I love reading about characters with similar issues to mine and someone I can relate to and connect with and enjoy their journey like as if it was written about me. I want to imagine while I’m reading that this person is a friend and by the end of the book to feel sad that I am losing someone that became important, when a person I don’t even know has the power to keep me engaged with their humour and wit while enduring adversity. But to read a character that is totally unlike myself is also exciting and refreshing and can educate you in ways you never imagined possible.

    • Sue, that’s lovely. I know as a writer I grieve a little bit when I finish a story because it’s almost like leaving good friends behind. There’s the excitement of the new characters but still I miss my old ones for quite some time!

  • Hi Helene, I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive, but reading this post makes me want to read Half Moon Bay even more!
    Like Sue, I like to be able to connect with characters – it can be hard if there’s nothing at all in common, though that can also be interesting because of the insights you otherwise wouldn’t have. I do struggle when I don’t like the character at all and therefore don’t want to get into their head!

    • That’s interesting writenote that you also enjoy the insights from characters who may be very different to you. I think I enjoy that as well particularly if they work in a field I know nothing about.

      Hope that copy arrives soon!!

  • I love strong characters, characters that have a sense of humour, but can “get the job done”, and I love Ellie’s character! But Helene, Rachael Taylor is not at all how I imagined Ellie to be!
    Great post, and enjoy your book tour!

  • HI Brenda, glad you love Ellie. I struggled to find an actress I thought was appropriate so I’d love to hear your suggestions! Originally I had Steph Gilmour – Australia’s world champion surfer – and she’s probably a better fit 🙂

  • This is a great post, Helene! Thanks for sharing.

    As for characters, I think I like ones that have elements of me in them but they need to be strong women who don’t necessarily need a man to assist them but maybe a little bit of help is nice. They have to be believable, likable and down to earth.

  • Thanks for dropping by, Sharon! I think the day of the heroine who’s ‘too stupid to live’ are thankfully long gone 🙂 As you say it’s nice to be able to accept a helping hand occasionally, but our women don’t need a man to solve their problems.

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