Interview with Helen Hiorns

“It’s the first thing they teach you when you start school. But they don’t need to; your parents tell you when you’re first learning how to say your name. It’s drummed into you whilst you’re taking your first stumbling steps. It’s your lullaby. From the moment it first appears, you don’t tell anyone the name on your wrist.”

In Corin’s world, your carpinomen – the name of your soul mate, marked indelibly on your wrist from the age of two or three – is everything. It’s your most preciously guarded secret; a piece of knowledge that can give another person ultimate power over you. People spend years, even decades, searching for the one they’re supposed to be with.

But what if you never find that person? Or you do, but you just don’t love them? What if you fall for someone else – someone other than the name on your wrist?

And what if – like Corin – the last thing in the world you want is to be found?

From the winner of the first Sony Young Movellist Award, chosen from over 120 entries from teenage writers by a panel of judges from online writing platform Movellas, Random House, the Reading Agency, and Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, RHCP is proud to be publishing The Name On Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns.

The Name On Your Wrist received a lot of praise, did you read the reviews? How did they make you feel?
Yeah, I’ve definitely been stalking my reviews. I only realised a couple of weeks ago that Goodreads posts on my facebook every time I like a review, so for months everyone’s been able to see me liking reviews on my own book… and there’s been a couple of times when people have borrowed my phone and mocked me for having Amazon and Goodreads tabs continually open on my book, just in case a review appears. Whoops.
I’m actually amazed by how lovely the overall response has been, though, and every new review has left me grinning like an idiot all day long. It’s pretty amazing to know that people have read your story and actually enjoyed it.

What’s the scariest thing about your journey so far?
I think one of the scariest moments for me was reading my contract for the first time. I was in a tent in Slovenia at the time (which happened to have wifi), which meant the whole experience felt very surreal.
I was reading out all these clauses to two of my best friends and thinking about the fact that this was an actual contract. I definitely felt like I was missing a few qualifications in adult.
Other than that, the scariest thing is that people I know now have access to my writing. I’ve been writing online for a long time now, so having people read my work isn’t exactly new, but the idea that anyone, from my parents to my old teachers, could read my book if they wanted to is… strange.

And the best?
Oh, it’s all been incredible. Ever since I fell in love with writing I’ve been telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I never have an actual book, or make any money from writing, or if anyone reads a single sentence I’ve ever penned… as long as I can make some time to write, I could be happy. And then after all that effort moderating my dreams to make them a bit more realistic, I published a book at nineteen! It’s insane!
There’s also been a few times it’s been really fun to pull out the published card. A lot of people tend to look down on my choice of degree because it’s not sciency, and then when I throw out that I want to be a writer as well people generally think yeah right. Over the summer, I was subjected to that thing where adults ask you about your future and then judge your answer. It was really fun to go actually, yeah, I had my first book published this summer. It stopped him going on about how my degree doesn’t lead into a career, anyway!

What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
Oh, this is interesting. Although, I’m not sure I’ve noticed all that many differences beyond a lack of Us and a lack of cups of tea. And they don’t call their underwear pants in US young adult books.
Also, America doesn’t have real biscuits.
(I’m sorry, that’s really not very insightful).

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
Other than the movellas competition, I’ve always been hideously unlucky and a general disaster. In my first month of uni last year, I managed to try to attend a seminar in a men’s toilet, accidentally throw my underwear at a locksmith and have a bus driver shut a door on my head.  One of my friends had been saying that I was due to win the lottery to balance it all out. We’ve since figured that this counts as my lottery win.
Although, actually, I think most people who’ve met me have picked up on that one pretty fast.

Quickfire round

Tea or coffee?
OH. Coffee in the morning or from a coffee shop, tea the rest of the time.

Can you recommend a good book to read?
I’ve always been completely in love with A Fraction of a Whole, by Steve Toltz. I can’t even explain why… it just seemed to have all the bits and pieces I love about books all in one.

You can have one superpower, what would you like?
I’d like a Bernard’s Watch type ability to stop time. I could pause time for a few hours every time my alarm went off in the morning, so I could stay for in bed as long as I liked… and actually have enough time to have breakfast and to watch the news.
Then, on all those occasions I’d really like to write things, or read things, but can’t because of uni work and that pesky thing called real life, I could just pause time for a little while and get everything I wanted to get done done.
I’d probably still procrastinate like crazy, though.

What word describes you best?
I asked my best friend about this one. She said ‘indescribable’ whilst I settled on ‘unsure’. After much discussion and a few slight insults, I’m going with unusual (whilst I think Bestie is going with quirky).

And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
What’s the difference between writing fanfiction and original fiction? I’ve been writing both for years and I love writing both equally, but they are really quite different. I know there are obvious things like the fact that you’re borrowing characters and worlds, but fanfiction has this whole completely different set of conventions that I find fascinating. With fanfiction, you can do away with plots and have big sections of pretty imagery, have massive casts of hundreds of characters and carry on for 100s of chapters with nothing much happening… and people love it. If you did the same with original fiction, no one would keep reading. There’sdifferent rules and such you have to stick to. It’s possibly a mark of the levels of which I need to get a life, but I find it fascinating.

helen+hiornsHelen Hiorns is now twenty and is studying Philosophy at Sheffield University. She has been writing online for about six years, and was backpacking around Europe with friends when she found out her novel The Name on Your Wrist had been selected as the winner of the first Sony Young Movellist of the Year Award.

My review of The Name On Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns

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