In the world of Twilight fanfiction, there are stories that are known as “biggies.” Clipped Wings & Inked Armor is definitely one of them. So when it was announced that it was going to be published, Kitt and I were excited for the author and for the chance to watch her mainstream career take flight. (See what we did there?) Helena is also one of those authors who is very appreciative of her fans and approachable on Twitter. You’re going to love her and her words if you don’t already. Speaking of her words…
F2F: First of all, thank you for agreeing to this Q&A and for giving us the opportunity to do an audiobook giveaway of Clipped Wings. We’re thrilled to be a small part of this next step in your journey.
HH: It really is a pleasure! Thank you for inviting me to chat!
F2F: When you wrote the original Clipped Wings & Inked Armor as Twilight fanfiction, was it just something you did for fun or had you always wanted to be a writer?
HH: When I started Clipped Wings & Inked Armor back in 2009, I was taking a break from another piece I was writing. I inadvertently stumbled across fanfic (I’m not sure there’s any other way for that to happen). After reading several stories, I thought it would be interesting to write one of my own. I just wanted to see if I could write something people would want to read. I’ve always written, however, the vast majority of my stories are packed away in boxes in my basement. Until CW&IA, I’d kept my writing very private. That story changed things. (A/N: We’re so glad it did!)
F2F: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers hoping to get published?
HH: Edit. Edit. Edit. And outline. I had a very loose working outline for CW&IA when I started writing it way back when. I was about six chapters into the rewrite when my very patient, kind, reasonable friend Alex put the brakes on and encouraged me to flesh out an outline. It took about a month. I sucked at it. But eventually I got to the point where I had a very tight outline for both Clipped Wings and Inked Armor. After that, the writing process was much smoother.
I encourage writers to find crit partners and to set aside the fear of cutting scenes or chapters if they disrupt the flow of the story. In the case of CW&IA, I cut out about half the book. I was extraordinarily fortunate to have a group of women from The Writers’ Collective (here) work with me on three manuscripts. By the time we got to IA, we were all very comfortable with the process. A first draft is just that…a first draft. The hard work comes after.
F2F: Speaking of getting published, how did you celebrate once you got the acceptance news?
With tears of joy and some wine. My agent Brooks and I spent nearly a year on submission and in that time I’d rewritten the entire story. There were definitely some moments when I questioned whether it would ever happen. I took the story from 430k down to roughly 225k. It was challenging, but being able to hold the book in my hands makes it worth it.
F2F: Transitioning from fanfic gave you the freedom to pick new character names. Is there any significance in choosing Hayden and Tenley?
I picked the name Hayden Stryker long before I started the rewrite. It just fit his character. Stryker always makes me think of lightning, which is reflective of Hayden. He’s electric, severe, intense. I wanted his name to reveal that about him.
Tenley’s name is unusual, and so are her circumstances. Tenley is a unique individual – her trauma, her experiences, who she becomes during the story. I wanted her name to embody that about her. And I thought it was quirky and cool, so I ran with it.
F2F: Hayden and Tenley have deeply personal issues to overcome, issues that both help and get in the way of their growing relationship. You write their struggle so beautifully. How did their story come to you? Which character was in your head first?
HH: Their story developed as a result of events that occurred which stuck with me. A groom and groomsmen were in a limo on their way to the wedding. A tractor trailer jackknifed and everyone died, leaving a devastated bride at the altar. That kind of trauma would leave deep scars. It made me question how someone could move on from such deep emotional wounds.
I suppose that indirectly answers the next question. Tenley’s trauma was the inception, but Hayden was the one I developed first. With his own traumatic past and his poor coping skills, he was the one person who could understand and relate to Tenley in a way others might not. She was the catalyst for a change that had been coming long before her arrival in his life. The body modification acted as the vehicle for connection and healing, within and between them.
F2F: What made you decide to write the prequel novella Cupcakes and Ink as opposed to a sequel? Or can fans also look forward to a sequel novella? (hint, hint)
HH: Cupcakes and Ink was an opportunity to explore Tenley and Hayden’s frame of mind just prior to meeting. Tenley is running from a past she can’t escape and she’s in such a dark, lonely place. Hayden is on the cusp of change. Neither one of them knows what’s coming until it hits them.
If you’re referring to Cracks in the Armor, it’s about secondary characters in CW & IA 🙂 I don’t have a sequel planned for Hayden and Tenley after Inked Armor, but I’d love to write Chris and Sarah’s story.
F2F: We really love the unique covers. Did you have any input into designing them?
HH: I sure did! I had lots of ideas for the covers, and I passed them over to the art team at S&S. They did such a fabulous job turning those initial ideas into gorgeous artwork. I love the juxtaposition between the covers for Clipped Wings and Inked Armor. It’s such a reflection of the light and dark.
F2F: We’re thrilled that Clipped Wings is also available as an audiobook! How involved were you in the process?
HH: My involvement was limited, but I adore Jason Carpenter’s and Elizabeth Louise’s voices for Hayden and Tenley. Hayden’s voice is so deadpan, and it makes me smile every time I hear it. (A/N: I read the ARC, but as a self-professed audiobook addict, I will definitely be doing a “reread” by listening to the audiobook! -Lisa)
F2F: If your fics were to one day be turned into flicks, who do you envision in the lead roles?
HH: This is a question I’ve pondered at length. Midian from SMIBooks brought my attention to a tatted up model named Stephen James who is absolutely gorgeous. If he was an actor, I’d put him in the role in a heartbeat. As for Tenley, Imogen Poots is gorgeous and well suited for the role.
F2F: Are you working on any other projects you can share with us? We know the Twilight fandom will want to know if The Misapprehension of Bella Swan will ever be published, for example.
HH: That is a project I’d love to work on! I’m hoping it’s one of the next I get to tackle. I already have names for those characters and they make me giggle. I have another completed manuscript ready to roll and I’m very much hoping I get to write Chris and Sarah’s story, because I love those characters. So yes, I have a few potential projects! (A/N: Very exciting news!)
F2F: Do you have any book signings/appearances coming up so fans can get out to meet you?
F2F: Congrats on the debut of Clipped Wings, and we wish you nothing but continued success as you find new readers!
HH: Thank you so much for making this a stop on the blog tour!
Their body art is hot. Their chemistry is even hotter.
From her dark hair sweeping below her waist to her soft, sexy curves, Tenley Page intrigues tattoo artist Hayden Stryker in a way no one else ever has…especially when she asks him to ink a gorgeous, intricate design on her back. Yet for all her beauty, there is something darkly tragic and damaged about Tenley that Hayden is everything.
Covered in ink and steel, Hayden is everything Tenley has never dared to want, awakening a desire to explore more than the art adorning his stunning body. Trapped by a past that leaves her screaming from nightmares, Tenley sees Hayden as the perfect escape. Although he has secrets too, if they both keep themselves guarded perhaps their intense physical connection will remain only that.
But nothing, not even passion, can keep them safe from their pasts…
Thanks to Gallery Books, we were fortunate enough to get an ARC of Clipped Wings to read in exchange for an honest review. But honestly? We already knew we were going to love it 🙂
For those of you who love your book boyfriend to be a tatted up bad boy with a big heart, you’re going to freaking love Hayden. For those of you who don’t think you would love your book boyfriend to be a tatted up bad boy with a big heart, you’re going to freaking love Hayden. And you’re going to love the way he helps Tenley tear down the wall she built to protect her heart and, in so doing, tears down his own.
With alternating POVs, Helena Hunting takes you on an emotional journey with these characters, and you will never look at tattoos (or cupcakes!) the same way again. The way she understands how deeply personal the art of ink is, and how that understanding creates so much intimacy between Hayden and Tenley, will take your breath away. These two have a long way to go to reconcile their hearts with their minds, but their souls have already started to fill in the outline.
LINKS TO PURCHASE
Excerpt, Clip 1:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s putting her degree in English Lit to good use by writing contemporary erotic romance.