Today we have Helene A. Leuschel, author of Manipulated Lives with us.
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London, and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga. Let’s know more about her and talk to her about her book and writing journey.
Welcome to our Blog Helene.
Tell us about yourself. Who is Helene A. Leuschel apart from an author of Manipulated Lives?
I grew up in Belgium where I gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. I love languages and enjoy traveling to discover other cultures and countries. I now live in Portugal with my husband and two children and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening my passion for the study of the mind. When I’m not writing, I work as a freelance journalist and teach Yoga.
What inspired you to write a book?
Manipulated Lives is my first published work of fiction and it is a collection of five novellas where I explore the core theme of psychological manipulation from five different perspectives. Each story aims to highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten a person’s feeling of self-worth. There are many excellent self-help books available, giving advice on how to deal with a controlling and manipulative individual as well as to understand why and how it can happen to anyone.
I felt more comfortable taking the matter into fictional territory though where I could explore it by creating characters of different ages and backgrounds so that the reader could think more deeply about the motivations behind narcissistic personality disorder. Each of the five stories can be read on their own but aim to show that, as an outsider, nothing is ever what it seems when dealing with a toxic manipulator.
Personal tragic circumstances and the completion of a couple of creative writing courses with the OU and Oxford University had made me pick up the pen, then transfer my ideas into the writing of this collection of novellas as well as fulfill my long-term dream of becoming an author.
I am currently in the process of finalizing my first novel as well as a sixth story that can be added to the theme explored in Manipulated Lives.
How much writing a book has changed you?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m not sure in what way writing a book has changed me but I certainly feel that it’s allowed me to at least attempt to honour all those people I have met over the years who have suffered from emotional abuse, who’ve felt lonely and desperate for too long yet deserved only love and the right to be treated with respect. I think books can change people’s lives and outlooks on things, especially the painful and confusing situations we can find ourselves in when encountering covert cunning behavior. I hope to have made a small contribution in that direction.
Your book has five stories. Which is that one story you feel most connected to and why?
I would say I’m most connected to Holly in Runaway Girl because I feel I still want to find out how she gets on in life, after Jamie, whether she does find the freedom she so yearns for and the courage to make her dreams come true. I’m determined to write a follow-up for this one, so watch this space 😊
Which is your favorite part of the writing process and why?
I love sitting down at my desk first thing in the morning, a steaming cup of tea sat next to the keyboard and letting the words flow onto the screen. It’s liberating, fun and very stimulating because although I put great emphasis on plausibility and realism, the world of fiction is like a wide-open world of possibilities where any setting and any character can come alive.
Which is your least favorite part of the writing process and why?
I would say that my least favorite part of the writing process is editing because once I have finished writing a story, I feel like leaning back and breathing a big sigh of relief, yet my work is not done yet. When I go back to the beginning again, I find mistakes that I didn’t expect finding, discrepancies that take me by surprise and I realize that working through the document is a painstaking exercise. It’s worth it though and vital to iron out anything that doesn’t make sense before the text goes to the editor.
What do you enjoy the most, working as a journalist or writing a book?
I’m at a stage of my life where writing books are more enjoyable than working as a journalist. It fits perfectly into our family life.
Any writing project you are currently working on?
I have finished the draft of my first novel and am currently finalizing my next novella which I would like to publish prior to the novel. It is a 6th story that could technically be included in my anthology Manipulated Lives.
How do you manage a work-life balance?
Our children are eleven and fifteen and they enjoy many activities, so as such they need me less than when they were small. I get to write when they are at school and I’ve learned to use various tools on my mobile and iPad that allow me to take notes when they come to my mind as well as continue writing when we are away.
Which author do you admire most and why?
Simone de Beauvoir has had a huge impact on me as a teenager and well into my twenties and thirties. She’s the only author whose books I can read again and again. I’ve read all of her writings – fiction and non-fiction alike but if there is one of them that I’d highly recommend to every reader, it would have to be A very easy death. In this short book, she tenderly and with shocking clarity recounts the last phase in her mother’s life. It’s so simple yet poignant, moving and very powerful in its message. The author shows with great honesty that when facing the death of a parent, emotions can not only take you by surprise but over-ride the urge to rationalize the process of dying.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
I earnestly think there is only one big advice that immediately springs to mind and that is WRITE. It may sound simple and easy but in truth, it’s not. If you decide to dedicate time each day to sit down and write (with a rough idea, a plan or even a detailed structure in mind), then you will see your work grow. Once completed, you’ll have to go back and face your worst inner enemy and that is as ruthless and critical as you can muster.
Final words to the readers of Manipulated Lives?
No matter how dark and twisted the human mind can be, there is a way to manage your own emotional resources after experiencing a traumatizing and damaging relationship and find healing and support.
Read Review of Manipulated Lives Here
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