Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French

Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong. Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers. And yet… There was something …

A question for Helen French

Q: What’s easier for you – imagining a happier world, or a darker one?

A: It’s easier for me to imagine a darker world – but I’d much rather imagine a happier one. I like my stories, whether I’m writing or reading them, to have at least a glimmer of hope within them, though that can be tough in the very shortest of shorts.

I enjoy all sorts of fiction, and I don’t shy away from exploring dark worlds. But I think that even the darkest, grimmest landscape can contain moments of joy or happiness or kindness.

Isn’t that what we see all around us? Yes, there are lots of horrible things going on in the world, and it sometimes feels like nothing but doom and gloom, but when it comes both fiction and real life I like to hope there’s a chance that tomorrow will be a better day. Or that if it isn’t, I will find joy in a small part of it.

Writing a happier world can be tough – is such a world going to be solid and believable? Not everything can be fixed. But writing happy moments is usually achievable, though they may not suit every story.

Writing darkness is usually easier, I just don’t want to linger in it for too long.


Helen French’s story “Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 18 January 2019.
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About Helen French

Helen French is a writer, book hoarder, TV-soaker-upper, digital project executive and biased parent who grew up in Merseyside and now lives in Hertfordshire, UK. You can find her on Twitter at @helenfrench.


Helen French’s story “Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 18 January 2019.
Subscribe now for e-mail updates!