In The Chair 70: Helen Mackinven

Welcome, Helen Mackinven.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Helen: Realistic. Insightful. Scottish.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Helen: I’d be Kirsty who is Julia’s best pal in Buy Buy Baby. Her feminist views are closest to mine so I would be able to play Kirsty’s part very easily. She challenges Julia about her obsession to have a baby and asks, ‘Is Project Baby the latest must-have accessory you need to complete an outfit?’ Kirsty finds it ridiculous that Julia feels her life is lacking because she isn’t a mum. I’m very fortunate to be the mother of two sons and wouldn’t want it any other way but I would like to believe I wouldn’t feel any less of a woman if for some reason I hadn’t been able to have a child.

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

HMK's picHelen: In Buy Buy Baby, my book follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby. But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…
Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive eBay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.
Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.
In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems and challenges them both to assess what price tag they would you put on a baby.
I’d be Dan in my book because even although I wrote the story, I don’t know what Dan’s motivations were for ‘helping’ them. I’d love to know if he’s a good guy deep-down or a master manipulator who uses and abuses their trust in him for his own financial gain.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

e9bc1c7d85b2d8f9f3c487bc67d6c12b-1Helen: As a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction I feel it’s important for me to read within my own genre and I admire writers such as Janice Galloway, Jackie Kay, Anne Donovan, Kerry Hudson, Christopher Brookmyre, Damian Barr, Isla Dewar, Karen Campbell and Margot McCuaig (I’m fortunate to count both Karen and Margot as my real life friends) but I’d also make room at the table for a couple of my favourite Irish writers like Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe and Maggie O’Farrell. I’m a ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ type but thankfully my hubby loves cooking and makes amazing meals so I’d ask him to serve one of his signature dishes like his tasty wild mushroom risotto. He also does a gorgeous creamy cauliflower soup and a very sweet banoffee pie that would make my leader at Weight Watchers weep.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Helen: Children’s fiction. I dabbled with notes and ideas when my sons were nippers and fancied the idea of writing stories for them. I had a character called Cheeky the monkey who got up to all sorts of adventures with his jungle pals. But I never took it further than that which is maybe just as well as I often use sweary words in my writing so I’m safer sticking with adult fiction rather than creating a foul-mouthed monkey.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Helen: Spending hours hunched over a laptop which does nothing for my back and also I end up with a sore wrist if I type too much. Also, as I’m not able to touch type, so for me to ‘write’ a manuscript of 80K+ words takes much longer than it would if I had mastered the skill of hundreds of words a minute.



Favourite word? Helen: I love Scottish words and phrases but if I had to pick only one I’d probably choose ‘wee’ as my favourite, maybe because I’m only 5 foot tall.

Helen Mackinven was in the chair, author of: Buy Buy Baby and Talk of the Toun. Web:

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