Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and twentieth, is of cosy mystery and paranormal / historical writer and interviewee Helen Osterman. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Helen Osterman was born in Chicago Illinois to Italian parents, one of two children. She was a pensive child, her creative mind always making up stories. Born left hand dominant, she was forced to use her right hand. After much struggling, she became ambidextrous, learning to write and eat with her right hand and using her left for any activity requiring strength.
Helen was born to be a nurse. Her dolls were always sick awaiting a visit from the doctor. They made house calls at that time. Even the patient dog had a bandage on her leg.
If she wasn’t playing with her sister and friends, she had her nose buried in a book. Her best friend was a public library, two blocks from their home.
Helen was either conjuring up stories or drawing pictures. Later she became an accomplished artist. Four of her paintings of Old Maxwell Street are part of the permanent collection of the Chicago History Museum.
After graduating from Providence high school in the Garfield Park area of the city, she enrolled in a four-year nursing program — at St. Xavier College. It was one of the first colleges associated with Mercy Hospital that offered a Bachelor of Science Degree. Many years later she went on to earn a Masters Degree at Northern Illinois University.
Two years after graduation, she married and had five children. Through the years she worked at various community hospitals. The last 25 years of her working life she spent at a Veterans Hospital. During that time, she wrote many articles for Nursing and Medical Journals.
Before retiring, Helen took courses in creative writing. She wrote two books about a nurse, published by a small nurse run publisher. It was only after she retired that she became serious about writing and began her Emma Winberry cozy mystery series she is now working on the sixth book in this series Book number five, Locked Within was recently published by Oak Tree Press. In total, since 2002, she has written and published eight books.
And now from the author herself:
Why do writers right? It isn’t because we love to spend hours in front of the computer or money buying paper, toner, and ink cartridges. It isn’t because were antisocial. I write because I have to. The ideas pile up in my head and I must get them down on paper.
Since I never learned to type, I write my first draft longhand. I can’t create on a machine using the hunt and peck system with four fingers. I recently purchased a Dragon — voice recognition software. I take my handwritten pages and read them into a microphone. Miraculously the words appear on my computer. The downside is that I have to read in all the punctuation. Of course, when the word has more than one spelling, the Dragon makes up its own mind and usually prints the wrong one. After I make the corrections, I have a pretty clean manuscript.
I’m not one of these writers who outline the entire book chapter by chapter. I can’t, because most of the time I have no idea what will happen next. I usually have a beginning and an end, but my characters tell me the twists and turns of the middle pages. It’s an exciting journey and I love it. I keep scraps of paper in a folder with ideas that come to me at any hour of the day or night.
I do quite a bit of research for my books. I want all the facts to be accurate so I try to visit every area cited in the book.
For the Elusive Relation — number four in the Emma Winberry mystery series, I spent three weeks in London. It’s a great city, full of history and the public transportation system is excellent. The tube, as the underground is called, or the train took me wherever I wanted to go.
Since my youngest daughter lives in London, I didn’t have to pay for expensive hotels. I even spent a weekend in the village of Roydon where most of the story is set. The area dates back to the 16th century when King Henry V111 actually purchased a house for Ann Bolyn. When I needed information about police procedure, I phoned Scotland Yard. They were very obliging.
At present I’m writing number six in the series — Rogue Wave. Most of the book takes place in the Caribbean. Since my oldest son and his wife live on a 49-foot sailboat, I was able to experience firsthand the grandeur of sailing on the ocean. We even went through a near gale with 10-foot waves lashing against the boat. I took copious notes on that trip.
Next year — summer of 2014, my entire family will spend a week in a villa in Tuscany. Who knows what ideas that adventure will bring for the next book.
You can find more about Helen and her writing via…
- Her website: http://www.helenosterman.com
- And she is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/helen.osterman.7) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/Helen_MacieO).
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.