Today we are thrilled to bring you an interview with Helene Dunbar!
Boomerang is the story of Sean, a boy who everyone assumes was kidnapped when he was 12, but who really ran away. Five years later, Sean returns to his old home – not necessarily by choice – in order to try to claim a possibly mythical inheritance to save the boy he developed an intensely complicated relationship with while he was away.
He returns to find that nothing and no one is just as they were when he left and as his plans begin to crumble, so does everything he’s believed about his idyllic other life.
Helene Dunbar is the author of THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, WHAT REMAINS (Flux), BOOMERANG (Sky Pony 2018) and PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS (Sourcebooks 2019). Over the years, she’s worked as a drama critic, journalist, and marketing manager, and has written on topics as diverse as Irish music, court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter, and exists on a steady diet of readers’ tears.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
Aside from Judy Bloom, there were really no young adult books when I was a teen. At the time, I was actually very much into science fiction and fantasy. Harlan Ellison, Michael Moorcock, and Roger Zelazny were some of my favorites. Then I majored in English in college and, aside from plays and poetry, I really stopped reading for fun. It wasn’t until many years later that I read Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange and it pretty much blew my mind, because it opened my eyes to what happening in YA and what was possible. I’m not sure I ever would have tried to write fiction had I not read that book.
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
For a long time I wanted to be either a political reporter or a sports reporter, but then I got over it and pretty much everything I did in high school and college was in pursuit of a career as a drama critic. I love theater but I hate being on stage and I’m a pretty terrible actor, so I thought it would the perfect job. And it was. I was fortunate to work as a critic for a weekly newspaper in Chicago right after I graduated college, but there are only so many critic jobs out there and no one ever leaves, so I changed gears and ended up in marketing. My current day job is in internal communications for a healthcare company.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
My favorite book of all time is Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. And my favorite character in that book is Sebastian Flyte. I learned a lot from how Waugh wrote Sebastian’s character, never giving the reader (or the main character, Charles) quite enough of him. I kept this in mind a lot when I was writing the character of Trip in Boomerang. Although he and Sebastian are very, very different, I wanted them to share that same elusive quality. So I tried not to get into Trip’s head too deeply, and also gave him a little less page time than I really wanted to.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
I have a book coming out from Sourcebooks called PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS. It’s a paranormal that reads like a contemporary set in a town whose main business involves talking to the dead. The story revolves around two best friends: one the son of a powerful medium family who wants nothing more than to leave, and one who would do anything to become a member of the town’s tyrannical counsel. There is a Russian piano prodigy, a cursed musician, an enigmatic gay ghost, and lots of intensity.
Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?
My father reads every book looking for mentions of people he knows or things he likes. While I do add in little Easter eggs for him (for instance, there is usually a Frank Sinatra mention) he usually sees a ton of things that aren’t there.