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Sunday, August 14, 2016

An interview with author Helene Leuschel

Welcome, Helene. Thanks for joining me here on my blog.  What should my readers know about you?
It’s a pleasure to join you on your blog.

I was born in Brussels of German parents and grew up believing that languages open the door to other cultures, to people and I now know that it really is a great way to step outside the idea of national identity and its many restrictions. I have lived in London and Edinburgh and was lucky that my job as a reporter and producer allowed me to travel extensively worldwide until I met the love of my life. We moved to Belgium together for a few years, then decided to take our two children to live in Southern Portugal where life is so much simpler, healthier and laid back than in a big city. That’s where I learnt yet another language, found more time again to write, pick up the study of philosophy and eventually the project of my first work of fiction. I love the written word ever since I started reading as a child, devouring Enid Blyton’s books.  

What inspired you to begin writing Manipulated Lives? 

During the studies for my MA in Philosophy, I developed a keen interest for psychology, the philosophy of mind and more specifically the human capacity for empathy. Personal tragic circumstances (a close relative has been the victim of psychological abuse for almost two decades) and the completion of a couple of creative writing courses with the OU and Oxford University have eventually made me pick up a pen and transfer my ideas into the writing of this collection of novellas. Manipulators are everywhere and to some extent we all do use manipulative tools to reach our goals. It is a survival skill but one that if present in a narcissistic and perverted individual who lacks the capacity for empathy is dangerous for all those who get in contact with them.

Why did you focus on this genre?

There are many fantastic publications out there explaining narcissistic personality disorders already. What I wished to achieve with my fives stories is to make readers think about the idea that nothing is ever what it seems. Our capacity to interpret fellow human beings may be successful most of the times and helps us navigate through social life. Yet, when we are in the presence of a manipulative individual with a perversion, it’s a very different ballgame.

Are you working on any other books?

Yes, I am currently working on a second collection, themed around a different topic. I am also working on my first novel.

Okay, here's a challenge. Sum up your current book in TWO sentences.

My book is exploring the impact of psychological manipulation on people of different ages and backgrounds. The five novellas are separate yet each aims to take the reader to question the idea that nothing is ever what it seems at first sight. 

Where can people buy your book?

Readers can find my book in kindle format or as a paperback on all online Amazon sites.

What are the 3 words that best describe you?
That’s a difficult question. I had to ask my family and they said: outgoing, observant & inquisitive

What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?

I am a trained yoga teacher, practice mediation and I love writing philosophical essays.

What would people be most surprised to see on your Kindle or bookshelf?

Maybe they’d be surprised to see Jeffrey Archer’s Prison Diaries and a beginner’s textbook to learn Chinese.

How about your playlist?

I actually don’t have one. I’m a radio girl, so the music comes on as soon as I sit in a car.

I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favourite songs.

I don’t really have favourites but on top of my head I would say, I’d love to listen to the following three right now.
Sade’s ‘By your side’
Imagine Dragon’s ‘On top of the world’
Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the world’

What song best describes your life?

Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ because I am a happy person most of the time.

In the story of your life, who would you like to play you?

Juliette Binoche is my favourite actress, so I guess I’d like her to be the one …

Who is the person, living or dead, you would most like to spend a day with?

It’s difficult to decide on just one …I guess, spontaneously, I would like to spend a day with Simone de Beauvoir. She was a philosopher and writer with a passion for hiking. So, I’d take her to the Monchique hills in the Algarve with a picnic introducing her to local Portuguese specialties. We’d walk along the many lonely paths and I’d have enough questions to fill the silence that would surround us.

Finally, what’s next for you? 

I have two books planned, one with my second collection of short stories and the other a novel.

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