IF YOU HAVE A DREAM KEEP REACHING FOR IT
Once Helen starting writing, she just couldn’t stop.
I’ve finally done it. Written and published No Place to Lie, my debut memoir about family secrets: the truth behind my younger brother’s death in 1981 and the hidden secret that my mother took to her grave.
I wrote it as a real page-turner – readers will get to ‘see’ the story from different angles as well as gain an insight into the legal case surrounding my brother’s death from the actual court evidence filed at the time.
I had to wait for 40 years because both of my parents needed to have died before I could publish it. But then sometimes 40 years’ persistence can be a thing, can’t it? Think Queen’s Gambit, The King’s Speech (bit of a royal theme going on there). Ultimately if you have a dream, keep reaching for it. You can get there. You’ve got this (I kept telling myself) The most important voice in each of our lives is our inner one, the one we hear inside, and we can actually change that voice to make it more supportive, loving and encouraging. I know because I’ve done it.
My dad had maintained that my younger David’s death was an accident or even murder – it was how my father got through his own life. When my mum died in 2017, I thought – now is my chance. And then she left an extraordinary confession which added a whole new dimension, which I needed to write about too.
Once I had the opportunity to write it – I ended up stepping back from my career as a successful family lawyer and mediator – it was so important that I wrote it, I couldn’t stop. The book ultimately burst out of me – sometimes the writing experience was really tough, sometimes joyful but I kept going. Towards the end of my writing, it was as if the book took on the task of writing itself – it would sometimes wake me up at night to tell me I’d missed a bit in chapter 21! It felt like my soul wrote this book: it was a deeply powerful experience.
But it’s not just about the writing of it – my publisher told me that I needed to do everything I could to get famous. Sigh. How? Well, first I contacted Woman’s Hour and luckily they loved it. When they broadcast my story on 18 March 2020 the reaction was incredible. And I also started building my connections on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, which is time-consuming but so worth it. I can hardly believe it, but these days I’ve got around 25k followers on social media. I’ve even started a YouTube channel, Hello! It’s Better To Talk, giving viewers the stories behind the book and encouraging everyone to open up more. The responses are amazing – every day I get the most incredible emails and messages. I am crying every day – it’s so moving to read people’s stories.
And wow, publication day is a truly incredible feeling – worth every drop of those sweat and tears (hey, at least I did not physically bleed for this book).
No Place To Lie is a story of love, loss, passion and ultimately joy, taking steps towards a brighter life. Review readers have told me they have been moved beyond measure, that they couldn’t put it down, it was so relatable and it is ‘breathtaking’. That is so good to hear. The book seems to have a uniquely powerful effect on everyone who reads it, depending on their own life story. I’m longing to hear what a bigger audience will think of it.
My key messages for others with an ambitious dream would be: Have courage, trust yourself, be strong, be vulnerable and take a step into the arena. My big hope for the book is that one day it will be a film (Emma Thompson do you hear me?). If I say so myself, it is a cracking read.
No Place To Lie is published by whitefox.