G. Lloyd Helm is a philosopher, poet, novelist and short story writer whose short story, A Tale of Segovia’s Guitar, was awarded first place in 2006 by the Antelope Valley Literary Coalition.
Q & A with Author G. Lloyd Helm
by Book Promotions Newsletter Editor Francine Silverman
Q. Aside from the above, you write political columns, novels that have ranged from science fiction to anti-war fantasy to history and philosophy. You also wrote a literary romance, memoirs, cover religion in Design (PublishAmerica 2006), and produced an anthology made up of short stories, poems and essays by past and present residents of Antelope Valley, California. I read your novel, Other Doors, a fantasy of good and evil, and it was a real page turner. That book, I would guess, covered fantasy, philosophy and history. Needless to say, you are hard to categorize!
Glad you liked Other Doors. I am very proud of that little book. It came out in 1997 and since its publication my little book about peace has gone to every war zone in the world. That’s because, being retired military, I sold hundreds of them on military bases. I know for sure that there are at least two of them in Afghanistan right now because I sold them to a couple of Marines who were on their way there.
You wrote that you spend weekends at craft fairs and art shows, selling your books.
Q. Do you take a table every weekend or walk around peddling your wares?
Yes. I take a table/space and set up my book store. I have a table and display racks for my books and those of others I also sell. I keep my whole store in my little silver bullet car and can set up at a moment’s notice.
Q. Given all the different fields you cover, how else do you market your books?
I also market on line and via mail. But mostly I am just always on about my books. So much so that I sometimes see people cringe when I walk up.
Q.Other Doors has been banned by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and your literary romance, Sometimes in Dreams has been removed from Federal prison libraries. Why?
That whole thing has been a goat rope from the beginning. At one point the prison authorities decided that all fantasy books should be pulled from the shelves, so it wasn’t just me. It was some Psychologist’s idea that reading such books made the prisoners live in fantasy rather than reality, which is BS as far as I’m concerned. They pulled Sometimes in Dreams along with any other “romance” that had any sexual content. Same reasoning as with the fantasy novels and just as stupid.
Q. You live in northern Los Angeles County in the Antelope Valley. How large is the area of some 475,000 residents? There are so many writers within its bounds, that your small publishing company, Mouseprints Publishing, has produced anthologies of works by residents for nine years?
Antelope Valley, as we defined it for the sake of the Anthologies, is quite large. I can’t even guess how many square miles, but many. It took in everywhere from Barstow to Frazier Park (east to west) and Acton to Ridge Crest (north to south)
There are lots of writers up in this area. I tell people that between Lancaster and Tehachapi we are about the third largest literary arts community in the country. We get lots of people up from LA/Hollywood who like to live in the desert. The Anthologies never lacked submissions. Our last one, “9” had 285 author submissions and some of those were multiple so we had to comb pretty hard to get the number down to the usual 20-25 authors. We grew every year and got better every year. The first year the book was so crude it didn’t even have page numbers. The last two,Darkness Visible, and “9” were both up for international small press prizes.
Mouse Prints has also published several things besides my first novel and the AV anthologies, the main one being a beautiful compact guide book for a local Indian Museum—that one had eighty-eight color pictures in it which was a new experience.
Q. Despite your prolific output, in order to make a living you have held a variety of jobs, such as ditch digger, brick layer, carpenter, cabbie, cook and clerk.
Do your fellow workers know you are a writer and have you ever sold any of your books to any of them?
You left out a bunch such as a US Post Office Dock Walloper, Stage Actor, and Musician. I could go on and on. And yeah, I was never shy about being a ne’er-do-well scribbler. Sold quite a few books to quite a few people with whom I worked. But truth be told I could never have kept writing without the support of my wife Michele. She has been my patron since the beginning. I tell people that my epitaph will read “He married well” and I am only half joking. Without Michele I don’t know where I would be.
Q. Tell us about your new novel, which is more literary than the others.
My new novel is more straight ahead literary than anything I have written so far. Sometimes in Dreams was more literary and it has been compared with a Hemingway novel Across the River and into the Trees. Wasn’t one of his best but hey, someone compared me with Hemingway. I said all that to say this, my new novel Serpents and Doves, of which I just finished the rough, is Hemingway-esque in style in that it has a lot of dialogue and details real world situations. Serpents and Doves is a novel of the mid-1960’s. It is about a young man who has been fairly sheltered all his life suddenly being tossed into a world he didn’t really know existed. He goes to college thereby avoiding the draft, and finds himself enmeshed in the civil rights struggle, church struggles, homosexuality struggles and even the pre-six day war Arab–Israeli struggle. It is fiction, but it connects with my own life in many ways. I am hoping to have it tightened up and out for sale within the next year.
Gary was interviewed by Francine Silverman, editor of Book Promotion Newsletter,
an on-line publicist, compiler of 16 ebooks of talk radio shows and host of a weekly
radio show, Fraternizing with Fran – where interesting people come to chat.
http://www.talkradioadvocate.com and http://talkradioadvocate.blogspot.com
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