Helen Salsbury’s fiction explores the complexity of relationships and how we are shaped by the environments we live in. She is a spoken word performer, trained community journalist and the founder of the Pens of the Earth environmental writing project.
Helen started writing pretty much as soon as she started reading – or perhaps it’s more true to say that she lived imaginatively, and at some point started trying to find words for it. Over the years she has written poetry, novel manuscripts and eventually short stories. Her first novel, Sometimes When I Sleep, was published in October 2021. She is currently working on final edits for her second novel, The Worry Bottles.
Her manuscripts have been longlisted for the Myslexia Novel competition and the Impress Prize for New Writers. Her shorter fiction has been shortlisted for the Bedford International Short Story Competition and longlisted for InkTears.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: Emily Bronte. I’d like to stride out on the moors with her, both of us in long-skirted dresses and boots. I’d like to get caught in a storm together, our hair whipped across our faces by the wind and ringletted by the rain. I reckon she’d be declaiming, and perhaps I would be too. It would be wild and passionate; it might even be fun. I’d like to go before she got ill.
Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?
A: Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. It was also a favourite book of my Dad’s. He used to quote the line about the snow falling ‘softly, at first, as if it hardly meant it…’ It’s all about the landscape, and reading it is like being there in the lakes with the freshly fallen snow; or racing across the ice in a gale, in an out-of-control sleigh powered by a homemade sail. When my dad was in the final stages of Alzheimers I used to read Winter Holiday to him and it would still reach him. Arthur Ransome’s words brought the light back into his eyes.
Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: Spain to visit my sister and her family – and then somewhere in Scotland, probably an island.
The city museum is free, and that’s one thing. So far this morning they’ve spent no more than five minutes in any of the places they’ve visited, chased by the cold and the crowds. Sephy had forgotten how bleak it was in England at this time of year, so close to Christmas. Some of her …