My Name Is... Helen Starbuck

Author, OR nurse, Arvada resident

Posted 9/5/18

Getting into writing I like to joke that I’ve always written. I started in junior high — but that was about the Beetles. I’ve written off-and-on my whole life. It has pretty much always been …

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My Name Is... Helen Starbuck

Author, OR nurse, Arvada resident

Posted

Getting into writing

I like to joke that I’ve always written. I started in junior high — but that was about The Beatles. I’ve written off-and-on my whole life. It has pretty much always been for private stuff. Until May, I worked as an editor for a nursing journal. I’m an operating room nurse by profession. And this was a specialty journal for OR nurses. I did some writing for that, mostly editing.

Inspiration for my first book

I actually started writing this story in 1984 when I worked at Children’s Hospital. I helped take care of a young woman who had very puzzling neurological symptoms and it took the doctors and really long time to figure out what was wrong. When they did it was a surprise. And of course if I tell you, you’ll know the ending to the book. I thought at the time that it would make a great story and I started three or four chapters. Then I got a new job with the journal and then I got a husband and then a few years later, a daughter. So the story kind of went on the shelf.

Picking the story back up

In 2015, I was moving and in the process of going through stuff I found the story — the first few chapters. I read it and decided I still liked it. That’s when I started working to finish it. It took about a year to get everything written and get it to an editor before it was published. It was published in October last year. “The Mad Hatter’s Son” — it’s the first in the series and the first book I wrote. It was a big switch. Most of my writing has been short stories, commentaries on life. So this is the first full length book.

The book

It’s a mystery that’s set in Denver. They always say write what you know, so the main character is an OR nurse. And she gets very reluctantly dragged into caring for a friend that she’s been estranged from. The friend had a miscarriage and she’s not recovering. She thinks there is something else going on. Her husband and all her doctors think that it’s related to the miscarriage. Which it could be, based on the vague symptoms she had. The two end up arguing and they go their own ways. Not long after the sick friend supposedly commits suicide. The rest of the book is the main character, Annie, trying to figure out what happened.

The process

It was a lot of fun. I have really enjoyed it. It’s a series — the second book will come out in November and the third is with my editor. It took a lot of courage initially of handing it to people when it’s in its rough stages and asking them to tell me what they think. Some people are better than others and providing feedback. Sometimes, if they’re friends, they just say they love it. And then there’s other people that I treasure because they say, “I like it, but I’m a little confused by this part.” I had a friend recently call me up and say she loved it but hated the ending. We had a long conversation and the feedback was really good. So, I did change the ending and my editor was a lot happier with it too. Those kind of people are really valuable.

The recognition

Colorado Independent Publishers association is an association for independent authors or anyone connected with the process. Every year they have their EVVY Awards and they have people enter from all over the United States. So, I entered this in the mystery category. I was pleased. It would have been nice to have first place, but I’m happy just to be recognized.

If you have a suggestion for My Name Is, contact Shanna Fortier at sfortier@coloradocommunitymedia.com.

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