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Special Interview ~ Helena Hunting, Inked Armor Blog Tour Review, SIGNED #Giveaway

Today we are super excited to have Helena Hunting at Sweet Spot Book Blog! Helena is the author of the popular Clipped Wings series.  We're helping her celebrate the recent release of book 2, Inked Armor with an exclusive interview, a blog tour stop & a SIGNED paperback set giveaway!!!

Special Interview with Helena Hunting!

Grace:  Hi, Helena, thank you for taking the time to stop by to answer a few questions.  Clipped Wings and Inked Armor was a widely known and loved fanfic.  At what point did you decide to publish your story and what have you learned from your publishing journey?

Helena: I had just finished working on a completely separate manuscript and I was preparing to query it when an indie publisher approached me about Clipped Wings. I’ve always had a soft spot for those characters, but revising the story seemed like such a daunting task because of the length of the manuscript. I knew it was going to take a lot of time and energy to make that happen but it was time to take on the challenge. I spent the next several months rewriting the entire story, breaking it into two book and cutting half the content.

I didn’t go it alone, though; during that time I worked with a group of women from The Writer’s Collective. Along with my editor, I managed to get both books written and revised. Eventually it was picked up by Gallery Books. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of editing, and then promotion leading up to the release of both Clipped Wings and Inked Armor. The learning curve has been steep, but I have an amazing group of supportive author friends who have been with me this entire time. It’s been such an incredible adventure and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Holly:  Where did the characters of Hayden and Tenley come from? Are either of them based on real people?

Helena: Thankfully they’re not based on anyone I know, although their trauma is loosely based on some of the horrific events highlighted in the media. A groom and groomsmen were in a limo on their way to the wedding. A tractor trailer jackknifed and everyone died leaving a devastated bride at the altar. That kind of trauma would leave deep scars. I wanted to explore how someone could move on from such tragedy and learn to live again. Thus, Tenley and Hayden were created.

Holly:  Why did you give Hayden mild OCD?

Helena: Hayden is an extremist; he lives on the edge of what’s acceptable. He’s also very rigid in some ways, particularly when it comes to maintaining order. In Inked Armor, readers learn more about this facet of his personality and how it impacts his life. Like many A Type personalities, he’s perfectionist. His “OCDness” is a manifestation of his need to control his environment, which became more prominent in the wake of losing his parents. 

At first he fell into a negative, self-destructive cycle. The alcoholism and the drug abuse were his initial way of coping with the lack of control over what he witnessed, and his guilt over it. When he came out of that downward spiral he went in the opposite direction, maintaining almost militant control over his environment as a means to help manage the internal chaos. For the most part it worked, until the events surrounding his parents deaths came to the forefront again.

Holly:  There is a point in the book where Hayden tells Tenley that tattoos, piercings or any modification can be cathartic because it's the promise of change. I strongly agree with this statement. Can you tell me your feelings about it?

Helena: Piercings are generally decorative, aside from the ones that are meant to provide gratification once they’re healed. Tattoos are different in that they allow the person to wear memories or events on their skin. Some of these can be highly positive events or memories, other times they can be a reflection of loss, as is the case for Tenley. Memorial tattoos are a perfect example of this, they commemorate life, or death and give the event or memory somewhere to live permanently, outside of the mind. In this, it can become a catalyst for healing. But it’s not the just the end result that becomes the catharsis; it’s the entire process. From idea, to design, to putting the art on skin; it allows the wearer to re-live the events or memories and hopefully come to terms with the loss.

Grace:  Having read your story before, I loved that the audiobook gave me an entirely new reading experience. What was your reaction when you heard the Clipped Wings audiobook for the first time?

Helena: I have to admit, it’s a little odd to hear my words read to me by narrators. I love Jason Carpenter and Elizabeth Louise for Hayden and Tenley. I think they do a wonderful job of capturing their voices and their characters. I giggled my way through the smutty scenes at first, because it’s so bizarre to hear what I wrote read by a male, but they both do a fabulous job of bringing the story and the characters to life.

Grace & Holly:  Why cupcakes and what is your favorite cupcake flavor?

Helena: Hayden’s mom used to make them for him as a child and they were very close relationship with her. Initially for Hayden, cupcakes have strong connections to positive memories, most of which have been overshadowed by death. With a character like Hayden, who is so hard around the edges and who presents such an intense and dangerous exterior, he needed a harmless weakness and cupcakes were the perfect treat. I liked the contradiction of a tattooed, pierced man acting like a child around cupcakes.

My personal favourite are vanilla cupcakes and I love them with mango or strawberry icing, those are delicious!

Grace:  Are you working on anything new? What is next after the Clipped Wings series?

Helena: Cracks in the Armor, a novella featuring Chris and Sarah releases June 23rd. After that, I have a couple other manuscripts I’d like to work through. Eventually I’d like to dig into another story I wrote a few years ago and clean it up, so there are lots of projects I’d like to work on.

Helena, you are so sweet and kind to chat with us! Thank you so much!!!

It’s been a pleasure! Thanks so much for having me!

Title: Inked Armor
Author: Helena Hunting
Series: Clipped Wings #2
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster)
Source: ARC provided by publisher for an honest review

In this follow-up to Clipped Wings, the emotional love story continues between Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.
In the wake of losing Tenley Page, tattooist Hayden Stryker's tumultuous past is haunting him. Plagued by nightmares about the murder of his parents, Hayden reaches out again to Tenley. Having run from the man she doesn't believe she deserves, Tenley finally lays her guilt to rest. Despite their intense physical attraction, Hayden and Tenley struggle to repair their fragile emotional connection. As Hayden gets closer to the truth, he must find a way to reconcile his guilt over his parents' death in order to keep the woman who finally cracked his armor, and found her way into his heart.

Book Links:
Goodreads | Simon & Schuster | Amazon
Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible

A few days, a week, just a little longer. Everyone told me she needed time. Her silence told me she needed time.

Fuck time.

Time went on and on. An endless cycle of sleep, wake, bear the agony, and repeat. I fucking hated time.

Tenley had been gone for three weeks. Every day without her was sensory deprivation, drawn out and torturous from beginning to end. The first week, I called her every day. Her phone always went to voice mail. She never called back. I stopped calling because it sucked to know I’d been discarded so easily.

Memories of her were everywhere: home, work, Serendipity. I couldn’t escape. So at least I understood why she came to Chicago in the first place: to get away from the ceaseless reminders. I couldn’t figure out what had compelled her to go back, though. She could run from me all she wanted, but returning to the place she’d fled from didn’t make much sense. Unless she was looking to shackle herself to the guilt again. It was easy to deny the possibility of a future when she let the past drag her down. I knew. I’d done that for years until Tenley came along.

5 Stars

My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story.” ~ Johnny Depp

That quote reminds me so much of this story!

The words Inked Armor refer more to just the name of Hayden's tattoo shop, it signifies the armor built within as a layer of defense from a tragic past event. Inked Armor continues the story of Hayden and Tenley. While Clipped Wings established the pain these two kept inside, Inked Armor is the book where the walls finally come crashing down.

Tenley and Hayden's emotional sides play a whole lot of catch up. It's takes a while, but through the miscommunication, fear, guilt, and dealing with unresolved issues, finally, these two get to see the shining light at the end of the tunnel. It's not easy. Inked Armor shows their struggle to lay the past to rest and learn that it's possible to move on together. From the start, Tenley and Hayden have always been physically compatible. Gosh, they get a little too carried away, don't they? I'm thinking of a certain incident that happened on top of the...well, you're gonna have to read and find out. :)

I'm so glad I decided to re-read these stories. The Clipped Wings series continue to be among my favorites! This series has been greatly edited. If you're at all wondering how different, I was pleasantly surprised that the published versions are much more streamlined than the longer, original version. There were new-to-me scenes and certain scenes were nicely re-done, but the heart of the story remains the same. Not only does this sequel showcase more tatts and piercings, cupcakes, and steamy goodness, but also, it is a prime example of how resilient the human spirit can be! Inked Armor is an excellent sequel. In the end, I whole-heartedly LOVED taking this journey again. Hmmm, I'm suddenly craving a cupcake...thank you, Helena Hunting!

Series Reading Order:
Book #0.5: Cupcakes and Ink (novella)
Book #1: Clipped Wings
Book #1.5: Between the Cracks (novella)
Book #2: Inked Armor
Book #2.5: Cracks in the Armor (novella) - Releasing June 23, 2014

Helena's Social Media

Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She's putting her English degree to good use by writing popular fiction. She is the author of Clipped Wings, her debut novel, and Inked Armor.

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