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Helena striving to become author of her own destiny

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Helena Brady with her debut novel, ‘The Secrets of the Forest’

Helena Brady with her debut novel, ‘The Secrets of the Forest’

Helena Brady with her debut novel, ‘The Secrets of the Forest’

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While most of her peers are taking some much-needed time off in preparation for Sixth Year, the Leaving Cert and all that entails, Helena Brady (17) is embarking upon what she hopes will be the first chapter in a lengthy and successful career.

Tonight (Wednesday, July 31), the Ballinstoe teenager officially launches her first novel at an intimate gathering in The Hot Spot. Entitled 'The Secrets of the Forest', Helena's debut work is a paranormal fantasy which tells the story of Sarah-Rose, a woman drawn to a mysterious forest despite the dangers which lurk within.

Released by UK publishing house Austin Macauley's 'The Secrets of the Forest' is just one of a number of works Helena currently has in the pipeline, but holding her first book in her hands was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

'I started writing it when I was 14. I had my idea, so I worked on developing it into what would eventually become my debut novel. It took about 18 months to get a publisher, it was amazing when we got the physical copies of the book,' she said.

Even more amazing is that very few people knew that Helena had begun writing seriously, most only finding out when she casually informed them she had completed her first novel.

'We didn't even know she'd written it,' said Helena's mother Julie-Ann. 'There's a few musicians in the family, so there is a creative element there. But it's surreal really when you think of what she's done. She was having a conversation with someone the other day and said something like, "oh my publisher mailed me the other day." It was such a strange moment.'

As soon as Helena had finished 'The Secrets of the Forest' she began working on further novels, and such was her dedication to her craft that by the time she'd acquired a publishing deal for her first book she'd already written two more. In total she has written five other, unpublished, novels and continues to work on more.

A student at Loreta Secondary School in Bray, Helena has had to balance her passion for writing with her studies, a challenge which she's thus far managed to overcome.

'It was hard to combine the two, especially in fifth year when it's study, study, study. But any chance I got I was on my laptop and writing. My friends think its really cool,' she explains.

Described by her mother as a 'quiet person who doesn't like putting herself out there', Helena was subsequently nominated for a Garda Youth Award, an award which she won at a ceremony in May of this year.

In addition, through her involvement with Fighting Words - a young writers' group in Bray - one of Helena's short stories was chosen to appear in a book featuring the best works from young writers across the nation.

Yet she remains humble and down-to-earth, her only focus on continuing what she's started and fulfilling her goal of doing what she loves for a living.

'My dream is to become a full-time author, that's the ultimate goal,' she says. 'In terms of audience I think people aged 16 or over should enjoy 'The Secrets of the Forest', it's not really for younger teenagers. People who like reading Holly Black should like it.'

Helena Brady's debut novel 'The Secret of the Forest' is now available to purchase online, in Waterstones and in other selected stores.


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