Helen M. Pugsley - Author
When Helen was a little girl, she doesn’t remember there being many inspiring women in her
cartoons. Or for that matter, any inspiring little girls to look up to! There was Jimmy Neutron, Timmy Turner, and Power Rangers. The girls got Cindy, Trixie, and the Pink Ranger.
The media marketed to little girls Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid. Even though Helen loved all those movies, she just noticed there was a lack of strong women who didn’t need to rely on a man.
Even if they were strong, the stories still needed to rely on a male foil to bring in viewers. So, at 14 years of age she wrote her first book: War and Chess.
It started out as some weird dream Helen had. Her English teacher heard her telling some friends about it and said, “you should write a book about that!” For some reason it stuck and five years later Helen shipped her a book with a “Thank you,” both handwritten, and in the dedications. (Thank you, Ms. Holroyd!) She even helped Helen edit one of the first drafts in her free time.
She pursued publishing War and Chess so fiercely because, again, she didn’t feel like girls had enough books like it floating out in the world. There just weren’t enough warrior princesses learning to put their country before themselves. And really, can you ever have enough warrior princesses?
After Helen published it people started asking her, “where’s the next one?” She’s still working on finding a publisher for Tales from the Gishlan Wood. Her new dream is to write an entire series about tough teenage girls who learn about leadership and handle the arduous business of being princesses.
Helen already has To Craft a Nation and Rock at the Bottom of the Sea written, which are books three and four in her series.
If she’s being honest, Helen says it’s a little terrifying when you realize someone is reading your work. She worked at the county library and ran a group for creative teens called Charcoal and Quill Guild. That way 14-year-olds writing novels always have someone who will support their dreams.
Of course, it wasn’t exclusively for writers. They were open to painters, sculptures, video editors, fan artists, casual doodlers, and poets. You name it! Sometimes after their weekly meetings Helen will realize War and Chess isn't on the shelf. You think that she’d be excited but it’s oddly... “oh geeze, I hope they like it!”
But then she feels like a hypocrite because it’s a teen group for young creative people, and she’s constantly encouraging them to put their work out there so their community can support them!
Helen hopes that somewhere along the line she’s taught them that it’s okay to be scared but you have to do the thing you love anyway.
While she is no longer involved with that library and group, the goal is the same. Her dreams are about inspiring teens-- particularly young girls-- to do their best, be brave, and live life out loud. No matter what that looks like for them individually. She feels like one way she can do that is through her Gishlan series of books.
Helen recognizes that it takes a group of supportive people to help anyone get to where they want to go. She believes she certainly wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if she didn’t have a brigade of strong women backing her.
Her mother, her grandmother, Ms. Holroyd, the first press she worked with: Ink Smith Publishing; every librarian that gave her a venue for a book signing. No one is an island, and we need to keep on inspiring and helping each other so we can benefit as a society as a whole.
We believe that Helen’s message and mission are a force for positive change. Ensuring the young girls of today, can become what they to be tomorrow, is of critical importance in the drive for gender equality.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Helen! And we encourage everyone to look at, and follow, her social profiles to keep up with her story and what she’s working on!