2014 Debut Author: Helene Dunbar


Helene Dunbar only has to wait four more months to hold her book, These Gentle Wounds, in her hands. And for her, that is wonderful and a little unreal.

“I’ve been a total book junkie all my life, so the thought of holding an actual book-shaped object in my hands with my name on it is just a little emotional,” said Dunbar.

Dunbar started writing These Gentle Wounds in mid-2010 and by 2012 it was out on submission. At the time, she was working on several other assignments.

“I already had an agent because we’d subbed Crash first, but then These Gentle Wounds sold in April 2013 and Flux took Crash as well. The path to publishing isn’t necessarily a straight line,” she explained.

Despite the fact that her main character Gordie suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the book does not have any military connections. “There is definitely room for more education about childhood trauma and PTSD. Abuse, traumatic events, so many things can affect a child and actually change their brain chemistry.”

The idea for These Gentle Wounds came from an unfortunate number of true cases, some of which Dunbar once wrote about for an educational book series. “In a 2010 case in New York State, one of the children survived and I started to wonder what his life would be like. I’ve followed the real life story and the boy’s life is nothing like Gordie’s. For better or worse.”

While Dunbar is a writer, she is also a reader. Though she said choosing the books she is most looking forward to in 2014 isn’t easy because there are big books that are coming out, she is dying to read the third book in Maggie Steifvater’s Raven Boys trilogy, as well as several amazing books whose advanced copies she’s had a chance to read, like Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle and Emery Lord’s Open Road Summer.

Of all the books releasing in 2014, she is beyond excited to see Screaming Divas coming out from Merit Press. “Suzanne Kamata is the author and this is her first young adult book. She was my college roommate and I truly love her writing and I’ve been a fan of this book for many, many years. I’m thrilled to see it find a home.”

When she’s not writing, Dunbar likes to travel and has lived in several different countries. “My heart will always be in New York City. I lived there for about 12 years and no place makes me feel as alive.”

When she’s not traveling, though, Dunbar is hard at work on Crash, which is a stand-alone contemporary.

“I wrote Crash before I wrote These Gentle Wounds. It’s about a high school baseball player who ends up being the recipient of his friend Lizzie’s heart after they and their other best friend, Spencer, are in a car accident. He starts thinking that he’s hearing her voice and feeling some of her feelings, particularly for Spencer. It’s very much a story of friendship, and hope and being true to yourself,” said Dunbar.

Author Helene Dunbar.

Author Helene Dunbar.

In addition to Crash, Dunbar is working on a couple other projects, as well.

“I have a manuscript called Boomerang that I’m thrilled to be revising for my new agent, Molly Jaffa, and I’m hoping to go out on submission with that soon. And I’m also working on a ghost story that may or may not have ghosts in it,” said Dunbar.

Dunbar’s advice to the 2015 debut authors?

“Join a debut authors group. I’m a member of OneFour KidLit and the opportunity to learn from, share with, and vent to other authors who are in the same boat as you is invaluable.”

These Gentle Wounds comes out in May from Flux. Be sure to visit Dunbar on her website and on Twitter.

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About Author


Meredith is an avid reader, writer and dog lover. She is a publicist at Spencer Hill Press and the founder of Pandora's Books, a YA book blog, where she shares her love of books with anyone who will listen.

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