Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. Her debut sci-fi novel, BURN OUT (Egmont USA/Lerner), called “a scorching series opener not to be missed” by Kirkus Reviews, follows Tora Reynolds, one of Earth’s last survivors, when the sun burns out early. Her latest book, THE WING COLLECTOR (Dark Edge Publishing) involves a half-human/half-faerie who realizes her kind are being hunted when a pair of wings fetches big bucks in an online auction.
Kristi muses about politics, space monkeys, and other assorted topics on Twitter. She resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs.
Find out more about Helvig via:
- Her author website, www.kristihelvig.com
- Her Amazon author page
- Her Goodreads author page
Helvig will be donating 50% of profits from The Wing Collector from 11/23-12/4 to CHARG Resource Center, which provides mental health services to underserved clients in the Denver area. If you’re not buying a book, you can still donate to Helvig’s Colorado Gives Day campaign page, no purchase required.
Why Helvig is participating in Colorado #ResistanceReads:
How did current politics become a part of THE WING COLLECTOR?
The rise of hate crimes against minority groups in the two years since Trump was elected has been horrifying to witness. In 2017, there was almost a 60% increase in anti-Semitic crimes alone, and that was before the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In my story, there are a group of half-human/half-faerie people who are forced to register with the government and are often oppressed and persecuted—and then the killings start. When a group is identified as “an other” by a government, it becomes easier to commit atrocities against that group and the book was my way of exploring that within the context of an alternative world.
What do you believe is a writer’s place in the political landscape?
I once heard the comment that all art is inherently political and in looking at a few of my all-time favorite sci-fi storylines (Star Wars, Star Trek, Bladerunner), I have to agree. Every story is told through the lens of the storyteller and is colored with their nuanced worldviews. I also believe that art in all of its forms has the ability to help transform the world and there is great power in words. In writing fiction, you are able to create a distance for the reader from the “real world” which allows for the exploration of tough topics and ideas. It’s not like the books have the answers to all these complex issues but they should definitely raise questions for the reader. The Giver by Lois Lowry is one of my favorite books in terms of raising questions like that.
Were you at all nervous about publishing about these political topics? Why?
No, because my first book BURN OUT, and the sequel, STRANGE SKIES, were published by Egmont USA and addressed a teen who was part of a group called The Resistance against a corrupt government and also tackled the issue of weapons development. BURN OUT became a regional best-seller so I knew there were readers out there who were also interested in these type of topics. In fact, that book was published in 2014 and my editor tweeted me several years later after life imitated art and I became a fierce member of the Resistance after the 2016 election. My twitter feed has become a weird mix of politics, sci-fi and books so readers who follow me on there know what to expect from my books.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from readers about the political topics in your book/story?
It’s interesting because people drawn to my latest book also happen to love faeries and they’ve commented that they sadly think this is what would happen if faeries in today’s world were found to exist. I mention government experiments being conducted in the book and comments from readers echo the idea that our current world seems to view new things with fear and suspicion rather than awe and wonder. I’ve also had a few people email to say that Lila’s story made them cry and that they loved the hope in the ending. My stories tend to be quite dark but I believe it only takes a little light to create change, hence the quote on my website by Kahlil Gibran: One may not reach the dawn, save by path of night.
Why do you think people should pick up these “resistance reads”?
If you love great stories involving complex characters who fight back against various forms of injustice and corruption, then “resistance reads” are for you. The authors are committed to tackling tough issues and want to help make the world a better place—one novel at a time.
Why did you choose the charity you did?
My husband and I are both Ph.D. Clinical Psychologists and are strong advocates for underserved populations and believe that everyone deserves access to good mental health treatment. We’ve seen what happens when people don’t get the services they need and it’s heart-breaking. CHARG Resource Center provides mental health services such as therapy, groups, and medication to underserved clients in the Denver area, many of whom are homeless. My husband happens to the be the executive director there so I know many of the amazing people who work there to make sure that all clients are treated with respect and dignity.
I have lived in various places along the East Coast but have called Colorado home for the past 18 years and cannot imagine living anywhere else. My husband and I came out here to do our internships for our doctoral program and fell in love with the state and never left. We have been actively involved in supporting charitable organizations both locally and nationally, and promote Colorado Gives Day each year, as it’s a great way to give back to people in this wonderful state.
Discussion questions for
THE WING COLLECTOR
When a pair of faerie wings fetch big bucks online, Lila Kincade realizes her kind aren’t just oppressed; they’re hunted. Due to prejudice and hostility by humans, half-human/half-faerie Lila lives in a world where faeries are required to register with the government and bind their wings in order to look like everyone else.
When photos of dismembered wings appear in her school locker, Lila realizes that she is the killer’s prime target. As faerie corpses pile up around her, Lila must figure out who she can trust and stop the killer before she—and all faeries— are obliterated forever.
- Do you agree or disagree with the decision of Lila’s adopted mother to break the law by not registering Lila’s faerie status with the government? Why or why not?
- How did Lila’s meeting with Corinne, a faerie activist, change the course of Lila’s life? In what ways did you see Lila act differently during and after that weekend?
- Though half-faerie, Lila only flew one time as a child due to fears over being discovered. In what ways did hiding her true nature impact her? How does that apply to people in today’s world who feel they have to hide their true nature due to discrimination?
- Amazon: $13.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle