Helen Comerford has had work performed at Theatre Festivals around the country. Current work includes the touring children's show Penguinpig which she helped to adapt with Traum Theatre Company. As a jobbing writer she has written about everything from history for the History Channel to celebrities for Madame Tussauds!
A history graduate from the University of Glasgow, with a postgraduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Helen has worked as a Stage Manager for several years, running shows in theatres including Shakespeare’s Globe and the O2 Arena. She currently lives in North London and spends a lot of her time playing netball and walking in any green spaces she can find.
As she spends an inordinate amount of time writing on the tube, Helen has set up the #CreativeCommute Challenge to encourage others to use their travel time creatively.
‘Afterlife’ is Helen’s début Young Adult novel.
On writing Afterlife:
The characters: As with so many things ‘Afterlife’ began with a boy and a girl. In this case Peter and Eve who turned up one night in a dream. After that jolt of inspiration their story grew around them; Mare, Grace, Joe, Gabby, all of the characters on the mini bus, had to become part of the story instead of just fellow passengers.
I didn’t really know where the characters came from until they were there, living on the page, then I could start to see similarities - there’s a lot of my sister in Eve, there’s some of my friend Sarah in Grace, there’s some of an ex-boyfriend in Ben! My memories drove other characters, my love of athletics helped to form Mare, my slight obsession with Scotland moulded Peter.
Their world: I have always been fascinated with the way people have used organised religion- to control, to condemn, to terrify. We live in a time where terror created by Islamic Extremists dominates the news and it got me thinking about the awful things people have done in the name of Christianity- The Crusades, burning the Catholics, burning the Protestants, burning the Catholics again. I wondered what might happen if Britain used Christianity as an excuse to close its doors and how the country would fare if the power of government and religion fell into the wrong hands.
The Afterlife: There are some wonderfully ambitious works that depict an afterlife. From Dante’s Inferno to TV’s ‘Supernatural’. I gave myself a lot of freedom whilst writing my version of the afterlife, some of the zones are stereotypes - ever hear someone say ‘This tropical beach is heavenly’ or ‘Rush hour is hell’? Others are less straightforward but all started with the question ‘What is heaven/hell?’
Other writers: I always have a book on the go so have been inspired by more writers than I could possibly list - The biggies in the lead up to writing ‘Afterlife’ were Philip Pullman and his amazing ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. Suzanne Collins and the deservedly popular Hunger Games series and Stephen King’s relentlessly tense ‘Under the Dome.’ If you need something else to read I heartily recommend any of those.