Our second-to-last-day of the summer brought us the energetic Helen Philips, author of Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green, an adventurous and heartfelt book with an environmental twist.
Before Helen arrived, we prepared by writing a few skits about a vacation or trip that goes awry. In Helen’s novel, the main characters travel to a gorgeous spa resort in Central America but sinister things appear underneath the luxurious surface. We had many spooky ideas and split into groups to act them out on the Thalia Stage.
When Helen arrived, she began by discussing something that makes her very special — when she was eleven, she lost all of her hair because of an autoimmune disease called alopecia. We had a length discussion about the pros and cons of having no hair… Helen talked about what it was like as a child and an adult to have something special and different about her appearance.
Then we got to see both of Helen’s book trailers: first, for Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green and then also her short story collection
(which written for adults), And Yet They Were Happy. Both of the trailers were made by her husband, artist Adam Thompson (and you can watch them here). Afterwards, Helen led us in a mini-quiz where we had to guess some of the alternate titles and plot twists that didn’t make it into the book. We also got a chance to look at two new versions of the book — one from the UK and one from Germany! It turns out the book could have been called Miss Beautiful and Mr. Perfect or even The Weirdness. And in the UK version, the same exact book is being sold as Upside Down in the Jungle.
Helen then read two short stories from her first book And Yet They Were Happy. Her collection has a fascinating form — she wrote an entire book of short stories which are exactly 340 words! We read the stories and gave her some of our thoughts. Helen also talked about the difference between writing for adults and writing for young adults. She told us that she felt more free to write about magic and supernatural forces when writer for younger readers.
After we bid adieu to Helen, we enjoyed an afternoon of lunch in the park, charades in the Thalia, and other free time! We can’t believe Thalia Book Club Camp is almost coming to a close — tomorrow, Jeff Hirsch will visit with his novel The Eleventh Plague, and we’ll say our final goodbyes.