Helena Pielichaty was born in Stockholm to an English mother and half-Polish, half-Russian father. Her family moved to England when she was five. She trained as a teacher but began writing full time when her children were small. The author of over 30 books for ages 8-16, she is known for her gritty realism coupled with a wry sense of humour. Helena is currently working on a series of books about girls' football. She blogs at Diary of a Children's Writer.
Why do you blog? > Blatant self-promotion. Wise people tell me it's the way to go if I want readers to stay interested in my books.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Complimentary feedback on various pieces.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Picky comments from people I've favourably reviewed. Stuff like: 'you missed a comma out'. Also, using my blog as a displacement activity instead of working.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Vary the length of your posts. A short snappy one can make just as much of an impression as a mega-long ramble. Be wary of making them too personal. Intimate revelations can come back and bite you in the ass.
What are you reading at the moment? > Get Her Off The Pitch by Lynn Truss, and Malcolm Cook's 101 Youth Soccer Drills.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Oscar Wilde, Leonardo de Vinci, Rodin, Elvis, Katharine Hepburn, Alan Bennett.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Too many to choose, but those that left a lasting impression include The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle, I Am David by Ann Holm, Night by Elie Wiesel, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Futility' by Wilfred Owen.
What is your favourite movie? > Home Alone (it's a family thing).
What is your favourite song? > 'Heroes' by David Bowie.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > That all Tories are evil and that all Labour Members are sound.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Fat is a Feminist Issue by Suzie Orbach. Orbach was the first person to raise the subject of body issues and their significance in women and girls. Way ahead of her time.
Who are your political heroes? > The Pankhursts, Martin Luther King, Peter Tatchell, Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein (Sudanese woman who faced 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public).
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.' (Napoleon)
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Reverse the right to buy council/social housing. Housing stock has diminished drastically for those who need it and RTB has created more problems than it's solved.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Eddie Izzard or Philip Pullman. Either would be interesting.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Fundamentalism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I'm hoping the best is yet to come but 1977, 1985 and 1987 were pretty good.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Don't sweat the small stuff.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Maybe in the short term, not in the long.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Stiff upper lip in times of adversity. I might only be half-English but it's the way to go.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Smugness.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Almost any. I'm a born stretcher of truth. Catastrophizing is my hobby.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Seeing over-75s driving. Women wearing the burqa - hideous, regressive and an affront to Emily Davison.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Time is a great healer.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Still don't get the whole Twitter thing.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > My children being hurt.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Loads of things; but I guess if we made no mistakes we'd never learn.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > This changes daily, depending on where I've just visited. Today's answer is in one of those amazing white five-storey Georgian houses off Old Brompton Road, London.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to sing in tune.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Spike Milligan, Caroline Aherne, Jack Dee, Lee Mack.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Muhammad Ali, Lily Parr, Nikolai Trusevich (the goalkeeper for Dynamo Kiev shot during WW2), David Beckham, Daley Thompson.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Huddersfield Town (Premiership pending).
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > Every secondary school would have a library containing real books and real, qualified librarians (not parents/volunteers).
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Are we talking Euromillions? If so, see to family first. Then the dream house, i.e. Victorian detached villa with library, huge private gardens and orchard. Altruistic changes: funding Care Homes properly so that elderly residents get the best all-round care possible. Supporting forward thinking mental health projects.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]