Interview with Helga Madland, author of 'Turtle Bay'

HELGA STIPA MADLAND was born in Upper Silesia, now a part of southwest Poland, in 1939. In 1945, she was a refugee along with her Mother and Sister; Dad, a forester, had been drafted. They left their home village together with her aunt, Tante Hilde, whose husband, Onkel Joseph, was able to help because he was a police detective and had not been drafted, and their three children, Rita, Lothar and Sigrid. Lothar is two days younger than Helga, and the cousins regarded this to be a cause for constant conflict. Later, in West Germany, two more cousins were born, Guenther and Reinhart, a large group of cousins.
In 1954, by way of Canada, the author, her parents Hubert and Ann, sister Ingrid, and brother Michael (born much later in West Germany) moved to the United States. Helga graduated from Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1957.
Hubert Stipa was able to obtain a position as a forester in Idaho and lived there, along with his wife Ann, until his death in 2004 at the age of ninety-three. Helga worked as a secretary, something she thought she would never do because she could not type; after a short while, she married Bill (Spike) Madland and they produced three amazing children, Kathryn, Michael and Patrick, who now live with their spouses, Bob, Lisa and Bobbie, in Boise, Seattle and Anchorage. Helga is fortunate to have six grand children, Bobby and Alex, Sydney and Colin, Atticus and Melozie, and two nephews, Christopher, her brother’s son, and Tom, her former sister-in-laws, Joanne’s, son.
Former sister-in-law suggests that the marriage to “Spike” did not last. After completing her B.A. by hook and by crook (night school, correspondence courses, one semester on campus), Helga earned a B.A. in German and English education and taught high school for three years in Twin Falls, Idaho. Eventually, she noticed that Ingrid, her sister, who by then had returned to graduate school in California, earned about the same as a teaching assistant as she earned as a high school teacher in Idaho. Helga applied for graduate study in German and was accepted at the University of Washington, from where she graduate in 1981 with a Ph.D. in German and a minor in Spanish. By then, daughter Kathy had graduated from high school and was about to attend college. Sons Mike and Pat accompanied her to Seattle, where they lived on campus, and undoubtedly received an effective out-of-classroom education.
In 1981, Ph.D. finally in hand, Helga asked her sons, who by then had graduated from high school, if she should accept the assistant professor of German position she had been offered at the University of Oklahoma; they told her: “Mom, if you don’t leave, we might.” Such maturity was difficult to resist. She took the job.
After “rising” to department chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma, an institution she generally adores, she retired in 2005 and is now Professor Emeritus at OU.
Last but in no way least, she has been married for twenty years or so, to her second husband (and, believe me, last), Richard Beck, who teaches Ancient Greek at the University of Oklahoma. When he isn’t reading Greek grammar or literature, he is reading international recipes, or worrying about the two dogs, the long-haired dachshund Questor, Peter, a sort of schnauzer-terrier mixture, and four domestic house cats, Tassos, a languid, yellowish feline, Gretel, his tortoise shell sister, Percy, a calico cat, and Fritz, a very hairy cartoon cat. All these animals live with us. In addition, Richard like to garden and travel, in reversed order.
Visit Helga on the web at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Helga.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Helga Stipa Madland is a retired professor of eighteenth-century German literature and the author of academic books and articles. She has also written a novel which she translated into German and a travelogue.   Turtle Bay is her second novel.  She has three children, six grandchildren, dogs and cats, and lives with her husband, Richard Beck, in Norman, OK.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Turtle Bay is a whimsical mystery unraveling an art theft and the disappearance of an English professor at the famous resort by the same name at the North Shore of Oahu, HI.  When my husband and I visited the resort on a dark and stormy day, I thought it was the perfect setting for a mystery.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

Trying to keep the two dogs and five cats from bothering me while I was trying to concentrate on writing.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

I do not have a press kit. I do have an author’s page on Amazon and will do a five day free promotion of the novel on Kindle after the election.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

I gave a presentation to the Norman Galaxy of Writers, a fine group of writers that meets once a month.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I do not have an agent and do not want to go through the pain of getting one.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

My media blitz is the virtual book tour with which I am presently engaged.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Indeed. I am presently writing my reminiscences, “You Are Not From Around Here, Are You” and shall write other novels about Detective Kahamala and his family, the stars of Turtle Bay.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Helga.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?


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