Helen Pattskyn

Okay, this is where I get to be long winded... ;-)  
You might want to go make a cup of coffee...
or pour a glass of wine.

............................................................................................................ 

My real, legal name is Helen Barbara Pattskyn; that's not the name I was born with, but it is the name on my drivers' licence and voters' registration card. (And yes, I DO vote.)


I am bisexual, a mom, a wife, a witch, a writer, an artist, a shaman, a tarot reader, a rune worker, an amateur astronomer, a romance writer, a student, and a teacher. I believe in marriage equality. I believe in human equality. Male, female, other, transgender, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, young, old, in between: None of it matters. Ethnicity doesn't matter. We are all humans. We are what matters.

I write as both Helen Pattskyn and H.B. Pattskyn; I think it's pretty obvious that they are the same person and that person is me. At least one of my friends has questioned the wisdom of writing sensual m/m romance in my own name (and at least one professional marketing person I met insists that NO author publishes his/her own name--which I happen to know is horse shit), but I spent the last five years building a web presence, writing fanfiction, creating and showing artwork, under the name H.B. Pattskyn. My Facebook and Twitter are both under the name H.B. Pattskyn. I don't think that using a pen name now would serve any purpose; I'd just have to tell all those people that Jane Writer is really me, Helen Pattskyn... I wouldn't be 'protecting' my identity... and seriously, you identity thieves out there: I'm a writer and an artist, and I don't mean of the J.K. Rowling or Boris variety. If you think you can get rich off MY name, think again, bub. I'm lucky to make my mortgage every month. Let's not even talk about my credit score. If you try using my name to get a credit card, they'll laugh you out of the store. Seriously, after two divorces, I am NOT a good credit risk. (Not that I advocate having a lousy credit score as the best way to protect your identity...)

So, who am I?

I was born on 17 January, 1969 (that was a Friday). Both my Sun and my Moon are in Capricorn--so are the asteroids Psyche and Sappho. I have both Mars and Neptune near my Ascendant to spice things up a little, both in Scorpio, no less.

For those of you aren't astrology buffs, don't sweat it. What all that boils down to is that I tend toward the pragmatic, the practical, side of things, but spirituality, intuition, and the "unknown" play an important part in my life. When I let go and stop worrying about being right, I can be pretty spot-on, intuitively. I tend to come off as more stoic than I really am... yes, of course I panic when the oven is on fire (no, really: true story), but what's better, running around like a Sim with the house on fire or grabbing the fire extinguisher and putting it out? Okay, so I was on the phone at the time and had to calmly tell my sister I'd call her back in a minute, there was a fire in the kitchen... no, no need to panic, honestly, I had it under control.... after all, it wasn't the first time the stove had ever caught fire.


A rose by any other name...

My mother named me Rikki Estelle, for her godmother Estelle (Stella), whom most people called Rikki, after her drink of choice, a gin rickie (?? I really have no idea how you'd spell that, I just know it's a gin and tonic.)

When I was three, the story goes, I came into the house, and announced that my doll was Rikki and I was Barbara. I have no idea where Barbara came from, but my grandmother had never been fond of "Rikki", so she  jumped on the opportunity and had my name legally changed to Barbara Celia (Celia was her mother's name; my great grandmother died of either a heart attack or a stroke, when my grandmother was ten.)

When I divorced my second husband, I gave myself a present: a brand new name. Helen, after my grandmother, Barbara, to keep a little consistence in my life, Pattskyn, after my great gradmother's maiden name (actually spelled Patskin, but hey, I had to be a little different, okay?) 



Growing up...

I grew up in Hazel Park, Michigan; I was raised by my grandmother, Helen Garzia Braund, because my mother pretty much didn't want to be bothered with the responsibility of motherhood; I've never known my father. My parents were divorced before I was old enough to form memories of him. Sometimes I get asked if I miss my father  but how can you miss someone you've never known?  I did think about looking for him once, but never went through with it. It 42, I have no regrets about having never known the man whose name sits above the line "father" on my birth certificate. I have no regrets about being raised by my grandmother, either; she wasn't perfect, but she was wonderful. She passed away in 1994, of complications due to cancer; that was one year before I became pregnant with my daughter.

I know that most kids love to draw and paint, but I can hardly remember a time when I didn't have a crayon or marker in my hand. I won a number of blue ribbons in elementary school for various artistic endeavours, including the school library's annual Easter egg decorating contest (I think I won two or three years in a row), in which the objective was to turn your Easter egg into a character from your favorite story. Probably not a medium I'll play with again any time soon, but it was fun when I was little!   :)

I wrote my first real short story in the second grade, as part of a spelling assignment. It involve fleas living on a toy dog whose fur tasted like bread... My second grade teacher, Mrs. Stockman, was incredibly supportive of my creativity--and an all around awesome teacher. She didn't even crack a smirk at bread flavored synthetic fur...


My favorite television shows included Wild Kingdom, Jacques Cousteau, and Nation Geographic and In Search Of...  I was (and still am!) also a huge fan of Gamera and Godzilla movies, Ultra Man and Johnny Sokko, Kimba and Mission Magic with Rick Springfield. (Feel free to read whatever you want to into that  ;-)  As I got a little older, I became a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek**, Space 1999, and Lost in Space.

**Trivia: In the episode, Wolf in the Fold, John Fiedler plays a man possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper. John Fiedler is also the actor who did the voice of Winnie the Pooh's best friend, Piglet.
I have never looked at Piglet the same way since I found that out. Now you won't, either  ;-)

In elementary school, I read books by Marguerite Henry, and regularaly camped out in the 500's (natural history) section of the library, reading books about animals (both living and extinct), and space/astronomy.

In the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years of school, I made four incredible discoveries: Doctor Who (Tom Baker era), Monty Python, Douglas Adams, and Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series... yes, one of these things is not like the others... well, maybe not. You should read Brust for yourself and find out! 

I also discovered Lene Lovich, the Residents, Culture Club, ABC, Lori Anderson, and later the Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Gowan, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Yazoo, the Spoons, the Human League, and a host of other singers, some more left of centre than others.

My two favorite teachers from middle school are Ms. Good and Mrs. Green...erm, sorry, Arlene. Ms. Good was my creative writing teacher, mentor, and Creative Problem Solving coach. Arlene Green was our librarian, and the reason I went into library science myself.

It was in Arlene's library that I started reading more books on the paranormal--huantings, ghosts, ley lines, strange animals (cryptozoology), and psychic phenomenea. It was also in her library that I purchased a copy of Diana Wynne Jones's book Dogsbody.  One of the characters in that book is the Welsh God Arawn, and there was something truly, goose-pimple risingly amazing about the description Jones gives us of the Wild Hunt. I didn't know it at the time, but that was my first calling toward Paganism.

I started reading Anne McCaffery, Marion Zimmer Bradly, and for a little while, I read Robert Adams's Horse Clans books.

My best friend and I went to see The Terminator at the local cinima; it was rated R. My grandmother bought out tickets, assured the girl behind the glass we had parental permission to see the movie and then left us. She had no desire to see Arnold promising us that he'd be back... again... and again... and again.... oops, I'm getting ahead of myself!


I attened Hazel Park High School with Frank Anthony Polito (see the side bar, "Good Reads, LGBT")  We didn't know each other well, we were just in Ms. Good's Creative Writing class together in middle school, although I don't think we said more than three words to one another (I was decidely not-cool in middle school. I don't really think I'm especially cool as an adult, either  ;-)  However, I do highly recommend his books... and no, I am NOT going to tell you which minor character I am in Band Fags or Drama Queers--I think I was only a 'walk through' in one of them, but I seriously don't recall which. I am infinately grateful to Frank for reminding me exactly why I would never want to be 16, EVER again!!

In high school I wrote. A lot. One of my friends once said she was afraid to tell me what she'd gotten up to on the weekend, because it might appear in something I wrote... and she's right, it would have! I draw on real life quite frequently. (I am, in fact, working on a piece that is very, VERY loosly autobiographical, taken from the period of time after my first divorce.) I also continued to study art, music (flute), Mythology, and took a couple of classes in television broadcasting. I discovered Carl Sagan, yoga (I as thinner and more flexible back then), meditation, and spent hours on end at the library.


Religious Awakening...

When I was seventeen, I made a startling discovery in the library: there were more than two religions in the world.

What?

Yes, see, I my grandmother taught me a very simple view of the world. There was Christianity, the One Right, True Religion, those "poor Jews" (it wasn't really their fault, they were just born that way). Oh, and there was that "hippie cult" that broke up the Beatles. (That would be Hinduism.) Anything else was....(lowers voice dramatically) Satanism....(looks both ways to see if anyone was listening in, because the "S" word should never be spoken... no really, I was told to call the Tazmanian Devil, the Tazmanian D-word, because "Devil" wasn't a word we said, either.)  At any rate, anything that was't Christianity, Judiasm ("poor dears"), or "those hippies", was the "S" word... or Athism, which was still Satanism, just by a different name.

Imagine my surprise when I wandered up the aisle in the library to discover the Religion section and find out how wrong my world view was. Those "hippies" were Hindus, Jews had a rich, beautiful culture, there were Muslims, Buddhists, and all sorts of smaller religions in the world, too. I started reading anything and everything, but long abouts the time I discovered that there were other choices was about the time I needed one. I'll just say I had a crisis of faith because of something my Baptist Sunday School teacher said, and leave it at that. She really meant well, honestly, and probably even believed what she was saying, the problem was that it wasn't supported by facts, Biblical or otherwise.

I was 18 when I came across Scott Cunningham's book Earth Power, and I discovered Paganism for real. Now, I should backtrack just a smidge to say that my mother, her sister and best friend dabbled in the occult. Nothing so glamorous as The Craft,  but Mom knew how to attrack things that went bump in the night. She also knew where all the good occult bookstores were. So it was only natural for me to discover witchcraft... Cunningham made it make sense.


Sexuality...

My first crush on a girl came at about the same time as I was recovering from having my heart broken by the First One True Love of My Life. (Yes, you, I mean you. Do NOT tell me you didn't know that, babe.) I was pining for him while he callously dated one of my closest female friends (I mean, really, of all the NERVE... yeah, that's sarcasm there. We were all of 16 and 17 years old. If that.) Then, in walks this gorgeous (not really, she was plain, but in my eyes she was angelic) blonde... I never acted on it. Hey, I was smitten, not stupid.

A few years later, I dated a girl for real (as opposed to in my head). It was... teenagerish. Mostly because we were teenagers.

The same year I came out to my grandmother as Wiccan, I also came out to her as bisexual. I think she handled the former just slightly better than the latter, and frankly, she handled it a lot better than most parents would.


Adulthood...
I moved out of my grandmother's house when I was 19. It was a PRISON.
It wasn't a prison. I was 19.  ;-)  She had rules because that's what parents do, it's their job to make the rules that keep us safe. But... like I said, I was 19. I moved out.

And at 20 I moved back in. (Oh, and somewhere in there, I'd had my heart broken by the Second One True Love of my Life. That had nothing to do with why I moved back home, however.)

There were still rules in my grandmother's. I followed them much more gracefully than I had a year before. That had nothing to do with having my heart broken, either.

I went back to school, met the man who eventually became my first husband. Christopher and I were married in June of '93, I think it was. By February, I'd moved out (or, back in, I was with grandmother, again). There was nothing wrong with Chris or me or even us, we just didn't have the slightest idea what we were doing or why we were doing it. I'm very happy to say that we are still friends, he also suffered a second marriage, and is now married to a (third) wife and VERY happy. I'm happy for both of them. (Hey, third time sometimes really IS the charm!)

While I was recovering from the trauma of my first divorce (bad relationship or not, it still hurt to walk away from it), I spent a few months in Georgia, selling left handed mugs (and other REALLY gorgeous pottery) for Knox Steinbrecker, at the Georgia Rennissiance Festiaval. I met a lot of really great people; I wish I still kept in touch with them, but life happens and folks move on. Nonetheless, there are some very, very special individuals who will remain in my heart and my mind for the rest of my life. They helped me through a rough patch--and some of them didn't even know they were doing it! (But for those who did know... miss you. Love you. Thank you for turning me onto Harold and Maude and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Do you know who y'all are yet? Good!)

A couple of relationships and some interesting jobs later (I painted polyeurothane dead things for Gag Studio), my daughter's father entered the picture... and shortly thereafter, exited it. We were totally toxic as a couple. I pressed all of his buttons and he pressed all of mine, and I do not mean in a good way. We were almost coming to a point of being friendly (not to be confused with being friends) when he passed away, very, very suddenly. I think I was more in shock than anything else, when I got the news.

Back while I was still dating my first husband (when he was my boyfriend), I met this gorgeous, quiet, snarky, funny redheaded guy named Ed. We dated (sort of) during a rocky patch that Christopher and I went through, in which we broke up before getting back together and getting married way too fast. Then Ed and I dated again, after my daughter's father and I split up.

A few months after my daughter's father passed away, I had some health issues of my own... details are not necessary, except to say that humans should not be that shade of yellow, it just isn't flattering on anybody. When I got out of hospital, Ed had me come to stay with him, "while I recovered". I never left; slowly but surely more and more of my personal belongings started showing up, then my cat, then my furniture, and finally, I dug up my garden and replanted it here. (No, I am not joking. I transported my plants in bags and bins, taking many, many trips to get them all over here, including the day lillies that have been around since before my grandmother passed away, in '95.)


Education...

Amidst all this marrying and divorcing, having a daughter, getting sick, and moving flower beds, I was in and out of school, mostly having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I took art classes, anthro classes, English classes, and anything else that looked interesting or fun. Finally, In 2007, I enrolled in a two year library program at Oakland Community College. I graduated in 2009. With 104 college credits. Because I took a LOT of classes.

In 2008, I started painting again. No special reason, I simply dug out my watercolors and went to town. 


Writing...

The year I had my health issues, I ended up with a lot of time to kill, so I wrote novel. It's about a hundred thousand words worth of Urban Fantasy novel about a private investigator who also happens to be the apprentice to a powerul Necromancer--not that Enid has any real desire to be a Necromancer herself, but sometimes in order to beat 'em, you have to join 'em. The book made its rounds, and remains unpublished. Eventually, it may make its rounds again... or I may self-publish it. I'll cross that bridge when it hatches. Or maybe I'll burn it when I'm standing on it. You get the idea...

Around the same time, I dug out some of my old Beauty and the Beast fanfiction, dusted it off, added a few characters, and published it to Fanfiction.net. It's a bit of Crossover Hell... oh, wait, my Torchwood readers know all about that! Yes, crossovers are still my favorite type of fanfiction.

After working on BatB for a bit, I wrote a Once Upon a Time in Mexico fic, and then, it happened. I started writing Torchwood. My life would NEVER be the same...

Every artist owes something to someone. Here's a concise version of my list:

Mrs. Stockman, Ms. Good, and Arlene Green, just for being awesome.

My fanfiction readers, particularly my Torchwood readers, for helping me hone my craft, and encouraging me to start writing original fiction again (even though it's meant a LOT less fanfiction for you to read).  Several of my readers became writers in "my" crazy AU'verse. Others became friends. Some are just acquaintences I feel all warm and fuzzy about. Hopefully all y'all know who you are, too, because you mean the world to me. (Roo, Whit, Leigh, "Mom", Katie, Judy, Jill... I know I'm leaving tons of names out.)

I will always be indebted to my friends, the people who have stuck by me through some pretty rocky times... and to my new friends who haven't been with me through the worst of it, but who have been there through COUNTLESS edits and re-edits of my book(s).  And some pretty rough stuff, too...



My life now...

With the love and support of my husband, I started showing my art work at science fiction conventions again in 2009, after a nearly 20 year absence. I plan to continue doing sci-fi cons, showing my work, selling  books, and doing panels as long as they're willing to let me get up and talk.

As of April 2012, I am a real live (as opposed to zombie) romance author! 


A few of my favorite things...

Chocolate, coffee, Italian cooking, Mexican food. Gardening. Astronomy. Fantasy and Science fiction (the light, easy to read stuff). Men kissing. My husband kissing me.

Did I mention chocolate?

Johnny Depp. John Barrowman (damn, can that man sing!)

I covered chocolate, but you got the coffee part, too, right?


My favorite Doctors (in order):

David Tennant, Sylverster McCoy, Tom Baker

Vavorite Companions (NOT in order)

Ace (totally my favorite)
Jack Harkness (of course!) he's probably my second favorite;
    I'd love to see him and Ace meet... oh, wait, I write fanfic, I *can* see it...
Donna Noble  (a close tie for first with Ace)
    I know she wasn't popular, but *I* loved her
    the only thing I don't like about Donna is the whole saving the universe thing
Polly Wright
Harry Sullivan
Amy Pond
    the only thing I don't like about Amy is the whole saving the universe thing
Rory Williams (Pond)
Liz Shaw (she was so underappreciated!)
Leela (a close tie for second with Jack)
Brigidier Lethbridge-Stewart (also way near the top of the list of faves)
Romana
Turlough
   another companion who wasn't wildly popular, but I loved him,
   even when he was trying to kill the Doctor
Adric
   oddly (to me) not popular either... I guess I like the underdogs
Susan (its hard not to love the Doctor's granddaughter)
Sarah Jane Smith


and... if you can't identify half these names, time to hit the Internet!

Mulberry...

That silly looking hairless dog in the picture with me is Mulberry. Don't worry, he's supposed to look like that. He's a xoloitzcuintli. He's named after the title character (Mulberry) from a short lived British Comedy/Drama starring Karl Howman.

As many people know, we lost Mulberry in December (2012); my husband who "doesn't like dogs" was online looking for another rescue xolo the first night that he was truly gone (he'd spent about a week at the vet trying to figure out what was wrong, keep down food, etc.; we did get to bring him home for his very last night, for which I'm grateful. I still miss him, but I am very happy to say that the day that Ed went looking he found an amzing boy that we named Jack, who came home to us a few days before Christmas. Jack was in a forster program in Ohio. We are grateful to the wonderful people at Kind Hands 4 Paws for rescuing Jack from the pound where he'd ended up after his owners decided he was too much work for them. Xolos require a little special care, but honestly it's common sense stuff...but there are saddly just people out there who don't realize how much work a dog can be.

Jack participated in a prison training program--no, he wasn't in prison, but he was trained by men who are. It's an amazing opportunity for both canines and inmates.

Jack has since passed his AKC Good Citizen Test. We're so very happy to have him as part of our family.