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This is a fantastic series about two people with tragic pasts who learn to heal with the help of each other, some great friends and some cupcakes & tattoos. I loved reading Hayden and Tenley’s love story as they navigated the waters of moving past the heart break that has followed them through the years. In celebration of the the release of the final book in their story, I had the opportunity to interview the author, Helena Hunting. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend you add it to your TBR.


Where did the idea for this story come from? How did the characters of Hayden and Tenley evolve?

Hayden and Tenley’s story developed as a result of events that were highlighted in the media, and stuck with me. A groom and his groomsmen were in a limo on the way to the church when a tractor trailer jackknifed killing everyone in the limo, and leaving a devastated bride at the altar. I couldn’t get past the extreme loss, or the emotional scars that would be left behind.

I wanted to explore how someone who had experienced such horrific trauma would be able to find a way to move on. Hayden becomes the one person who understands and relates to Tenley, because he too has survived a devastating loss. Body modification in the form of tattoos gave them a way to connect, allowing them to find peace and healing in the art and each other.

Both Hayden and Tenley have tragic pasts – ones that they constantly beat themselves about over and over. What is it that they found in each other to help them begin to heal?

In each other they found a person who could understand their pain, and the reason it consumed them. It takes Tenley a long time to come to terms with her feelings for Hayden, but eventually she embraces their connection beyond a physical level. When she finally lets him in, he’s able to empathize with what she’s gone through because of his own losses.

There are two novellas, Cupcakes & Ink and Between the Cracks, that come before Inked Armor. Why did you write these? What benefit do you think your readers will get from reading these?

Cupcakes and Ink is a glimpse into Tenley and Hayden’s worlds before they collide. We see Tenley just as she starts to settle into her new life. This prequel gives the reader an idea of where Tenley is at emotionally when she first arrives in Chicago. She’s been isolated for a long time, and while her plan is to keep to herself, human beings are intrinsically social creatures. Eventually, the craving for connection outweighs her need for self-sufficiency. Hayden, on the other hand has spent years burying his past. When we meet him in Cupcakes and Ink, he’s at turning point in his life and Tenley is his catalyst for change. He just doesn’t know it at first.

Between the Cracks was something I felt compelled to write because I wanted to give readers an outsider view of Hayden’s downward spiral. I also think Chris is often misunderstood, because he’s seen through Hayden’s and Tenley’s eyes in Clipped Wings. Chris’s history with Hayden causes dissension between them and that colors Hayden’s experiences with him. Chris isn’t angry about the rule being broken so much as he’s hurt that Hayden would feel the need to keep things from him. They’ve been friends for a long time, and I wanted to show just how important their friendship is.

One of my favorite things about this series is that you made tattoos almost like a secondary character. They weren’t just aesthetic art that just happened to be on the characters. You made the art of designing and getting a tattoo and integral part of the story. What made you decide to do write about tattoos in this way?

It all has to do with perception. Tattoos are a form of art. Like any other art form, they’re born from an idea and shaped into a creation. Just because it doesn’t conform to an “idealized” medium of artistic expression doesn’t mean it should be negated as art. Not every tattoo has to have the same weight and meaning that Tenley’s does for her, but they can be an external representation of self. I also felt it was essential to convey the importance of the relationship between the artist and the client, particularly if the tattoo has the significance that Tenley’s does.

In these books, there are those who look at people, like Hayden, who have a love of body modification and make judgments about them. What is your thoughts on people who do this?

Generally, people judge because of ignorance or a lack of understanding. I don’t begrudge people their opinions, everyone is entitled to have them, but that doesn’t mean it’s accurate or based on fact. Just because a person looks a certain way, doesn’t mean they ascribe to the stereotype attributed to them.

What was your favorite scene to write? Hardest scene?

I love the scene where Hayden buys Tenley’s Christmas present. It’s one of those moments that shows just how much he cares about getting it right. Really, any scene where Hayden’s softer side comes out were fun to write.

The hardest scene was Hayden’s breakdown, when things really start to fall apart for him. That kind of vulnerability is challenging and as much as I enjoyed writing damaged characters, that was Hayden’s lowest point.

What is next for you? What can readers expect from Chris and Sarah’s story? Do you have any other books in the series planned?

I’m looking forward to sharing more of Chris and Sarah in Cracks in the Armor. They’re a very different set of characters and fun to write. Chris is more laid back, but he’s got his own dark past to contend with and readers will get to see more of that. I have a couple other manuscripts I’d like to work on, so hopefully you’ll get to see more from me in the future!



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CRACKS IN ARMOR (#2.5) – Chris & Sarah
(June 23, 2014)

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★ ★ ★


Gallery Books has given me SIGNED PAPERBACK SETS of CLIPPED WINGS & INKED ARMOR to give away. Two lucky winners will each receive a signed set of the books. Since the books are be sent directly from the publisher, the winners must have a US address or know someone with a US address in order to win.

Two Winners – Open Internationally

helena hunting giveaway


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