Thursday, June 21, 2012

Retro Rita Interview With Dear Helen Hartman

Hi all, Retro Rita here.

I'm super excited to introduce you to one of my favorite bloggers, Annie who pens Dear Helen Hartman.  Dishing timeless advice on modern dilemmas, all with a vintage attitude, Annie is witty, hilarious, a bit snarky, and fantastically sardonic ~ I love her!  Here's a peek into her world (pix courtesy of Annie):

Retro Rita:  Tell us about Helen. Who is she? Is she your alter ego, a culmination of real people you know, or...?
Annie:  Helen is all me and a little more.  She started as a character in a book I was writing.  Editor after editor said great things about the book but the deals fell through and I couldn’t let Helen go, so I started just having fun.

Retro Rita:  How and why did you begin blogging?
Annie:  I have been an author for years but the joy had started to fade then I found blogging and love the freedom and fun of it.  I began reading blogs and got hooked on the community, on all the creativity.

Retro Rita:  Where did you get your hilarious sense of humor?
Annie:  If wealth was measured in laughter, my family would be one of the richest in the world.  We have always laughed.  Helen’s humor comes from my belief that comedy is like a vintage hair style – you have to be willing to go bigger than seems sensible to get the most fabulous result.

Retro Rita:  Describe your blog header picture. Is this Helen? Is it really Annie dressed up as Helen?
Annie:  Helen has way more style than Annie.  Between us, Annie dresses like a 4 year old with a closet full of GrrAnimals outfits fresh from Sears.  So naturally, Helen has to be the face of the blog.

Retro Rita:  You blog about many issues, what’s your favorite subject or best question ever?
Annie:  My favorites are always reader questions.  When I don’t have one I go with what I want to talk about, which you’d think would be more fun but the most fun is taking what someone asks and running with it – like a kid with scissors.  Someone could lose an eye.

Retro Rita:  Where do the questions originate?
Annie:  Some are from things happening in the news, some are inspired by my finds either in magazines or at estate sales but many are from readers and other bloggers.  I LOVE those and if someone has Facebook, Twitter or a blog they want featured on Helen’s blog, asking a question is the way to go.

Retro Rita:  What subject gets the most feedback?
Annie:  I’ve been trying to figure that out.  Since I blog for pure joy I don’t do a lot of analysis of views and so on.  I know bloggers will get this - often the most viewed post doesn’t have the most comments.  What usually gets people looking are really interesting vintage ads, but what gets people talking are issues they can relate to - men and kids and sometimes advice taken directly from old magazines.

Retro Rita:  What is your favorite collectible?
Annie:  Argh!  I am one of those who collects something obsessively for a while then switches.  I have many vintage tablecloths and kitchen linens – the printed kind and the kitschier the better.  I also have a growing stack of vintage magazines and recently have been on an angel kick.

Retro Rita:  You’ve posted some pictures of amazing vintage goodies ~ any plans to sell them?
Annie:  Just recently I’ve been thinking of an “As Seen On Helen Hartman” Etsy or other shop because I do collect then cull and start new collections all the time.  Also, there are times when I find something so fab I buy it and later realize I have no place for it.

Retro Rita:  Who are your writing influences?
Annie:  I write fiction but read nonfiction.  I adore southern writers and biographies.  With blogs, I am inspired by everyone.  You cannot find more variety of voices and ideas than out there in the blogosphere.

Retro Rita:  How did your obsession with vintage advertising begin?
Annie:  My Dad’s father was a junk man (or became one when he lost his fortune).  My mom’s sister was a wanna be antique dealer so as the baby of the family, I got dragged around to auctions and yard sales and antique stores then later became the keeper of the family junk.  So I love all vintage stuff but then I discovered a stash of QUICK magazines at a flea market and realized I could have ALL THINGS VINTAGE without taking up much room.  I guess magazines were the blogs and Pinterest of their day and I LOVE everything about them but the mold.  To which I am highly allergic.  That should tell you what a sickness this is.

Retro Rita:  What’s your favorite vintage recipe and why?
Annie:  Yikes!  I tend to look at vintage recipes for what is terribly, terribly WRONG with them.  Right now I am adoring anything with SPAM because there seems to be NOTHING that SPAM won’t advertise it goes well with, and NONE of it looks like something I’d try to cook, much less eat.

Retro Rita:  What do you do when not blogging?
Annie:  For work I do customer service for our family construction business.  I think this is one reason Helen has such a dim view of others – I actually have to deal with “others” on a day to day basis.  I also have a special needs daughter and a houseful of pets and a hubby.  And I’m an author.  Right now I just do the occasional series romance under the name Annie Jones but have also written as Luanne Jones and Natalie Patrick (my kid’s names).  I just turned in a book and now I am thinking Helen might need to begin her own writing career.  Swinging 60s retro romances anyone?

Retro Rita:  What would you do if you won the bazillion dollar lottery?
Annie:  I would be Helen all the time.  By that I mean I’d pay off my debts, put some back for my daughter’s future and stop being nice to people for money – I mean quit my job in customer service.  Then I’d blog more and turn Helen lose to write advice books, romances, even her own YouTube now and then, which has long been on the agenda but never gets done.

Annie:  Thank you so much for the interview.  I love your blog, even if I don’t always comment, and always find something fun and informative in it.
Retro Rita:  Well aren't you sweet, Annie!  I've had a swell time getting to know you.

I do hope you'll pop over to Annie's blog ~ think you'll find it's a delightful place, full of clever fun!

***Special giveaway***  Share a comment on today's post because Annie's going to give away one of her books!  I'll randomly draw a winner June 25th!


DearHelenHartman said...

Thanks for the interview, it was such fun to do!

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

Lovely interview Cindy :) We love Annie and her zaney blog! Thanks for helping us get to know her better!!
Karla & Karrie

Perfectly Printed said...

What a fun post!! And a new blog to follow!


Mimos da Claralú! said...

Wow! What maximum! You are more fancy my friend, what an honor this is not it? Congratulations for the post, soon you will be honored and interviewed ...

Kathryn Ross said...

Hiya, Cindy! Great interview with our own Helen Hartman - she's a hoot and a half! Found you through her fb post linking in and was thrilled with your story of your escape from the city to the joys of a more simpler life. Living the dream, I'd say! And, your vintage textiles - YES - wish I had kept more from my grandmother's hording stash a decade ago! Hadn't even heard of blogging then - did it even exist? Couldn't imagine what to do with it all - but now - yep! I'd bee all over that Etsy thing. The Lord had other plans for me and I am joyful in living creatively and nostalgically - and blogging all and sundry at The Writer's Reverie. Following you now and hopeful for inspiration to the purpose!

Peace said...

I love me some Helen, and now I'm lovin' your blog as well! :OD

Becky said...

I wanna be Helen when I grow up!!!

Tami Von Zalez said...

Always fun to learn more about a blogger, esp. Helen aka Annie.

You are picking the winner on my birthday - good lucks to ME!

Shirley Hatfield said...

When I was young I wanted to be Erma dreams were small. Now I want to be Helen Hartman! Dream Big!!! What a fun interview! =D

Alycia Nichols said...

Hilarious interview!!! I love reading "Dear Helen Hartman" each week, and this was the perfect stage for her to reveal HER alter ego, Annie! :-) Very entertaining!

Jenny's Heart said...

I visit with Helen every Pink Saturday :)
It was lovely to see her here today!

Holly said...

Spoken in Dear Helen Hartman style! What a fun interview!

Little Susie Home Maker said...

Reto Rita! You are a good interviewer! I learned so much about Helen! Gotta go visit here blog now!

NanaDiana said...


Donna said...

Cute! Gotta go visit her blog :)

Jann Olson said...

Hi Cindy, I enjoyed this interview so much. I hop over to visit Helen often. She's always good for a laugh or two. It was fun learning more about her. Thanks for the opportunity to be in the give away drawing.