For readers tired of clichés, apologists and “blaming the victim,” award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader brings refreshing insight to important historical episodes and personalities based on sound historical research. Helena holds a PhD in history and is a career diplomat, but far from writing dry historical tomes, she conveys the drama and excitement of the events and societies described and delivers her stories through the eyes of complex and compelling characters—male and female—drawn from the pages of history.
Helena was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of a professor, and travelled abroad for the first time at the age of two, when her father went to teach at the University of Wasada in Tokyo, Japan. Later the family lived in Brazil, England and Kentucky, but home was always the coast of Maine. There, her father’s family had roots and an old, white clapboard house perched above the boatyard in East Blue Hill.
It was the frequent travel and exposure to different cultures, peoples and heritage that inspired Helena to start writing creatively and to focus on historical fiction. She wrote her first novel in second grade, but later made a conscious decision not try to earn a living from writing. She never wanted to be forced to write what was popular, rather than what was in her heart.
Helena graduated with honors in History from the University of Michigan, added a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from Patterson School, University of Kentucky, and rounded off her education with a PhD in History cum Laude from the University of Hamburg, awarded for a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She worked in the private sector as a research analyst, and an investor relations manager in both the U.S. and Germany.
Helena published her first book in 1993, when her dissertation was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published three additional non-fiction books, starting with Sisters in Arms about women pilots in WWII, The Blockade Breakers about the Berlin Airlift, and Codename Valkyrie, a biography of General Olbricht, based on her dissertation.
Helena a career American diplomat currently serving in Africa. In June 2010 she was awarded the “Dr. Bernard LaFayette Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting the Institutionalization of Nonviolence Ideals in Nigeria” by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria.
She grew up sailing on the Maine coast and served as a petty officer on the sail-training schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller. She has owned four horses over the years and remains a resolute horsewoman. She owns property in what was once Lacedaemon, which she visits regularly and where she and her husband Herbert intend to retire.
Visit her website or Amazon page for a complete description and reviews of her publications. Follow her blog for updates on current works in progress, recent reviews and excerpts. For more on the crusader kingdoms and Balian d’Ibelin visit: http://www.defenderofjerusalem.com or follow her blog on the Crusader Kingdoms at: http://defendingcrusaderkingdoms.blogspot.com.