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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Murder directs retiree’s novels

Helen Hogan, left, works with Mary Jane Jones in her senior education creative writing class on South Campus. Hogan has recently published her third novel.  Photo by Julissa Treviño/The Collegian
Helen Hogan, left, works with Mary Jane Jones in her senior education creative writing class on South Campus. Hogan has recently published her third novel. Photo by Julissa Treviño/The Collegian

By Julissa Treviño/south news editor

Helen Hogan, left, works with Mary Jane Jones in her senior education creative writing class on South Campus. Hogan has recently published her third novel.  Photo by Julissa Treviño/The Collegian
Helen Hogan, left, works with Mary Jane Jones in her senior education creative writing class on South Campus. Hogan has recently published her third novel. Photo by Julissa Treviño/The Collegian

Murder, kidnap and horses. Former South Campus English professor Helen Hogan combines her interests in her latest novel, Unicorns Don’t Wear Shoes.

Hogan taught on South Campus for 30 years, starting with its opening in 1967.

“At one time or another, I taught every course in the English department,” she said.

As an instructor, she designed several new courses for the campus including a self-paced testing and practice course for students who barely failed the entrance exam and the American Literature ITV class.

Her contributions to South Campus didn’t stop when she retired from teaching.

Since then, she has donated books to the South Library on creative writing.

“I think it’s important to show gratitude,” she said. “Also, books may give their readers part of the joy I had when reading them.”

Her love of writing, however, goes back to her days in grade school. But it was only after she began teaching that she started to take writing novels seriously.

“Sometime in the ’80s my husband challenged me,” she said.

Soon after, she joined a read-and-critique support group and began writing novels.

“When the first was accepted [for publication], I was thrilled,” she said, even though the publisher went bankrupt a week after hers was printed.

Hogan’s most recent novel, Unicorns Don’t Wear Shoes, is a mystery that links a murder to a kidnapping, and then to the FBI and Homeland Security, not to mention the setting: a farm with horses.

Hogan’s love for horses traces back to age 3. In her early 20s, she got her first horse, “a lop-eared racetrack reject.”

“All of my novels are murder mysteries, so mystery buffs usually like them, and horse people like the horses in the background,” she said.

Hogan has published two other novels, Warning Shot and Driven to Win, which include very descriptive settings, sometimes carrying the stories.

“My first novel (Warning Shot) was started with a scene and wandered along until a crime and overall problem developed,” she said.

“It takes place in Kingsville, Texas, in 1965 and covers the fall semester,” she said. “I try to convey the feel of the South Texas landscape and attitudes of the time as I moved there that year.”

Currently, she is reworking a novel that takes place in Colorado and working on a new story set in Ireland.

Hogan also continues her career at South Campus, teaching a continuing education creative writing course once a week.

When it comes to writing, Helen Hogan is well qualified to give advice.

“Write because you can’t not write. Writing can open or enhance many careers, for the good writer has organizing skills and confidence, as well as verbal skills,” she said.

“Communication can save relation-ships and open doors,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, but never be so cocky that you can’t learn.”

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