1: How did you start writing?
I started imagining stories in my head when I was bored commuting by train every day. The days when it was rainy and cold were really bad – everyone all pressed up together, sneezing and coughing and wet clothes steaming. It was too packed even to open a book, so in my head I pictured stories set somewhere beautifully warm, like the south of France – with a hot French hero! Took my mind off the journey, anyway!
2: What is the one thing you most enjoy about writing? Least enjoy?
I love to write scenes full of high drama or emotion. It’s a great feeling to create a world where two people meet and fall in love, and to be able to steer that world so that those people get the happy ending they deserve. And when a reader tells me how much they loved my story, that gives me more pleasure than anything!
I least enjoy the times when I have a scene in my head that I want to convey, but I can’t get the right words down for it, and I have to keep writing and rewriting until it feels right. That’s very frustrating, and often makes me lose confidence in myself.
3: If you could go back in time and talk to anyone, who would you speak to? Why?
Apart from the people I’ve loved who have died, I’d like to go back to meet Charles Dickens. He wrote stories that people adored in his time, and they couldn’t wait to read the next instalment. They were full of fantastical characters, and he had a lot of compassion for the underdog and the less well off in life. I’d like to meet him and discover what sort of man he was.
4: When you write do you plot out the story or do you let your muse run wild?
I used to let the muse run wild when I first started writing, but that led to a lot of rewriting of drafts. Now I structure it more in advance – but not too much, as I don’t like to feel hemmed in by an outline.
5: Tell us a bit about your book.
The Antique Love is set in an antique shop in London. The shop’s owner, Penny, takes on a project refurbishing an old Victorian house for its American owner, Kurt. Kurt’s a logical man, who believes the head should rule the heart – but when he meets Penny, he finds love isn’t quite as logical as he thinks!
6: What inspired the story?
I got the idea when I was feeling really ill, with a high temperature, and was mindlessly watching the TV. A programme came on that was all about travelling around antique shops in England, and I started thinking how wonderful it would be to own such a shop – and then my imagination just took off from there :)
7: Is this a series or a stand alone novel?
It’s a stand alone novel, but I might revisit it at some time. The heroine has a great friend, Tehmeena, and I’d quite like to write her story, too.
8: What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Don’t give up. Sit down to write, and get that book finished, no matter how much of a slog it is. Don’t give up. When you’ve sent off your manuscript, sit down to write the next book. Don’t give up. Read, read, read. And did I say don’t give up? :)
9: How do you balance writing with the demands of everyday life?
When I was working full time, I was always thinking of how to advance my plot, even when I was at work. I would write everywhere – on the train, waiting at a bus stop, whilst cooking tea. Now I’ve finished work, and it’s easier to balance the time, but I have a very stressed rescue dog who takes up a lot of my time. I write round her schedule!
10: How much research do you do for your writing?
I research everything. Even though my romances are contemporaries, there are always details that need checking. The Antique Love is set near London’s Richmond Park, for example, and I did a lot of research into the history of the park, and visited several times in order to incorporate the setting.
11: If you met a genie, what 3 things would you wish for? Why?
That’s a really good question. I’d wish for things on a global scale: an end to world poverty; an end to mental health problems; that every person in the world achieved the best he or she was capable of.
12: What is the one thing about the writing world that most surprised you?
How supportive other romance authors are, and the great friendships I’ve made.
13: What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a novel set in a hotel in the picturesque Lake District in northern England. The hotel owner has recently died, and his son has returned to try and restore the hotel’s finances. The hotel is beset by tragedy, and so the arrival of the heroine is like a breath of fresh air - but she, too, has left family problems behind her. Will her optimism and the hero’s strength of character be enough to keep them together? Or will the problems of their past catch up with them?
14: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I live near the Yorkshire moors, which is a beautiful area, and I walk there every day with my dog. I love to watch the wildlife and the changing seasons. When I’m not out walking, or writing, and after the day’s over, I like to sit in front of the TV with my knitting or a piece of tapestry.
15: What is the one thing you’d like people to know about you?
That’s another difficult question! Maybe I’d like them to know how much I like other people.
5 Bonus Questions
16: What’s your favorite color?
17: What’s your favorite food?
Christmas dinner (turkey and all the trimmings)
18: Favorite TV show?
19: Favorite Movie?
Here is the blurb to The Antique Love:
One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road, looking every inch the romantic hero. The shop’s owner, Penny Rosas, takes this handsome stranger for a cowboy straight from the pages of a book… but Kurt soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. He’s no romantic cowboy—his job is in the City, in the logical world of finance—and as far as Kurt is concerned, love and romance are just for dreamers. Events in his childhood have scarred his heart, showing him just how destructive passionate love can be. Now he’s looking for a wife, but wants a marriage based on logic and rational decisions. Penny is a firm believer in true love. She’s not the sensible wife Kurt’s looking for. But when he hires Penny to help refurbish his Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing new life into. The logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…
MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/now-available-in-ebook/the-antique-love-detail
Apple iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id692391079
You can find Helena on her blog: www.helenafairfax.com
Please get in touch – I love to meet new people!
Thanks so much for having me, Kat, and for your soul-searching questions! It’s been lovely meeting you here!