I am delighted to welcome Helena Fairfax today 🙂
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I live in the village of Saltaire, near Bradford, and I write contemporary romance/women’s fiction – and sometimes romantic mysteries, because I love reading them so much myself! I’m also an editor, and I love reading other writers’ manuscripts and helping them develop their stories. Basically, I love anything to do with books and reading!
When not immersed in a book, I’m generally out walking on the Yorkshire moors, near where I live, with my rescue dog, Lexi. We’re out there every day, rain or shine, and we both love it. It’s great to watch the changing seasons and the wildlife, and to blow the cobwebs away.
Besides reading, I also knit all sorts, from babies’ cardies to adult pullovers – once even knitting an entire Royal Wedding! I do my knitting whilst binge-watching box sets on Netflix.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
My ideas come from so many different places. It’s hard to pinpoint just when a story comes together. I quite often have the seed of an idea while watching a film or TV programme. I had the spark of inspiration for my latest release, Felicity at the Cross Hotel, after watching a Bollywood film. I’ve become a big fan of Bollywood – I love the romance and drama of it – and the heroine of a film called Jab We Met inspired my own heroine. Of course our settings are totally different – you couldn’t get more different than the Lake District and Delhi! – but the heroines share the same characteristics of cheerfulness and liveliness.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
My first ever novel, The Silk Romance, is set in Lyon, where I once worked as an au pair. My downstairs neighbour was an incredibly good-looking man – dark and tanned in that southern French way. He already had a girlfriend (of course!) and I was very much in love with my boyfriend in England at the time, but I based the hero of The Silk Romance on him.
How do you pick your characters names?
I love symbolism and I often pick a name that suits the character’s personality. The hero of The Antique Love is called Kurt Bold – he’s a quiet man, and also brave. “Kurt by name and curt by nature”, as the heroine says!
I loved giving the hero and heroine of Felicity at the Cross Hotel names which are definitely symbolic. Felicity means “happiness”, because she’s lively and cheerful, and Patrick Cross is the owner of the Cross Hotel – a place that’s been dogged by bad luck and tragedy.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I write contemporary romance, and the most important thing in a romance is to work out what it is that’s keeping the hero and heroine apart. Why can’t they be together from page one? The thing driving them apart is called the romantic conflict. Before I start a book, I work out just what it is that’s going to keep my two characters from being together and then I think up a series of situations that are going to make it as hard as possible for them to admit they are in love. Forcing them apart is a cruel way to treat them – but they do always get their happy ending!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
That is such a difficult question! Jane Austen definitely has to be on the list (the best romance writer ever), Georgette Heyer (I grew up on her books, and re-read them often), Mary Stewart, who writes gripping romantic suspense, Charles Dickens, whose books are full of drama and brilliant characters, and a sci-fi author called Stanislaw Lem, who wrote one of my favourite romantic heroes in a book called Return from the Stars.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would love to meet Shakespeare. I’ve always been curious to know what he was like. How did he dream up these amazing stories, with characters who still seem real today? I don’t know what I’d ask him. It would be great to ask him something personal, like whether he was truly in love with his wife, but I’d probably be too tongue-tied to speak.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes, books were an escape for me. I came to England from Uganda when I was six, and I found everything cold and bewildering. I began reading at a very young age and I found books helped me make sense of the world.
When did you start to write?
I’ve been writing on and off for years, but I didn’t sit down and write my first novel until about five years ago. I wish now that I’d started much earlier.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I’d love to change the ending to Gone with the Wind. I remember the first time I saw the film, and being so disappointed that it ended in this way. Perhaps it really couldn’t end any other way – but I’d love to rewind the story so that Rhett Butler has the happy ending he deserved.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Books are quite personal things, so I don’t think there is any book I wish I’d written. Those books belong to their own authors. I’m always looking to the next book I’m going to write – and wishing it was already written!
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
I’m not sure I’d write my own autobiography. I don’t think I could make my life interesting enough. I find it much more fun writing about fictional characters!
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I love the Poldark books and I’ve been loving the TV series. I think I’d take Demelza for a coffee in my local café. She seems like she’d be really good fun and she could do with a break from all the stresses and tragedy in her life. I’d love to buy her a massive piece of hot chocolate fudge cake and whipped cream and talk about the trials of being married to Ross Poldark.
What are you working on right now?
This year I started working on a non-fiction book about the lives of women in Halifax, Yorkshire, from 1850-1950. The book is due for release next year, to coincide with the anniversary of the first women getting the vote. Working on this book has given me the idea for a novel, loosely based on some of the brilliant women I’ve discovered while doing my research.
Do you have a new release due?
My latest release is Felicity at the Cross Hotel. It’s a feel good summer read, set in the Lake District. Fliss Everdene works for her father, who owns a global chain of corporate hotels. Fliss and her dad have been having several rows, and she’s conflicted about his ruthless way of taking over ailing hotels. She decides to take a break for a while, to stay at the Cross Hotel in the Lakes.
Patrick Cross is the Cross Hotel’s new owner. His father has recently died, and he’s inherited a business with lots of problems, a runaway barmaid, and a grumpy chef. Patrick is glad of Fliss’s help – until he learns she’s a member of the notorious Everdene family, and her dad is waiting in the wings…
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
It’s varied each time, but to be honest, I’m generally exhausted by publication day, and I’d be happy having a quiet glass of wine at home!
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I have a newsletter that readers can subscribe to, and I love it when people reply. I reply to every email I receive. I’m giving away a free story to all new subscribers at the moment, and you can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT
If you are interested in my editing services, I have a website here: www.helenafarifax.com
Besides the above, I also post photos of the moors and other places I’ve visited on social media.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Helena 🙂
Thanks so much for having me, Kerry, and for your great questions!
Publisher: Helena Fairfax (7th July 2017)
“Helena Fairfax writes feel good romances that are guaranteed to leave a smile on your face!” Elaine Everest, Sunday Times bestselling author
A quaint hotel in the Lake District. The Cross Hotel is the perfect getaway. Or is it?
Felicity Everdene needs a break from the family business. Driving through the Lake District to the Cross Hotel, past the shining lake and the mountains, everything seems perfect. But Felicity soon discovers all is not well at the Cross Hotel …
Patrick Cross left the village of Emmside years ago never intending to return, but his father has left him the family’s hotel in his will, and now he’s forced to come back. With a missing barmaid, a grumpy chef, and the hotel losing money, the arrival of Felicity Everdene from the notorious Everdene family only adds to Patrick’s troubles.
With so much to overcome, can Felicity and Patrick bring happiness to the Cross Hotel … and find happiness for themselves?
Praise for Helena Fairfax: “Ms Fairfax’s writing is lovely, romantic, evocative and sweet with a hint at an old fashioned love story…” Anita Davidson, Author
“Helena Fairfax spins a romantic tale…” Robbi Perna Phd. Author and lecturer
“Who can resist Helena’s reasons for writing romances, which include her optimistic view of humanity?” Kenneth Hicks, Author