AUTHOR: Helena Fairfax
BOOK TITLE: The Antique Love
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a British author, and I live in the north of England, in an old Victorian mill village called Saltaire. Saltaire is a UNESCO preserved site of special historic interest, and a wonderful place to live. There is always plenty going on in the way of exhibitions, festivals, art and writing groups. Besides that, the village is right on the edge of the moors, where the Brontë sisters found so much of their inspiration.
2. What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I take my rescue dog walking on the moors every day. She’s a troubled dog, and the moors are perfect for her, as there is so much space and freedom to run about. It’s wonderful to experience the changing seasons in this rugged landscape, and I’ve learned so much about the wildlife. Of course whilst I’m walking, I’m often thinking of my writing! :)
When I get time, I also enjoy needlework and knitting. It’s a great hobby to have, and very therapeutic. It’s also perfect now the winter weather is drawing in!
3. What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
The toughest criticism is having a book rejected. Rejection is never easy to deal with but I try not to take it personally. I have a lot more confidence in my writing nowadays – especially now I have two published books which have received great reviews – so I try and learn from rejection, and really try and look at my writing objectively. What needs to change, in order for this book to be accepted? Have I approached the right publisher? Once I’ve worked that out, I either sit down and rewrite or try a different publisher.
The biggest compliment I received was my first review from a stranger on Amazon. Someone bought my book and enjoyed it – that really bolstered my confidence and made me want to continue writing!
4. Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I’m the world’s slowest writer. I quite often have writer’s block. In order to get through it, I force myself to sit and write every day. Sometimes what I write has to be deleted the next day, but I find to my surprise that quite often it’s totally workable, even when every word has been painstakingly forced out! The secret is to just force yourself to open the document and continue where you left off.
5. Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I wrote my first novel through the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. The RNA has a New Writers’ Scheme, and I submitted my MS to them. I received invaluable advice from my reader. The best thing I learned was to focus on the source of conflict when writing a romance (although I’m sure this advice could apply to a lot of other genres). Now when I’m thinking up a story the first thing I decide on is “What is the conflict between the hero and heroine?” I try and make the conflict as deep as possible, so that the reader will wonder how on earth it can possibly be resolved so that the couple can achieve their HEA.
6. What are your current projects?
I’ve just written a short story for a Winter Anthology produced by fellow authors in a group I belong to call Exquisite Quills. The anthology will be free on Smashwords at the end of October.
Besides that, I’m working on another romance, but this time it is longer than the usual contemporaries. I’m hoping to have it finished and submitted by the end of the year.
7. How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I have a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax
My blog is www.helenafairfax.com and my Twitter address is @helenafairfax
Please do get in touch – I love to meet new people!
1. What genre do you write in and why?
My first two novels were short contemporary romances. I had a lot of fun writing them. One piece of feedback I received was that readers loved them so much they wanted more! And so my next novel is going to be longer – but still a romance, and one that the reader can get swept up in.
2. Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
My current contemporary romance is called The Antique Love. My heroine, Penny, owns an antique shop in London. She’s a great dreamer and a romantic. When she meets Wyoming man Kurt Bold she thinks he’s a completely romantic hero – but unfortunately Kurt doesn’t believe in romance. He’s an accountant, and thinks love should be ruled by the head, not the heart!
3. What gave you the idea for this particular book?
I was lying on my settee once feeling really ill and too feverish to read (yes, that ill!) So I flicked through the TV channels, and came across a great series of programmes set in antique shops all around Britain. That’s when I began to think how wonderful it would be to own such a shop…And so gradually my story took root!
4. Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
Penny, the heroine, has some back story which I tried to give some depth to. Her mother was a famous film star, who died when Penny was a young child. Penny’s mother was talented and beautiful and after her death Penny idolised her, but I tried to put some perspective on this by having Penny’s grandfather explain to her that her mother wasn’t perfect. She could be wilful and hot-headed. Once someone has died, it’s easy to convince yourself they had no flaws.
I like to try and make all my characters well-rounded people, with good and bad traits, and that includes the secondary characters.
5. Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
Even though it’s a contemporary romance, I still had to do a certain amount of research. The hero buys a house near Richmond Park in London, for example. I researched the history of Richmond Park, which is a fascinating place, and the oldest Royal Park in London. If you’re interested in finding out more about this beautiful location in the middle of a great city, I have written a post about its royal history on my blog, with some photos: http://helenafairfax.com/2013/08/16/richmond-park-incorporating-setting-in-the-theme-of-your-novel/
1. What books have most influenced your life?
As an influence on my writing, then of course I would have to say Jane Austen. She wrote the perfect romance in Pride and Prejudice. Besides Jane Austen, I also admire Georgette Heyer, who wrote sparkling dialogue and adorable characters in her Regency romances.
As an influence on my life I would choose a completely different kind of novel! Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5. I think Vonnegut’s novel is a compassionate and fascinating response to the trauma he suffered during the bombing of Dresden in WWII. It’s no romance - but it had a big effect on me!
2. What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favourite part of being an author is definitely the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made all over the world since my book was published. I didn’t expect it, and it’s been a wonderful journey!
My least favourite part is having to promote my book, and blow my own trumpet. I hate it!
Penny, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I really enjoyed answering your thought-provoking questions. Thanks for being such a great hostess!
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…