Good morning Helen and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Hello, and thank you for having me here today.
I live in Yorkshire with my husband, two almost-adults and a Jekyll & Hyde cat – antiseptic cream is always close at hand! When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading – if my eyes aren’t too tired from being at a screen a lot of the time. I don’t watch much TV nowadays – maybe the odd movie or sitcom, but a series has to be really good to keep my attention. I try to go for a short walk once a day to blow away the cobwebs, and I enjoy treating myself to a coffee and a chat with friends when I can.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? How did your journey begin?
As a child, I loved reading (and rereading) Enid Blyton’s ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ books. I wanted to create whole new worlds the way she did, so I started writing stories in a special notebook. I continued to write as a hobby in my teens, and then in my early twenties, I sent a couple of romances off to a publisher with no success. I stopped writing while I raised my family and later went back to work (no time and too tired!) but as the kids grew older, the urge to write was really beginning to nag at me. I took it up again about six years ago, and decided I would do my best to get published.
If you were asked to write something completely different from your usual genre, what would it be and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard question! I love the genre I’m writing now, but I very much admire writers who can concoct a decent thriller. I know for certain that I couldn’t write one myself, but I wish I could!
Plotter or Panster? What works best for you?
Ha! Well, I used to be a pantser – I don’t really like to do a detailed outline at the start. I’ll have a basic premise in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I like to allow my characters to take me where they want to go.
However, now that I’m writing as part of a series, I’m having to learn to work differently and plan ahead more. It’s taking some getting used to!
Do you prefer music or silence when writing? If the former, have you a favourite artist?
I much prefer silence while I’m writing or editing. If I do have music on, it can’t have lyrics or I will get distracted.
You’ve recently secured a book contract with Bookouture. Can you tell us something about that and also your new book The Little French Guesthouse which is due out in April?
I was thrilled to sign with Bookouture! I had a couple of romances published by a U.S. digital press over the last couple of years, but The Little French Guesthouse is in a different genre – cheekier, more down-to-earth chick lit/women’s fiction – and I really wanted to find the right home for it. I think I have . . . and it will be a three-book series!
The Little French Guesthouse is told from the point of view of Emmy Jamieson whose relationship with her boyfriend is getting stale. She decides on a quiet holiday in France in the hope they can reconnect . . . but he runs off with the guesthouse owner’s wife instead! Left to look after Rupert – the temporarily-incapacitated guesthouse owner – and his business, Emmy faces complications in the form of a handsome young gardener and an attractive accountant, and also has to deal with various friends and acquaintances of Rupert’s. But Emmy handles it all with humour and rediscovered inner strength, and finally begins to consider what she wants from her future.
If you were planning to take yourself away to a desert island for a relaxing few weeks, what four things couldn’t you do without and why?
My husband, son and daughter . . . do they count as things? And my Kindle!
As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.
She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.
When she’s not writing, Helen enjoys reading, decent coffee, scrapbooking and watching old seventies and eighties TV shows.
Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Find Helen at:
Website & Blog: http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
The little French Guesthouse
The perfect feel good summer read
(La Cour des Roses Book 1)
Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?
When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.
Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.
Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.
Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?
Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Nick Alexander will want to join Emmy for a glass of wine as the sun sets on the terrace at La Cour des Roses.
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Lcc8U4
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1T1m7BO
I wish I could tell you it happened like it does in the movies. You know the kind of thing. The heroine standing proud, oozing restrained fury. The audience’s satisfaction as she delivers a reverberating slap across her lover’s face. Her dramatic but dignified exit from the screen.
Believe me, there was nothing dignified about it. All I did was stand there shaking, rage and adrenalin coursing through my body like rabid greyhounds, my mouth flapping open and shut as I tried to find the words. Any words. Even a simple sound of outrage would have sufficed, but all I managed was a pathetic squeak.
‘Emmy, it’s not what it looks like,’ Nathan spluttered, but of course it couldn’t be anything other than what it looked like. My view as I stumbled through the door had been graphically explicit. Even he must have known how lame he sounded. Grappling for dignity and his belt, he tried again. ‘We were… I mean, I didn’t expect you to…’
I launched into a wronged-woman tirade as though someone had handed me a bad soap script.
‘No, I bet you didn’t expect me to…’ An alarm bell clanged dimly at the back of my brain, but I ignored it. ‘How could you? You cheating bastard! I can’t believe you…’ The clanging grew louder and more insistent, moving to the front of my consciousness. ‘Shit!’ With a guilty jolt, I remembered why I’d come all the way up here in the first place. ‘Gloria, you need to call an ambulance. I think Rupert’s having a heart attack.’
‘What?’ Adjusting her dress, Gloria greeted this sudden change of subject with bewilderment.
‘Rupert. Your husband, remember? Heart attack. Ambulance.’ I gave her bangled arm a nudge to see if her brain was still functioning or whether sex with my boyfriend was more spectacular than I gave him credit for.
‘Ohmygod. Ohmygod.’ The message finally got through to her lust-addled brain cells. ‘Where is he?’
‘Kitchen.’ I headed for the stairs, my mind thankfully back on the emergency at hand and pushing visions of Nathan and Gloria romping on the roof terrace to the rear of my consciousness. For now, remarkably, there were more important things to worry about.
‘What do you mean, a heart attack?’ Gloria shouted after me. ‘Why the hell didn’t you call an ambulance?’
‘I tried, but then I realised I didn’t know the number, and besides, my French isn’t good enough,’ I called over my shoulder. ‘I thought it would be quicker to get you to do it. I had no idea you’d be so busy.’
‘Ohmygod, Emmy. He could be dead by now!’
She was right – he could be dead by now – but when we reached the kitchen, to my immense relief, Rupert was still conscious and sitting propped against the wall the way I’d left him. I’d done my best, but I hadn’t expected to lose precious moments with the melodrama upstairs. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if he had stopped breathing.