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.
Helen lives in Yorkshire with her husband, two almost-independent kids and a Jekyll and Hyde cat. She loves reading, decent coffee, scrapbooking and old eighties TV cop shows.
Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Helen a warm welcome to the blog. Pull up a beanbag. Yes, Mr Grumpy wanted to help create a seventies atmosphere so we’re on beanbags today, sitting next to a lava lamp. So, before we chat about your new release, The Little French Guesthouse, I have some nice easy questions for you. The readers of this blog are probably of a certain age and we all love a bit of nostalgia so let me ask you:
Clangers or the Wombles?
I loved them both, Bet you chose the Clangers because of the funny whistling noise they made. Yes, Mr Grumpy, thats’ the one now put away the recorder and leave us alone. “The Persuaders” with Roger Moore and Tony Curtis or “The Professionals” with Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins (drool!)
The Persuaders (and for those who know what year this was aired, I should point out that I was extremely young at the time – or perhaps it was subsequent repeats that I watched!)
It’ll be the repeats, definitely the repeats. Mousetrap or Hungry Hippos?
“Bunty” or “Beano”?
Excellent. I loved the Beano and the Dandy but I had to wait until my dad had read them before I could get my hands on them. Barry White or Barry Manilow?
Barry Manilow (his was the first LP I ever bought)
I have one of his CDs in the car and caught Grumpy listening to it the other day singing along to Copacabana. Makes a change from ABBA. Can you tell us a short joke?
What’s the difference between an old bus stop and a female crab?
One’s a rusty bus station and the other’s a busty crustacean 🙂
Nice one! What makes you laugh most?
Cats and dogs doing bonkers things on videos
Sherbet flying saucers
Mmmm. That’s it. I shall be off to the sweetshop in town after this interview and buying a bag of them. I wonder if they still taste the same. If you compiled a list of your favourite comedy shows what would be at the top of your list?
Father Ted, closely followed by The Big Bang Theory
What was the first film you ever went to see at the cinema? (My Granddad took me to see a John Wayne western when I was 5. The usher declared I wasn’t old enough to see it as you had to be over 11. Grandfather told him I was plenty old enough to see a good western and that was that – I went in)
I don’t remember it, but my brother tells me it was Ring of Bright Water – I was only three, and I got so bored that I started running up and down the aisle. Apparently, this was a good thing, since it meant I missed one or more of the otters coming to a sticky end. The first film I actually remember seeing was Diamonds Are Forever, but all I can recall is a fight in a lift!
I cried at that film – not Diamonds Are Forever. Actually I don’t remember any fight scenes. I must be getting old or we watched it after Christmas lunch and I was asleep by then.
I cried at Ring of Bright Water. I always sob at animal films. Thank you, Helen. Now let’s chat about you and your books. What genre do you write?
My first two books were ‘sweet’ romance, but I’m heading into the chick lit/women’s fiction genre with my first book for Bookouture. Plenty of humour, cheekiness and shenanigans!
Who is your favourite character in your books?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. The Little French Guesthouse is written in first person, so of course I’m very close to Emmy. But I was taken by surprise as I wrote the book, because I became inordinately fond of Rupert, the guesthouse owner – something I hadn’t particularly planned on. Other people who’ve read it are saying the same, which is lovely.
Where do you think up your ideas for stories?
I wouldn’t say that a setting necessarily inspires a whole story, but I do have to have a sense in my head of where it takes place – if I can’t visualize it, I find it hard to get going with the actual writing. Otherwise, I think maybe the characters that come first, and then I build a story around them.
What do you do to help you concentrate on writing?
Oh, that is a bad question. I’m a dreadful procrastinator, terrible at concentrating, and I’m adept at finding all sorts of distraction activities – I mean, there are all those nice timeline spreadsheets to keep up to; pretty-coloured charts . . . Does the cat need feeding? (The answer to that, by the way, is always.) Was that the doorbell? Perhaps I ought to phone my brother . . .
Could you please put a few brief words about you – something that doesn’t show up on your website. Surprise us!
I believe Jack Johnson’s music should be available on prescription – and obligatory for those prone to road/trolley rage. If you haven’t listened to any, try ‘Constellations’ on his ‘In Between Dreams’ album. It’s like Valium for your ears and soul.
Helen, thank you so much for being a guest on the blog. I look forward to you coming by again. I know many of the people who visit here are fans of France so you will love Helen’s new book:
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?
PURCHASE THE LITTLE FRENCH GUESTHOUSE BY CLICKING HERE
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