Saturday, 25 March 2017

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Helena Fairfax

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

I live in Saltaire, near Bradford in West Yorkshire. It’s a great spot for a writer, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, and near the home of the Brontës. I have a rescue dog who was abandoned as a puppy. She’s quite fearful of strangers and was in a rescue centre for six months. During that time she became highly reactive around other dogs. We walk on the moors every day, and she absolutely loves the peace and solitude. I love it, too. It’s wonderful to watch the changing seasons, and to see the pheasants and lambs grow over the year. It’s also the perfect place for just thinking, and I’ve dreamed up many stories while wading through the mud in my wellies.

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

My first novel is called The Silk Romance, and it was published in 2013. I’d been writing off and on for a while before I finally finished this book. What happened was I’d have an idea and write a few chapters, and then I’d lay the book aside unfinished. One morning I was packed on a commuter train heading into work. It was a dreary, rainy day, and I began to think how wonderful it would be to be in the south of France. An idea for a story began to formulate in my mind as I stood wedged between soaking wet commuters. I was itching to write it down, but this time I realised I needed some help to complete the novel, and so I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. This was the best thing I’d done as a writer. Under the scheme I had a deadline to work towards and I was forced to put pen to paper. The feedback I received from the RNA on the finished manuscript was excellent and so helpful. I rewrote the story following their suggestions, and The Silk Romance was published. It was a great feeling!

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

 I have four published books: The Silk Romance and The Antique Love are short contemporary romances (M&B length). A Way from Heart to Heart is a longer women’s fiction novel, and is published by Accent Press. My latest book is called A Year of Light and Shadows and is a romantic suspense.

I also have a finished manuscript which is at present with an agent. Fingers crossed!

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I’m always really proud to finish a book. I still feel a tremendous sense of achievement when I write “The End”. Perhaps I’d have to say The Silk Romance is the book I’m most proud of, as this is the first book I ever wrote. I still remember how ecstatic I was to see it on Amazon!

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

My last book – A Year of Light and Shadows – was my personal favourite to write. I’d never written a romantic suspense before and I found it great fun to do. I also absolutely love the hero, Léon. Halfway through writing the book I had a revelation about his character that provides one of the twists to the story. It gave me a feeling of great satisfaction when all the plot strands came together.

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

As I mentioned above, Léon, the hero of A Year of Light and Shadows, is one of my favourite characters. He has a cool background – his mother is Italian, and his father is from the fictional country of Montverrier. He is bodyguard to the heroine, Lizzie, and has all the traits of a good bodyguard – calm under pressure, alert and astute about people. He also has hidden depths. Having been brought up in Rome, he is fascinated by Roman military history, and is very knowledgeable on the subject. He’s a good mimic and can tell a great story. And apart from that, he’s pretty hot…!

There are a couple of secondary characters who were fun to write, too. Marco in The Silk Romance is studying fashion at the same college in Lyon as the heroine. They become great friends. I like Marco because he’s witty and fun to be with, and he is a sympathetic listener (despite his self-centred streak!) He can also rustle up a stylish dress for you out of a silk remnant. Who wouldn’t love a friend like that?

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

I’m sure my writing has improved since my first book was published. The Silk Romance has quite a melodramatic feel to it, and perhaps I might tone this down a bit if I were writing it now. On the other hand, it did receive great reviews, and an excellent report from my reader at the RNA, so maybe readers feel the dramatic writing style fits the romance of the story. It’s also the first romance novel my husband ever read, and he got so engrossed in it he missed his stop on the train!

7) Which of your covers is your favourite and why?

A Year of Light and Shadows is three stories in one. The stories follow the growing romance between the two main characters, Lizzie and Léon, in settings that range from the heat of the Mediterranean to a chilly Edinburgh. I’d been struggling to think of a title to tie in the stories, and so I held a competition on my blog and on social media. A reader came up with this perfect title, and I love it. When I told my cover designer I’d found a title, Charlotte Volnek, she immediately came up with this idea for a cover. I love the cover, too! I love the silhouettes of the hero and heroine, the way a heart shape is lit between them, and the way Charlotte has reflected the whole theme of light and shadows in the design. The font is great, too.

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

I have an idea for a YA novel which keeps playing in the back of my mind, and in fact I’ve started writing it. It’s one of my resolutions this year to finish it and submit it to a publisher.

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

I mentioned above that I have a completed women’s fiction/romance manuscript that’s with an agent at present. This is the first in a planned series set in the Lake District, and I’m presently working on the next.

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

Georgette Heyer is my favourite romance author. Her dialogue is always so sparkling and witty, her characters are entertaining, and even though she’s written dozens and dozens of novels, her heroes and heroines are different in each book. Her novels are also really well researched. I love her back catalogue so much I’ve started to collect all her books.

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

Only that if I occasionally re-read parts of my back catalogue, I can’t remember where on earth I got the ideas from! I’m always amazed at the capacity of the human imagination, and our ability to tell each other stories. I hope I can continue to dream up stories and write books for many more years.

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The Silk Romance Amazon:  / Universal link for other retailers:

The Antique Love Amazon:  / Universal link for other retailers:

A Year of Light and Shadows Amazon:  / Universal link for other retailers:

Author Biography
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she's secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme Award. 

Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.


Thanks so much for having me here today, Rachel. I’ve really enjoyed revisiting my back catalogue!

You are very welcome Helena, it was lovely to have you and to learn all about your back catalogue. 


  1. Lovely interview, wishing you much success Helena. :)

  2. Thank you, Jane, and thanks so much for taking the time to drop in x


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