Saturday, August 30, 2014

Author Interview: Helena Fairfax: The Silk Romance: The Antique Love: A Holiday Anthology

author photo
Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country. She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants. When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories. Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.
Thank you for accepting my invite on my blog, Helena.  I’m so thrilled to have you here!

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

As a child I loved our family holidays by the seaside in Wales.  We would spend all day on the beach – no matter what the weather! – swimming, building sandcastles and eating our sandwiches (which usually had lots of sand in!)
When I had children of my own, I took them to the same beach every year for many years, and still loved it just as much.
a photo of me in East Africa as a child with my dad - Mombasa beach

What career did you plan during your education days?

I loved studying languages, and would have liked to translate novels as a job.  Instead, I ended up writing my own :)

What languages you can speak and write?

French and German.  I also taught myself some Spanish recently – enough to get by when I went to South America.  I love languages, and would love to be able to speak more!

What hurts you most in this world?

My son died three years ago.  I don’t think there is a pain in the world that could equal this pain.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge has been living with the death of my son.  I haven’t overcome it.
a photo of the Yorkshire moors, where I now live

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I would love to live a day as Emily Brontë.  I live very near the family’s Parsonage in Haworth, which I’ve visited often. I would love to know how a Victorian young woman from this bleak place became so passionately creative.

What is your favorite genre and why?

I write romance novels, and read a lot in this genre.  I love the emotional journey, and the certainty that all will end with an uplifting happy ending.  I also enjoy reading crime novels – but again, only if I know that the bad guys will be caught, and all will end well!

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I loved to write, even as a child, but I only recently had my first two novels published.  I write for lots of different reasons.  It’s great therapy and keeps my mind occupied – sort of like doing a puzzle.  I love the feeling that I can give my characters the happy ending they deserve.  Most of all, I love to give pleasure to others through my stories.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I’ve just finished writing a novel about a young widow whose husband dies abroad, leaving her with a two year old son.  It’s a romance between the young woman and a family friend, but it also deals with the themes of loss and how we continue to believe in the power of love.

What are your future plans?

I’m plotting out a novel about a woman who comes back to her home town after ten years and meets up with a man who used to be the school rebel, but now owns his own successful business.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
What is the nature of the conflict that keeps the couple apart? What situation will force the couple to have to be together for the course of the novel?  What are their individual goals?  What will force them to give up the thing they want most in the world?

Your dream destination on Earth?

I’ve travelled a lot in my life, and now I know the only place worth being is with the people you love.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

I was born in Uganda, and when I first came to England I missed the heat and the freedom to explore.  Everywhere here seemed very gloomy, and the people unwelcoming.  Now I’ve lived in England nearly all my life, and I appreciate all the opportunities this country has to offer a lot more than I did when I was a child!

Some quickies: Sun or Moon            Moon
Laughter or Smile                          Smile
 Morning or Evening                       Evening
 Coffee or Tea                               Definitely tea!
Mountain or Sea                             Sea
Silence or Conversation                  Silence
Water or Fire                               Water
Air or Earth                                  Air

The last line of your autobiography would be…  

I hope someone will tell me what that was all about.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

My last published work was a novel called The Antique Love.  Here is the blurb:
One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas. Lively, spirited and imaginative, Penny takes this handsome stranger for a romantic cowboy straight from the pages of a book. Kurt certainly looks every inch the hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in the City, in the logical world of finance—and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers. Events in his childhood have shown him just how destructive love can be. Now he’s looking for a wife, right enough, but what he wants is a marriage based on logic and rational decisions. Kurt treats Penny like he would his kid sister, but when he hires her to help refurbish his beautiful Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing life into. The logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…

The Antique Love is available in e-format from all major e-tailers, including: 
Apple iBooks

You can find Helena on her blog:
on Facebook,  or 
on Twitter @helenafairfax

 And finally a special message from Helena for all her fans and readers!

Please get in touch – I love to hear from people!

Author Interview: Dinah Jefferies: The Separation: The Tea Planters Wife

Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaya (now Malaysia) and moved to England at the age of nine. She still loves South East Asia and the Far East and jumps at the chance to travel there whenever she can. She once lived in a commune with a rock band, and has worked as an exhibiting artist. After also living in Italy and Spain, she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and very naughty Norfolk Terrier where she writes full time. The Separation is her first novel and will be followed by The Tea Planter’s Wife in 2015.
Dinah on atrip back to England aged three

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

My most vivid memories are of the years I spent in Malaysia, then called Malaya. Best of all was spying on the monkeys who nipped in through our kitchen window to steal the meat and bananas. I adored the Chinese circus and our holidays on a deserted tropical island with white sand, turquoise sea and gluey jellyfish.
Dinah mother and sister 1952

About your education

I went to Grammar School and have a degree in English Literature.

What career did you plan during your education days?

I wanted to be a fashion designer. It didn’t happen!

What languages you can speak and write?

When I was a child in Malaysia I spoke a hotchpotch of different languages. Now it’s only English and a little Spanish.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I write about loss. I write about how hard it is to move on when the past won't let you go. I write about families torn apart. I write about slices of 20th Century history with all its intrigue and social upheaval. I sometimes have fun with a little dash of romantic love. But above all I write about the unbreakable bonds of love. That's the heart of my writing and it comes from the heart. My son died 29 years ago and his loss is my greatest inspiration.

What hurts you most in this world?

Seeing children die from starvation, disease and lack of clean water. All of which could be fixed.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

That would be the death of my son. I overcame it by putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, week after week, year after year. Until the point came when I began to feel alive again. My writing has been one of the most healing things I have ever done.
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
I began writing nearly six years ago and I’m now writing my fourth novel. The first one was unpublished although the second was, but the first was a fantastic learning experience. On one level the purpose is to explore themes, places and periods of history that fascinate me. On another level it’s simply the joy of creating something from scratch. I write because I love it.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

The Separation was published this year 2014 in English by Penguin, and also in six foreign languages. It is available all over the world. Set in Malaya 1955. Lydia Cartwright returns from visiting a sick friend to an empty house. Where is her husband Alec? Her young daughters, Emma and Fleur? Fearful and desperate, she contacts the British District Officer and learns that Alec has been posted up country. But why didn't he wait? Why no message? Lydia's search takes her on a hazardous journey through war-torn jungle. One that only the power of a mother's love can help her to survive. Forced to turn to Jack Harding, a man she'd vowed to leave in her past, she sacrifices everything to be reunited with her family. And while carrying her own secrets, Lydia will soon face a devastating betrayal which may be more than she can bear..

What are your forthcoming writings?

The Tea Planter’s Wife, set in Ceylon 1925 will be published by Penguin and internationally in 2015.

What are your future plans?

I’m currently writing my third book set in Vietnam.

What four top most things do you take care of while writing a book?

Tension. Emotion. Compelling characters. A strong narrative.
The Separation card - back

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

I’d say quite a lot, though it is always transformed into something new. It’s as if an alchemy takes place where you bring together reality and imagination to create fiction.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Absolutely. You have to be able to imagine, picture and feel the scene as you write it. I think a strong visual imagination helps a lot.

Your dream destination on Earth?

Well at the moment that’s India. I’ve never been and am longing to go.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

Born in Malaysia. Recently I’ve been to Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Loved them both though we stayed on a tea Plantation in Sri Lanka, where my second book is set, and it was out of this world. In Vietnam it was harder to uncover the past.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?

I am a roaring Lion.

What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?

I read a novel about dementia. I won’t name it because I didn’t think it was a particularly strong work of fiction, though it taught me a lot about early onset dementia. I am now taking a break from reading as I’m in the early stages of writing book three and I don’t want to be distracted. All being well it will come out in 2016.
Your favorite movie and why?

I don’t like Hollywood blockbusters all that much. I do love independent and foreign films ‘Incendes’ was shocking and moving and took my breath away. I also loved ‘One Half of a Yellow Sun’ because, like my own novels, it takes a slice of history and tells it through the relationships of the central characters.  
What comes to your mind when you think of India?

What comes to mind is that I can’t wait to go there. My husband loves cooking Indian food from scratch. His mother was born in India and taught him how to grind the spices himself. Our house often smells amazing. First and foremost I think of the smells. Second the amazing colour of the saris. Third the beauty of the country and its people. Fourth the railway and the history. And sixth something mystical that I can’t name yet. I need to go there and hope to set book four in India. Any suggestions of locations?

Some quickies:

Sun or Moon, Sun
Laughter or Smile, Laughter
Morning or Evening, Morning,
Mountain or Sea, Mountain
Silence or Conversation, Both
Water or Fire, Fire
Air or Earth, Air

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote:

 “I imagined a fine line that wound half way round the world. It was the invisible thread that stretched from west to east and back again; one end was attached to my mother’s heart and the other to mine. And, I knew, whatever might happen, that thread would never be broken.”

The last line of your autobiography would be… 

‘I may not have always got it right but I never lacked courage.’
Plan for The Separation version 2_edited-1

Twitter handle: @DinahJefferies

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Author Interview: Cas Peace: For The Love Of Daisy: The Challenge

Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.

Cas's other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing.

Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.

Welcome Caroline!

Your real name and pen name? 

My full name is Caroline Peace, and I write under the pen name of Cas Peace

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood. 

I was lucky enough to have a lovely childhood in the county of Hampshire, southern UK. I think I’m pretty unique in that my earliest memory is of being in my pram. I don’t know anyone else who can remember back that far. Another early childhood memory is of being allowed to choose a book from the local library, and then curling up with it on a rainy winter’s day in front of the fire with some chocolate. That is still my ideal way to relax when I feel stressed.

About your education. 

I completed primary and secondary school, but did not attend university. I achieved reasonable grades, but because I decided to become a horse-riding instructor, I attended a school of equitation rather than university or college. I passed my instructor’s exam after a year of training, and stayed with the establishment as a teacher for two years after that. I then left to take up a job with better pay prospects!

What career did you plan during your education days?

My initial plan was to become a veterinarian, but I wasn’t too good with figures, so I decided to become a horse-riding instructor instead. If I’d had the Internet when I was trying to decide on a career, I might well have gone into archaeology, because the subject fascinates me. But when I was growing up, in the ʼ70s, it wasn’t as easy finding out about different careers as it is now.
What languages you can speak and write? 

My mother tongue is English, and I learned a bit of Spanish at school. However, the only thing I can say in Spanish now is “I don’t speak Spanish”! But after I met and married my husband, we went to live in Italy for three years. I loved it, and learned to speak Italian.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life? 

I find the natural world a huge source of inspiration and spiritual healing. I have always felt an affinity with and for wildlife, and believe humankind could learn a lot from how the creatures of our world live in harmony with their surroundings and each other. Man has become a greedy and uncaring presence on Earth, and we desperately need to rethink the way we use and care for the natural resources that are essential to all life on this planet.

What hurts you most in this world? 

The constant wars against innocent peoples by extremists and so-called “governments”. I find it very hard to watch news items concerning refugees from fighting - people and children forced out of their homes by factions whose only interest lies in killing.

What is your favorite genre and why? 

My favorite genre is the one I write: Fantasy. Almost as soon as I could choose the books I read I discovered fantasy, and I’ve loved it ever since. I think it’s the sense of adventure, and the newness of the worlds different authors create that appeals so strongly to me. There is such a wealth of talent among fantasy writers, and each one is completely different to the others. It’s an exciting and fulfilling genre.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing? 

Apart from a few stories and poems that I wrote while still at school, my actual writing career started in 1997. I had returned from Italy and didn’t have a job. To keep from becoming bored, I began writing. At first, it was simply a way of keeping my mind occupied - I never intended to become a ‘writer’, or to write a novel. But as soon as I started writing out a little scene I’d had in my mind from watching a kid’s TV program in the ʼ70s, it was as if some floodgates had opened. Ideas kept flowing out of me and I couldn’t write quickly enough to keep up. This was before  had a laptop, so it was all longhand. That first idea eventually became an entire fantasy trilogy, but I still couldn’t stop writing. Another trilogy followed, using the same characters, and then another. These nine books became my Artesans of Albia triple-trilogy series. No one was more surprised than me!
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work? 

In 2010 I found a publisher for the first novel in my Artesans series. It was a small American publisher, and they went on to publish my second and third books. But then they were forced to close, so now I am publishing the rest of the series myself. Four books are currently available as both print and e-books on Amazon: King’s Envoy, King’s Champion, and King’s Artesan (the first Artesans trilogy), and The Challenge, the first book in the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the first trilogy:

On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertantly carrying the Staff.

Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran's actions, Major Sullyan of the High King's forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.

Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defense of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle. Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan's greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him.
If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan's life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.

The race for the Staff has begun.

What are your forthcoming writings? 

My fifth Artesans book, The Circle, will be published in December 2014. Then there will be two books published in 2015: Full Circle in April 2015, which completes my second trilogy, Circle of Conspiracy, and The Scarecrow in December 2015, which is the first book in the third trilogy, Master of Malice. Then the final two books will be published in 2016: The Vagrant in April 2016, and The Gateway in December 2016.

What are your future plans? 

As well as being an author, I’m also a freelance editor. I have several regular clients, one of whom is an acclaimed American sci-fi and fantasy author who also runs her own publishing imprint. So I shall be busy with my editing business, and I’m also planning a prequel to my Artesans series that will focus on the Young Adult or New Adult market. The other thing I do is folk singing. I have written and recorded folk songs for each of my fantasy books, which are presently available as free downloads from Reverbnation, or my website. See the links below. Once my fantasy series is complete, I plan to release all the songs as a CD to accompany the novels.

What four topmost things do you take care of while writing a book? 

The first is to create fully rounded, interesting, and complex characters. Your plot can be as complicated and awesome as you like, but if your characters don’t cut it, the plot will be wasted. Second on my list is the plot, which should, of course, be tight. It’s not essential to have a really complex plot, but it must make sense. No one wants to read a book with a weak or obvious plot. Third, for a writer of fantasy, has to be world-building. Fantasy readers want to be transported somewhere new, somewhere exciting, maybe even somewhere dangerous. And the fourth has to be writing that flows and feels natural to the reader - especially the dialogue.

How much real life goes into a fiction novel? 

I think it depends on the genre. It is perfectly possible to write a fiction novel that doesn’t contain an ounce of the author’s own experiences. Good research can enable anyone to learn enough to write about their chosen subject. However, I think it’s almost impossible as an author not to transpose some of your own life experiences and reactions to certain circumstances onto your characters. I also think it helps your writing come to life if you draw on your personal experiences - especially when conveying a character’s emotional responses.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author? 

I think so - and especially so when writing Fantasy! An author who has a good mental image of what they are trying to describe will be better at conveying that image to a reader than one who doesn’t, so imagination comes into the equation twice. Once when world-building, and again when transporting the reader into that world.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe? 

I was born in southern England and I now live only an hour from my birth town. I still love the countryside around where I live. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have visited Australia, America, Canada, France, Spain, Holland, Greece, and Italy. I actually lived in Italy for three years, in a house just outside Rome, and I really love the place. My husband and I go back whenever we can. This year I am hoping to visit Crete, and in 2015 we are going back to the States for a whale watching trip that will also take us over the border into Mexico. Can’t wait! It’s the flora and fauna of a place that makes it special for me.

Your favorite time of the day? 

My favorite time has to be the morning. I love brilliant sunrises, and I love going for my morning walk with my dogs.

Your zodiac/ sunsign? 

I am an Aries, which should mean I’m a good leader and very confident - but actually I’m neither of those things!

Your favorite color and why? 

I’ve always loved yellow. The color of sunshine - it’s hard to be sad when you’re surrounded by yellow.

Your favorite celebrity and why? 

My favorite celebrity is Sean Bean. I loved him in the Sharpe series of TV films from Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe novels, and of course, he was also in Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. I like him so much, I wrote him into my own fantasy series. It’s no secret that the character of the Albian High King, Elias Rovannon, is modeled on Sean Bean!

Your favorite food? 

My favorite food is scrambled eggs. I was brought up on that for breakfast, and it’s still my comfort food. If I didn’t have my lovely husband, who cooks most of our meals, I think I’d live on scrambled eggs, with omelets for variety.

What comes to your mind when you think of India? 

My husband has been to and worked in India, but I’ve never been. The words that come to my mind are: crowded; bustling; noisy; colorful; smiling; wonderful fabrics; monsoon; snakes; sacred cows; call centers; elephants; tigers; water; children working on rubbish heaps; poverty; riches. A country full of contrasts!

Some quickies: 

Sun or Moon? Sun. 
Laughter or Smile, Smile
Morning or Evening, Morning
Coffee or Tea, Coffee
Mountain or Sea, Mountain
Long Drive or Short Drive, Short drive
Silence or Conversation, Silence
Water or Fire, Fire
Air or Earth, Earth
Mars or Jupiter, Mars
Tulip or Rose, Tulip. 
Red or Blue, Blue
Left or Right, Left
Glance or Stare, Glance.

What three words come to your mind for each –

Technology: Computers, annoyance, convenience. 
Life: Fun, companionship, responsibility.  
God: support, peace, singing
Humanity: Greed, crowded, uncaring. 
Terrorism; Greed, power, hatred.  
Racism: cowardice, blindness, fear
Childhood Abuse: Protection, education, support
Love: kindness, compassion, unconditional
Parenting: Hard work, fun, expensive
Old age: Loneliness, ill-health, care-homes.

Twitter handle: @CasPeace1
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Amazon Author Profile:
Artesans of Albia Book 1 King’s Envoy:
Artesans of Albia Book 2 King’s Champion:
Artesans of Albia Book 3 King’s Artesan:
Circle of Conspiracy Book 1 The Challenge:
For the Love of Daisy:

Folk Music Links:

First Trilogy Trailer Link:

Live Perfomance of The Wheel Will Turn link: