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.
Find Helena online--
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My inspiration: Kaye Webb and Puffin Books for Children
by Helena Fairfax
I’ve chosen as my inspiration a lady called Kaye Webb, who was editor of Puffin Books – a British imprint for children’s books – during my childhood in the sixties and seventies.
|Helena's Puffin Books Collection
When Kaye Webb took over at Puffin Books, the imprint had only 151 titles. By the end of Kaye Webb’s tenure she had brought out over a thousand more titles, including picture books and a range aimed at teenagers. She also founded the Puffin Book Club for children – of which I was a proud member, with my own badge :) – and the club is still going today.
I can’t tell you how much Puffin Books meant to me as a child growing up. I still have my favourite, battered copies in a bookcase in my study. You only have to look at the covers to know that these books were filled with magical worlds that transported me far from the cares of home and school. Kaye Webb was one of the first ever editors to realise the importance of writing for children, and she made the authors she published, and their stories, into household names.
There are so many Puffin Books that still stick in my mind today, it’s hard to pick out just a few. The classic Stig of the Dump, by Clive King; Watership Down, by Richard Adams; all the books by Leon Garfield and Joan Aiken, which I loved. Noel Streatfield, Laura Ingalls Wilder - the list goes on and on.
Puffin books are filled with adventure. They are positive stories in which compassionate people triumph, and good always overcomes evil. The stories resonate with children, because they present a world so unlike the world many of us grow up in – that is, a world in which all ends as it should. Kaye Webb was a firm believer that if more children read books, the world would be a better place. Her Puffin books were certainly the mainstay of my childhood, and reading them inspired me to become a writer.
Thanks so much for having me today, JQ. It’s been so much fun going through my old Puffin books!
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|Contemporary sweet romance
Jean-Luc Olivier is a devastatingly handsome racing-driver with the world before him. Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London. The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future. She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London. One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.
Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc. He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie. He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.
Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow. But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness. Jean-Luc has secrets of his own. Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.
The Silk Romance is available from all major e-book retailers, and also from the MuseItUp Publishing bookstore
Please leave a comment for a chance to win the e-book. Were you inspired by books you read as a child? What is your favorite book from your childhood?