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?
Helena, so happy you are here today. I remember reading Black Beauty over and over and over again.It was a picture book with fantastic colorful drawings. I asked my parents for a horse, but, since we lived in town and they didn't know anythinb about horses, I never got one. sigh
Oh, I loved Black Beauty, too, JQ! And I especially loved the film, with the young and gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor. That's another book I must re-read from childhood. Thanks for reminding me! And thanks for having me today. It's really brought back how great some of these children's authors are.
Great post, Helena. I remember many wonderful books from my childhood also. I have fond memories of going to the library and picking out the books I would read that week.
Me too, Susan! And my own children used to love going to the library, too, and discovered many a good read there. Thanks for your comment!
Hi Susan, thanks for stopping in. Everytime I walk into our beautiful library and walk out with a bag full of books for me or grandkids, I am so thankful public libraries are available to us. I still remember the "book" smell of our old Carnegie library when I was growing up.
Thank you for this great post! I loved going to the library and getting books, they allowed me to escape to the world of my imagination. My favorite book from my early childhood was probably Ira Sleeps Over.
I've never read Ira Sleeps Over, Matthew. I must check that one out! The title reminds me of another one of my favourites: Bread and Jam for Frances, by the great Russell Hoban. So many fab children's authors to choose from! Thanks for coming by, and for your comment!
LOL So I got confused who was hosting and who was guesting when I read an earlier FB post about you two. I'll straighten it out. We did the library, too. There's nothing quite like the smell of an old library. I also remember saving my allowance so I could buy a Dana Girls Mystery. Similar to Nancy Drew. Got into lots of trouble by reading and hot doing my chores! :)
Wonderful post! It certainly looks like your Puffin Books were well-loved. No need to enter me into the giveaway as I already read (and loved!) The Silk Romance.
Thanks Marsha and Heather! Marsha, my daughter totally loved Nancy Drew books, and I think we must have owned them all at some stage :) Thank you both for your lovely comments!
Hey Matthew, I looked up Ira Sleeps Over and I see the author, Bernard Waber, has written other picture books I know. Sounds like Ira would be good to read to my 5 year old granddaughter. Thanks for giving us your favorite book.
Hi Marsha, I know I know. Mothers always want us to be responsible and do the chores on their schedule. To get in extra reading time, I had to resort to reading at night with a flashlight. Now we have Kindles with a backlight. How cool is that!
Heather B, I loved the Silk Romance too. AND the Antique Love. So romantic.
Helena, I love how you shared with us the influences of your early reading.
Funny that you mentioned Bread and Jam for Frances, I recall it as one of the classics on my childhood bookshelf.
I do wish you lots of luck with winning the award!
Thanks so much, Loren! My children loved Bread and Jam for Frances. "What I am, is tired of jam." Great illustrations, too. Glad there's someone else who remembers it from childhood :) Thanks very much for your comment, and for your best wishes!
Hi LR S-Thank you for stopping by. I'm going to have to look up Bread and Jam for Fraces-my granddaughter's middle name is Frances!
It's so nice to meet you, Helena. Thanks for sharing your love of your childhood books. I'm collecting for my grandchildren, so it's always wonderful to add to the collection. Best of success with your books. The cover is beautiful.
Hi Joylene, So many books for our grandchildren--old and new. So much fun too. Thank you for stopping in Joylene.
It's good to meet you, too! There are so many brilliant books for children these days, and one of the reasons I love Kaye Webb so much is that she opened the door for a lot of the present day children's authors. I can highly recommend any of the Puffin book imprint for your grandchildren. So happy you're collecting for the next generation. Thanks for your comment!
Congratulations to LRS for winning the drawing for Helena's romance novel. Enjoy.
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