|Romance Readers Want to Know
Thursdays on the J,Q. Rose Blog
Besides celebrating with the Irish, we are also throwing a party for Helena's new romance novella, just released last weekend--The Scottish Diamond, a romantic suspense novella.
Be sure to read on to discover how you can receive a free copy of the Palace of Deception, the romantic suspense novella which first introduces us to Lizzie and Leon.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Romance Readers Want to Know by Helena Fairfax
Thanks so much for inviting me to take part in this series, JQ. I’ve loved getting to know new authors through your posts - and I love answering readers’ questions!
A question I’ve been asked a few times by readers is “How do you write a whole book?”
I know exactly what they mean. Even though I’ve written four full-length books now – and several short stories and novellas – I still find it both exciting and daunting to be faced with that blank page and the start of a new novel. It’s a very long way from having an idea for a story, to actually putting that idea down on paper and creating a full-length novel out of it.
The way I approach writing a new romance novel is to have a clear idea of the romantic conflict between the hero and heroine before I start. What is it that is keeping my characters apart? Why are their goals in conflict? Why – if they are two attractive, single people – can’t they get together on page one?
After that, I begin writing the novel, sometimes with no clear idea of how I’m going to progress – how will I avoid that “saggy middle”? What happens in chapter twelve? – but as long as I remain true to the characters, and true to their conflict, I keep writing and keep dreaming up situations that test this conflict to the max. I’m often hit with inspiration on the way, which leads me to question two:
“Where do you find your ideas?”
I love this question, and it’s a source of endless fascination to me where writers (and all artists) get their creative ideas from. I wish I had the answer! What I’ve found works well is having an enquiring mind. I’m quite a curious person (my husband might say “nosy” :) ) and I often find myself wondering “What would happen if…”
I’ve had most of my ideas from asking myself questions. I love antiques, and while watching a reality TV programme about antique shops, I started asking myself, “What would it be like to own an antique shop and be surrounded by these wonderful connections with other lives in history?” My novel The Antique Love grew directly out of this question. I dreamed up a heroine who is a romantic dreamer and who is fascinated by old objects.
I ask myself these questions all the time. Have you ever walked past a lighted window and cast a surreptitious look inside and wondered, “Who lives there?” If you are as nosy as me, you could be a writer :)
“Did you always want to be a writer?” I often get asked this question, too. The answer is yes – but as a child I was more in love with the idea of being a published author than actually sitting down to the painful process of writing! There is a famous quote that goes “It’s a wonderful thing to be a writer. It’s a terrible thing to write.” (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who said it.) I think that sums it up. I do love being a writer – I love the days when my book is released. It’s a very exciting feeling. But the reality of writing is a long, hard slog to get your book to a publishable state, involving a lot of hard work and persistence.
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Here is the blurb to my latest release, The Scottish Diamond:
|The Scottish Diamond by Helena Fairfax
What do you do when nothing is what it seems…even the man you love?
"Fair is foul, and foul is fair..." When Lizzie Smith starts rehearsing Macbeth with her theatre group in Edinburgh, she's convinced the witches' spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie's bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he's finally offered the job of guarding "The Scottish Diamond," a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.
But the diamond's previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth's witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she's being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised...
I continued to frown up at him, troubled. He took my face in his hands and kissed me.
‘I know what it is,’ he said, his eyes twinkling. ‘It’s all your talk of witches and ghosts. Your Scottish superstitions are rubbing off on me and I’m seeing things in this gloomy weather that aren’t there at all.’
He swung me into his arms and kissed me again.
After that, Léon dismissed his vigilance as something brought on by the strangeness of his new city. And once he began his new job at the Castle, he didn’t mention being followed again, and in fact, all the tension he’d been showing disappeared, and he became almost his old self. He left the house with a sense of purpose that had been lacking in his previous aimless wanderings around Edinburgh. And the best thing was, he was beginning to understand more and more of our Scottish brogue every day.
I later discovered it wasn’t just our Scottish way of speaking he was mastering. A few days after he started work, I was in the kitchen preparing our evening meal, when I heard the front door close and Léon’s light tread in the hall. Usually he went straight upstairs to change, but this evening he came directly to the kitchen and put his head round the door. His eyes brimmed with amusement.
I stepped closer to give him a kiss, and he pushed the door wide. My mouth fell open. He was dressed in a kilt. The green tartan cloth was thrown over one broad shoulder in Highland fashion, and the pleated skirt revealed an inch or two of tanned, muscular leg above a pair of thick, cream-coloured socks.
‘Wow,’ I stuttered. ‘You look…’ I breathed out in a long whistle. ‘You look amazing.’
He smiled broadly, showing his white, even teeth in one of the first real smiles I’d seen him give since we left Europe.
‘This is my new uniform.’ He spread his arms a little, glancing down at himself. ‘Not a bad effort for a half-Italian, half-Montverrian. What do you think?’
‘Not bad at all.’ My face decided right then and there to turn a decided pink, and to hide the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, I threw my arms around his neck and planted a kiss below his ear.
His arms encircled me, and he murmured, ‘Ever made love to a man in a kilt?’
And after that, everything between us was perfect again. All my worries about Léon wanting to go home to Italy, and all his former tension vanished, and we were just as we had been during those idyllic two weeks we’d spent at his home on the Amalfi coast that summer.
But of course, perfect times can’t last forever. Everything changed when I realised it wasn’t Léon who was being followed. It was me.
Buy Links for The Scottish Diamond by Helena Fairfax
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she's secretly in love with. Her first novel, The Silk Romance, was a contender for the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme Award and a runner-up in the Global Ebook Awards. Helena Fairfax was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize in 2014.
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.
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All new subscribers to my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – a romantic suspense novella
On Helena's website you can see photos of Edinburgh, Scotland - the setting for The Scottish Romance hereHelena also talks about the superstition that surrounds Macbeth - the Scottish play - in this post.
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Thank you so much for having me today, JQ. It’s been a lot of fun taking part in this series! I hope your readers enjoyed my post. If anyone has any more questions – or any comments at all – I’d love to hear them!