Tell us a bit about your writing – How long have you been writing? How many books have you written and in what genres?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a child. In my twenties I tried a few romances, but didn’t get anywhere with publication. After a long gap devoted to raising my family and getting back to work, when I finally started writing again, I wrote a humorous chick-lit which I love, but haven’t find a home for yet. I went back to straight romance, and Warm Hearts in Winter is my first published novel.
Where is your favourite spot in which to write? Garden? Study? Kitchen table? In bed?
I write in the attic because that’s where the most reliable computer is. I’m currently angling for a shed or tiny summer house in the garden for next spring though …
Do you prefer to write with pen and paper or straight to the computer?
Definitely straight to the computer. My writing is illegible and can’t keep up with my brain! But I do scribble lots of notes, and if I’m out and about filling in time somewhere, I might draft out a scene on scraps of paper.
Do you plan a plot out in great detail before writing or start with the basics and let the book evolve that way?
No, I don’t plot out much at all at the start – I’ll have a basic premise in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to somehow … but beyond that, I tend to allow my characters to take me where they want to go!
Do you ever get part way through writing a book and find the characters are leading the story off in a different direction to how you had envisaged?
Definitely – that’s the part I like best about writing. For characters to go their own way just like real people, it means you must have done your job properly creating them. And it’s fun to see where they lead you (until you realise that great scene you’d crafted out so lovingly for later in the book no longer fits …)
Is there such a thing as an average writing day for you and if so what is it?
No, no average writing day. I have a day job and a family, so for now it’s just a case of grabbing patches of time. I hate doing just ten minutes here and there, though – I like to have a good stretch, perhaps for a morning at the weekend, with a decent coffee on my desk!
How do you create the characters in your books?
They have to be pretty real to me but I’m not sure where they come from, to be honest. I don’t base them on people I know, maybe just the odd characteristic. For the hero, I might have a particular actor in mind to start with … but by the end of the book, that’s long forgotten and he’s his own man.
What is your favourite book of all time?
That’s tough! I’d probably go with The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, because it made such a huge impression on me in my mid-teens. We had to read it in school and not all my friends enjoyed it, but I really got Holden Caulfield. I read it in the early-eighties and had no idea it had been written thirty years before until I was nearly at the end of the book.
What is your favourite film of all time?
Some Like It Hot. That film hasn’t got one wasted word – the script is superb and the acting … well, who can think of Jack Lemmon and Joe E Brown doing the tango without smiling? My kids and I can pretty much quote it verbatim and we still watch it every couple of years or so.
Biggest myth about being a novelist?
Writing a book’s easy, isn’t it? Anyone can do it … all they need is a laptop. And anyone can earn money like J K Rowling if they just persevere like she did.
Advice to aspiring novelists?
Don’t believe the myths!
About the book:
Warm Hearts in Winter by Helen Pollard
Can two hearts thaw on the midwinter moors?
Forced by circumstance into the world of temping, when Abby Davis accepts an assignment in the wilds of Yorkshire as personal assistant to a widowed novelist, she assumes he is an ageing recluse.
Thirty-something Jack Blane is anything but. Still struggling to get his life and writing career back on track three years after his wife’s death, Jack isn’t ready for a breath of fresh air like Abby.
Snowed in at his winter retreat on the moors, as the weeks go by and their working relationship becomes friendship and maybe more, Abby must rethink her policy of never getting involved with someone at work … and Jack must decide whether he is willing to risk the pain of love a second time.
Grab a copy of the book
Excerpt from Chapter One:
Abby chewed her lip in anxious concentration as she peered through the windscreen, her fingers gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles were white. The narrow country road would be hard to negotiate at the best of times, but in the dark and the snow it was almost impossible. Despite her slow speed, the full beam from her headlights barely showed a bend until she was almost upon it — but since there was nowhere to turn around, all she could do was grit her teeth, stay calm and fervently hope her satnav didn't lead her down a sheep track or into a swollen river.
She allowed herself a soft curse at the weather and directed another at Casey while she was at it. It was all her fault this was happening. No, that wasn't true. Her friend was only trying to help, and it was because of their friendship that Abby had been foolish enough to accept this assignment. That and the fact she'd had little choice in the matter. Her recent bad luck — if that was what you could call it — hadn't allowed her the luxury of choice. She needed a job. Her best friend managed a temping agency. A job came up. Abby had exactly ten minutes to decide whether to accept the post of personal assistant to some thriller writer she'd never heard of. Casey had heard of him and recommended she did. Actually, she reminded her she was in no position to refuse. It would be a challenge, Casey said. Unusual, Casey said. Abby trusted her and accepted.
And now look. Desperate to set off before the weather deteriorated, she'd packed in such a hurry she'd probably forgotten half of what she needed, and she'd been driving for two hours through conditions that only got worse by the minute. She wasn't sure her ageing car could take much more. The wipers were clogged with the thick snowflakes that swirled across the windscreen, reducing visibility to virtually nothing. She had no idea what she would do if something came in the opposite direction — although she was so far out in the middle of nowhere she doubted there was another soul around. That is, apart from Jack Blane — her new boss for the next few weeks — who in his wisdom had chosen to write his latest novel miles from civilization on the bleak
moors in the worst winter weather for years. Abby had heard writers liked
solitude, but this was ridiculous!
Just as she was beginning to think this whole thing must be a bad dream, her satnav archly informed her she was nearly there. Abby slowed her car to a crawl, peering over the steering wheel like an old lady who'd forgotten her glasses.
"Nearly where?" she asked the machine's know-it-all voice.
A dark shape loomed at the side of the road, and she screeched to a halt. Not a bright move. The car skidded nearly full circle, and Abby had to fight both the wheel and her own panic to regain control. Her heart thudding, she opened the driver's window and stuck her head out. A house of forbidding dark stone, dusted liberally with snow, stood silhouetted against the grey sky. Abby glared at her satnav and back at the house. Well, this must be it. There was certainly nowhere else in sight.
"Great. Out of the frying pan and straight onto the set of Wuthering Heights," she muttered.
About the Author:
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She firmly believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor - to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love ... and we all need a little love, right?
A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers. They share space with a Jekyll and Hyde cat that alternates between being obsessively affectionate and viciously psychotic. Antiseptic cream is always close at hand.
When Helen’s not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.
Find Helen on: