It was great to catch up with author Helen Pollard recently and ask her a few questions about her reading and writing habits. This is what she shared with me!
Who was your favourite author when you were a child and why?
I’m sure you’ve heard this before from writers you’ve featured (Oh yes Helen!) – I know I have in conversations! – but I loved Enid Blyton, especially her Magic Faraway Tree books. I read them over and over again, well past my bedtime. “Lights out” couldn’t stop me – I would pull back my curtain and read by the light from the street lamps! Perhaps that’s why I’ve worn glasses since my teens …?! haha Helen, you and me both! My mum always used to say to me, you”ll need glasses when you’re older….and she was right!
Did you have a favourite childhood book?
The Magic Faraway Tree books were precious, but I also loved A Child’s Garden of Verses by R.L. Stevenson because his poems described life through a child’s eyes. They helped me realise that I wasn’t the only child with imagined worlds in my head!
Who is your favourite author now and do you have a particular genre which you read frequently?
I tend to read quite a lot of women’s fiction in similar genres to my own, as you can imagine. Occasionally I’ll read a thriller – maybe Harlan Coben or Michael Connelly – but I can’t cope with anything gory or upsetting.
My favourite author at the moment is Andrea Camilleri. His Inspector Montalbano books are quirky and funny, with one or more mysteries and great characters. I feel like I can really escape into them, which is all I ask of a good book.
When and what was your first publication?
Warm Hearts in Winter, a ‘sweet’ romance, was published in Sept 2014 by a digital press in the US. I wrote another for them, Holding Back, but then moved onto more humorous ‘chick lit’ with my Little French Guesthouse series for UK publisher Bookouture.
How did you get into writing and why?
It’s back to Enid Blyton, I think. As a child, I loved the way she created new worlds in every chapter and I wanted to be able to do that for myself, so I started writing stories in a special notebook. I continued to write as a hobby in my teens, then in my early twenties I unsuccessfully sent a couple of romances off to a publisher. Writing went on the back burner while I raised my family and later went back to work, but as the kids became more independent, I took it up again and was surprised by how much I’d missed that process of creating a whole world of my own in words.
Do you have a writing timetable?
That depends on whether I have a deadline, when I have to be more disciplined! I like to get any admin, e-mails etc. out of the way before I can feel free to get creative, so I tend not to start writing properly until after my mid-morning coffee. Unfortunately, nowadays I’m decaff so I don’t get quite the jolt I used to!
Do you have a special place where you write? Maybe with a view or special things surrounding you as you write?
I write in the attic. It’s supposed to be a study, but inevitably it’s full of junk that we mean to sort out some day but never do. I have to keep my eyes on the screen and mentally block out the mess. My resolution this year is to have a real go at it so that it’s a more relaxing place to be. No view, I’m afraid, but it doesn’t take much to distract me so perhaps that’s no bad thing!
What is your latest publication?
Summer at the Little French Guesthouse was published in July last year, and it’s the third and final book in my series set at La Cour des Roses in the Loire area of France. Writing a trilogy was wonderful but hard work, so I’ve had to take the decision to avoid any new major deadlines while I cope with my elderly parents. That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped writing altogether, though – I’m currently working on an anthology with a group of fellow northern authors for this summer, for which my contribution is more manageable, and I’m enjoying being back at the keyboard.
Any tips for aspiring writers?
You need to believe in your work – otherwise how can you expect anyone else to? – but you also need to be honest with yourself about where you can improve.
Study the world of writing and publishing online – there’s a lot of information out there. Being published isn’t just about writing – there’s a whole world of marketing, social media, blogging etc. that goes with it. That shouldn’t put you off, but it’s best to know what you’re letting yourself in for!
Thank you Helen and let me know when the anthology is published please.
You can find Helen at: