It’s Wednesday and I’m pleased to have Helen Pollard with us to chat about her debut release, Warm Hearts in Winter. What could be better as we move toward winter than a romantic story that takes place at a winter retreat? Even better, the hero in Warm Hearts in Winter is a hurting writer, struggling to get his life and writing career back on track. That sold it for me! Read the blurb below and then we’ll talk to Helen about her writing process and more.
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.
CL: Tell us what sparked the idea for your current novel Warm Hearts in Winter.
HP: When I was a child, my family visited the village of Haworth in Yorkshire (home of the Bronte sisters) every year near Christmas, and on the drive, I wondered who lived in those old stone houses looking out over the wild wintry moors. Fast-forward ahem-number of years, and my imagination dreamed up Jack Blane, a widowed novelist who uses his house as a retreat for solitude, writing, and nursing his broken heart – until temporary personal assistant Abby comes along to maybe help him mend that heart.
CL: Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Do you outline before you begin to write or are you a pantser?
HP: I don’t do a detailed outline 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!
CL: What was the most difficult part of writing your current novel Warm Hearts in Winter?
HP: Having the courage to go back to a genre I’d tried before, but make it much better this time.
CL: Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a published author.
HP: I made a few failed attempts at having romances published when I was in my twenties. Some of the rejections were encouraging, others generic … but then I stopped writing while I raised my family and later went back to work (no time and too tired!) I started writing again about five years ago, a humorous chick-lit that had been simmering in the back of my brain for years, and began sending it to agents. After two years on the merry-go-round of post it off, wait weeks if not months for a rejection letter, re-polish it, send it somewhere else, I decided the manuscript should take a long rest – although I still hope to find a home for it one day.
I went back to writing straight romance, and Warm Hearts in Winter was born. As I wrote, I researched romance publishers and when I read about Astraea Press, my instinct told me to go for it. To my delight, they offered me a contract, and a few months later, here I am, a published author!
CL: What advice would you offer aspiring writers on the writing business?
HP: You have to believe in the quality of your writing, but you also have to be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and work on them. And it’s not all about the writing, but also the learning process. Because I was aiming for publication, I spent hundreds of hours learning how to improve my writing and trawling the internet for information about writing and the writing world. And you need to be aware that after the contract comes the marketing, the social media … None of that should put you off if you have the real urge to write, but it helps to know what you’re letting yourself in for!
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.
Readers can connect with Helen at:
You can purchase Warm Hearts in Winter from these retailers:
Much thanks to Helen for stopping by! Happy reading!