It’s Wednesday, and I’m so excited to have Helen Pollard visiting with us again. Helen’s newest release, Holding Back, is the perfect summer romance. What could be more romantic than a love story unfolding in the beautiful country of Portugal? The minute I saw where her novel took place I knew I had to read it. My mother’s parents were born in Portugal and I would love to see the country someday. Take a look at the lovely cover, read the blurb and then we’ll chat with Helen.
The last thing they’re looking for is love …
Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends’ hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.
Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn’t have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.
As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?
CL: Tell us what sparked the idea for your current novel Holding Back.
HP: Definitely the setting. I visited the area around Viana do Castelo a couple of times a few years ago, and it was so beautiful, it stayed with me until my imagination came up with the characters and story to go with it.
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 story in mind, and certain points or events I know I want to get to … Beyond that, I tend to let my characters take me where they want to go. It’s more fun that way!
CL: What was the most difficult part of writing Holding Back?
HP: My characters have a habit of taking over and doing their own thing, which I like because they become like real people to me and – hopefully – the reader. But of course, this can have its drawbacks! In Holding Back, both Daniel and Laura turned out differently from what I had in mind when I started. Laura’s motivation altered subtly, so I had to rethink how she reacted to events and to Daniel, and he started out on the stroppy side but soon made it clear he didn’t want to be that way throughout, which was nice because he became a much more sympathetic hero.
CL: What made you choose the setting of Portugal for Holding Back (it’s made me add it to my dream travel list :))
HP: It’s a few years since I’ve been there, but it truly is a beautiful place with very friendly people. My first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter, was set on the bleak, snow-covered Yorkshire moors, so I wanted to write about somewhere full of summer and green countryside as a contrast. That area of Portugal had lodged in my brain since my holidays there and seemed like the perfect choice!
CL: Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a published author.
HP: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel the urge to write, but as for publication, I made a few failed attempts at having romances published when I was in my twenties, then stopped writing while I raised my family and later went back to work (no time and too tired!) As the kids grew older, the urge to write again began to nag at me and I took it up again about five years or so ago. This time I was determined to aim for publication, but I became quite discouraged after spending a couple of years writing my book and then another couple of years caught in the soul-destroying cycle of posting it off to agents, waiting months for a rejection letter or getting no response at all, re-polishing it, sending it somewhere else … I put that manuscript aside and wrote something new, then cut out the middle man, so to speak, by sending it direct to a publisher. I was delighted when Warm Hearts in Winter was accepted by Clean Reads (formerly Astraea Press) last year, and this year Holding Back.
CL: What advice would you offer aspiring writers on the writing business?
HP: If you don’t believe in your work, no-one else will! But you need to be honest with yourself and work on areas that need improvement. Also, be aware that getting published doesn’t end with writing your book or even getting a contract. There’s a whole world of marketing, social media, blogging etc. that goes with it, something many new writers simply aren’t prepared for.
CL: Can you tell us a little bit about what you are working on now?
HP: I’m polishing up a manuscript set mainly in the Loire region of France, but it isn’t a straightforward romance – I guess it’s contemporary women’s fiction with humor and just an element of romance. That makes it more difficult to find a home for, but I personally love it, so I’ll keep trying.
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She 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 and a psychotic cat. When she’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:
Website & Blog: http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
Purchase Holding Back from these retailers:
Barnes & Noble:
Many thanks to Helen for stopping by! Happy reading!