Welcome to my new series: Book Talk with… where I’ll be chatting to various guests about reading and books, including their own books of course. I’m really delighted that my first guest is my friend, Helen Rolfe, who, like me, is a member of the Write Romantics group. You can find out more about the Write Romantics here.
Today is publication day for Helen’s latest novel, The Boathouse by Stepping Stone Bay. Happy publication day, Helen!
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I write contemporary women’s fiction and romantic fiction and I love creating village settings or places with a small-town feel and a big sense of community.
In my stories I feature family, friendship, and relationships at their heart. My characters often find themselves in a dilemma or facing big challenges but no matter what the obstacles I try to leave readers feeling uplifted and that they’ve been able to escape the real world for a while.
Thank you. So on with the questions! What’s the first book you remember reading or owning?
As kids we went to the library so I borrowed a lot of books. I don’t remember actually owning many until I started collecting the Enid Blyton Malory Towers series. I loved the whole boarding school concept and found it totally fascinating!
Oh, I loved the Malory Towers books. I still have them! I thought boarding school sounded amazing too. What’s your favourite childhood book, and why?
I loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I think the illustrations and the way you turned the pages to find what he’d eaten next were just a lot of fun. I’ll always remember it!
I remember reading that one to my children. Do you have a favourite among the books you’ve written yourself?
I think I’d have to say Christmas at the Little Knitting Box. I just love the shop and all the colours, so cosy, so festive, I wish it was real so I could visit.
It does sound very welcoming! You write contemporary women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Do you read any genres outside of these?
I rarely read outside of the genre because the genre is so wonderful and so wide. There are so many variations when it comes to romantic fiction and women’s fiction, I never feel that I’m reading the same things over and over again.
That’s very true! Which author/s had the biggest influence on you?
Judy Blume. I was a teenager when I discovered her books and I devoured them. She really did understand the challenges girls faced and I think it was the reality that hooked me in. What I love about her now is that I’ve heard her say that she’s not a great writer, she’s a great re-writer. This really helps as I think I’m the same. My first draft is always terrible but when I think that she struggles with it too it gives me hope!
I’ve got to admit I’ve never read any of her books. I feel I’ve missed out! Do you read books more than once?
Not always but I do have a few I have re-read. Karen Swan’s Christmas under the Stars is one of them. It’s just so magical with the Canadian setting and her writing is wonderful.
I think I’ve got that one on my to-be-read pile! Which book is your go-to comfort read?
I think anything by Sarah Morgan or Karen Swan. I curl up and just know I’m going to love it.
Do you prefer hardback, paperback, e-book, audio, or no preference?
I find hardbacks too heavy! Love paperbacks but am happy to go between those and ebooks. I have tried audio although my mind wanders way too much so I don’t listen to many books that way.
I find I’m the same with audio books. My mind drifts or I fall asleep! Probably best to keep moving while listening to them. Do you read series, or do you prefer standalones?
I like both and read both.
So what’s your current read?
I’m reading The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Leanne Moriarty.
Have you ever preferred a film or tv version to the original book?
I’m not sure I would’ve totally got Where the Crawdads Sing if I hadn’t watched the movie first. But I did enjoy the book afterwards.
I think I must be the only person in the world who hasn’t either read that book or watched the film! What’s your latest book about?
The Boathouse by Stepping Stone Bay is about returning home and facing the truth about yourself, things that happened, and what you really want out of life. The book is full of family, friendship, secrets and the journey of rekindling love that was once lost but can be found again.
That sounds like another hit! What’s next for you, Helen?
Right now I’m working on a festive book which will be book number 6 in my Heritage Cove series.
I’m sure all your fans will be delighted to know that! Thanks so much for joining me today, Helen.
Born and raised in the UK, Helen J Rolfe graduated from University with a business degree and began working in I.T. This job took her over to Australia where she eventually turned her attentions back to the career she’d dreamt of when she was fourteen. She studied writing and journalism and wrote articles for women’s health and fitness magazines. Helen began writing fiction in 2011 and hasn’t missed the I.T. world one little bit… in fact she may just have found her dream job!
Helen writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and relationships. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending.
The Boathouse by Stepping Stone Bay
Sun, sand and secrets at the bay!
As a kid, Nina O’Brien spent all her summers at her grandparents’ cabin by the beach at Stepping Stone Bay. Long, sunny days full of fun and laughter with her best friends, Leo, Adrian, and Maeve, her friendship with Leo slowly blossoming into love. Until one fateful night changed everything for them all…
Twelve years later, Nina must return to the bay to renovate the old cabin and pass it on to a new owner. But not only does Leo still live in the cabin next door, he works at his family’s boathouse right there in the bay. As they begin to work through their differences and what happened all those years ago, can Nina really walk away from him twice?
Maeve has finally returned home to face the past. Her eleven-year-old son, Jonah, loves the sea, unlike Maeve who is terrified of it. But she knows she can’t keep Jonah away from the sea or the truth forever..
A heartwarming and uplifting story about second chances and facing the secrets of the past. Perfect for fans of Philippa Ashley, Holly Martin and Ali McNamara.
The Boathouse by Stepping Stone Bay is published by Orion today!