Thursday, 24 September 2015

Q & A with Helen J Rolfe

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1.    Did you always dream of being a writer?

I wanted to be a writer when I was very young but then the writing bug didn’t bite properly until much later.

I graduated with a business related degree and ended up working as a computer programmer for seven years before taking a freelance journalism course and writing for women’s fitness magazines.

I started writing fiction in 2011 and haven’t looked back since!

2.    Your newest novel Handle Me with Care was published this year, what is it about?

It’s a novel about second chances and having the courage to move on. This is the blurb, taken from the back cover of the book. It was a joy to write and I loved the characters, Evan and Maddie. I had a lot of fun with them!

Does true love come along more than once in a lifetime?

Maddie Kershaw doesn’t think so. She lost the love of her life in the 9/11 attacks, and since then has hopped from one casual fling to the next. But when she delivers an erotic cake to a one-hundredth birthday party by mistake, she meets Evan and starts to believe in second chances … until she realises there’s a risk of getting hurt all over again.

Evan Quinn is serially single, yet when he meets Maddie he feels an instant connection, so much so that he confesses on their first date that he may have testicular cancer. Was it a mistake to tell her? He wants Maddie more than he has ever wanted any other woman. But he doesn’t want her pity.

With the odds stacked against them both, finding love won’t be easy. But beneath the Australian sun, a Happy Ever After could be worth fighting for.

3.    What was your inspiration for the book?

I like writing romantic fiction but I also like my characters to have challenges that they need to overcome. Therefore I gave both Evan and Maddie some fairly tough issues to deal with as I think people can relate to characters that aren’t entirely perfect.

4.    Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Evan is incredibly sexy and a lot of fun. He’s a primary school teacher but one of those men who looks more at home on a rugby field, until you get to know him. Beneath that rugged exterior, he’s sensitive and kind.

Maddie has built a protective wall around herself to prevent herself from getting hurt but once she lets you in, she’s a girl who is in a relationship for keeps.

5.    Where and when do you write your stories?

We have been moving around a bit so my desks have been in many places. My first desk was the kitchen table, and then I progressed to a room at the back of our garage until the cockroaches scared me away! Next I set up a desk in our walk-in wardrobe and then once in the UK I finally had a study/spare room to work in.

We’ve just moved again and I’ll have a dedicated study once we’re sorted so I’m very excited! Having the laptop set up and a chair positioned makes writing much easier. Mostly I work when the kids are at school but sometimes for an hour or a few hours in the evening depending on what stage I’m at with a manuscript. I’m working on the first draft of book 4 right now so it’s important to try to do a little bit each day so I don’t lose momentum.

6.    What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love to read, like most writers, but I also like to get out and about. I love Pilates and couldn’t go too long without a class as sitting in a chair all day isn’t too good for the body! I love Zumba and Body Combat too so try to make a class once a week, and other than that I spend time with my husband and children.

7.    You also wrote The Friendship Tree, can you tell us more about it?

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book. The Friendship Tree is also romantic fiction and set in Australia.

Is running away ever the answer?

Tamara Harding left the UK to join family in Australia, but more importantly, to put ten thousand miles between her and her ex, Bradley Cox. She is soon drawn in to the small community of Brewer Creek where she becomes the coordinator for an old fashioned Friendship Tree – a chart telling people who they can call on in times of trouble.

As she vows to start over, she meets Jake Manning – and life gets more complicated than she could ever have imagined. Jake is the direct competitor for the family business, and a man with a dark secret, and Tamara struggles to fight her attraction to him as she deals with secrets of her own and an ex who refuses to give up.

When danger descends on Brewer Creek in the form of Jake’s own past, Tamara soon realises the Friendship Tree does a lot more than organise fundraising events and working bees; it has the power to unite an entire town. But will Tamara see past the complications and allow herself a happy ending with Jake?

Or will she run away again?

8.    If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Bridget Jones. I loved my thirties and that girl has a lot of fun!

9.    What books have most influenced your life most?

Judy Blume books without a doubt. I read all of them when I was growing up and the way she draws her characters is just fantastic.

10. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m busy liaising with my editor and cover designer for book 3 which is due to be released 3rd November 2015.  All will be revealed soon! What Rosie Found Next is set in Magnolia Creek and follows the story of Rosie who house sits and gets more than she bargained for.

11. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love immersing myself in different worlds and having characters do things that constantly surprise me!

12.  Imagine Handle Me with Care would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

I think I’d have to say Kate Beckinsale for Maddie and James Marsden as Evan.

13.  The cover of Handle Me with Care is beautiful, how was it developed?

Cover design takes longer than you think! I complete a brief for the cover designer first…she hasn’t read the book so you need to think of key moments, places, words and objects that may be important. Part of the brief is to summarise the story and characters too so that the cover designer gets a feel for the book you’ve written.

The cover designer and myself spend a while looking at various mock-ups. With Handle Me with Care I loved the flower border but I also loved the heart which was on another image, so through conversation and a bit of emailing back and forth, we ended up with a cover I absolutely adore!

14. Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

Enid Blyton, Judy Blume and Jaqueline Wilson. I’m totally in awe of anyone who can write that well for children, and I’d love to have dinner with all three of them.

15. You lived in Australia for 14 years, what do you like most about that beautiful country?

There’s so much to like from the weather to the beautiful scenery. The only thing missing from Australia was family, so I hope to go back and at least visit some day in the not too distant future.

16. Coffee or tea?

Ha ha…neither! I’m a hot chocolate girl through and through.

17. Paperback or e-reader?

Both…I honestly read in both formats and I like the variety.

18. Mountains or the sea?


19. Summer or winter?


20. Sweet or salty?

Sweet…chocolate wins!


Twitter: @HJRolfe

I also blog with The Write Romantics at

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