I am sitting on the terrace overlooking the Chasm of Despair with romance author, Helena Fairfax, who has been telling about her brand new novel - The Silk Romance. If thoughts of the chasm are enough to make one feel like leaping over the parapet, I can assure you that Helena is wonderful company and my thoughts are very pleasant ones indeed.
I am also very pleased that Helena brought her dog along to the Citadel, too. It is rare thing that we have such fine animals here on the mountain. Helena tells me that she is a 'rescue dog', in that Helena rescued her from previous maltreatment and given her a loving and caring home. However, what we were not expecting was for her to save my butler, Stanislav, from the clutches of a giant spider. The poor man had wandered into one of the old rooms in the East Wing and fallen foul to the ravenous arachnid. We heard his desperate screams and, fearing the worst, rushed over to help him. I had thought him a goner, for sure, as we entered the chamber - but Helena's dog fearlessly pounced on the foul creature and sent it scurrying up to the rafters, hissing and spitting. She is definitely a 'rescue' dog - that is for sure!
Anyway, Helena is about to go for a walk in the Jizera Mountains. Here is the interview we did earlier:
We are extremely pleased you have journeyed to us in the Karkonose, Helena. Can you tell us something about the place where you usually dwell and your background?It’s lovely to be here, o Mountain Lord! Thanks for inviting me. It’s fabulous to be drinking tea up here in the citadel. Great view! My home is in the Victorian town of Saltaire, right next to the Yorkshire moors.
Are you enjoying your visit to the Citadel?It’s been brilliant. It’s a bit out of the way, but luckily I’m used to walking, since I’m out tramping the moors every day with my dog, rain or snow – which it generally does. Oh, and I brought my dog with me today. I hope you don’t mind? She can be quite aggressive, because she’s a rescue dog and has had a bad time previously. In fact, she doesn’t particularly like gnomes. I’m wondering if it was a gnome who caused her a trauma in her previous life. Anyway, if you could warn your gnomes to keep their distance. I wouldn’t like any of them to be set on.
ML: I am wondering if I could clone her as a 'gnome dog'. Legend has it that these magnificent animals existed long ago, but vanished during the Lumpl Epoch.
Tell us what is happening to you at the moment as a writer.My very first novel, The Silk Romance, was published on May 24th by MuseItUp Publishing, and is now available in e-format. It’s been a really exciting time for me, and I’ve had a great response to my book. It’s a sweet romance between a Frenchman and a young English girl, set in the silk-weaving district of Lyon. It’s an uplifting story, and if you like happy endings, you’ll enjoy this one.
ML: It looks wonderful. Princess Ruby has talked about nothing else all week!
Do you have anything exciting lined up for the future?I have a second novel out in September – The Antique Love – and I’m supposed to be working on my third as we speak, but the lure of tea and biscuits in the citadel has proved too great to resist!
We employ lots of gnomes here at the citadel. They are quite rambunctious and troublesome at times, and often refuse to work. Do you have any tips on looking after them?I’ll just let my dog off the lead…
ML: The little creatures are squealing already. What an effect! The giant spider population seems to be getting smaller, too.
I have a long running feud with Vlad Dracula, who lives over in Transylvania. He thinks I stole his wife and will not let it lie. Do you any recommendations on how I should deal with the grumpy old curmudgeon?For advice, I would turn to the pages of my novel, The Silk Romance, and ask myself “What would Jean-Luc do?” Jean-Luc is the hero of my story. I think the answer is, he would keep a dignified silence. If approached by Vlad, he would wither him with the lift of a Gallic eyebrow, before giving an indifferent shrug of his broad shoulders.
ML: This Jean-Luc chap. Is he available for seminars?
My wife Ruby says I spend too much time in the local village and not enough time counting turnips for her. How can I keep her happy?
There are two approaches. Approach one:
You: “I’ve counted the turnips, and there are 42. I’m just off down to the village.”
Ruby: “There’s never 42! There’s at least a couple of hundred. Go and count again.”
Ten minutes later. You: “I’ve counted again, and there’s 86. Just off down to the village.”
Ruby: “You what? 86? Can’t you count?”
You: “Actually, no, I’m no good at counting. You’d better do it yourself. I’m just off down to the village.”
This may work. I have often found incompetence to be a great asset. If not, try approach two:
You: “Forget turnips. Turnips are passé. I’ve just finished The Silk Romance, and it’s all about salade d’epinards and tartes aux pralines. We need to branch out with a little French cuisine.”
ML: You have made me lose count, Helena. Gah!
How can people find you on this Internet thing-a-me-jig? Do you have a web address or other ways that lovely book fans can read more about you?
I have a blog here at www.helenafairfax.com
also a Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/pages/Helena-Fairfax/478414605529111
and you can find me on Twitter @HelenaFairfax
The Silk Romance is available from MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, Kobo and other major e-tailers.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Mountain Lord. Sorry about the havoc wreaked by my dog. I have insurance, if your gnomes want to claim. Throwing her some of Ruby’s meat and turnip pasty was a brainwave. Her jaws have been welded shut for hours.
ML: Is that Mme Petruszka's recipe? Those pasty things originally date from the dark ages. We used to hurl them from the battlements at invading barbarians, some of who were even foolish enough to try eating them.
Anyway, you are most welcome, Helena. We hope you visit again.
P.S. I am not sure the giant spiders would be keen to see your lovely dog again, but they will just have to get over it.
The Silk Romance
Jean-Luc Olivier is a courageous racing driver with the world before him. Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London. The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairy tale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future. She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London. One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.
Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc. He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie. He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.
Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow. But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness. Jean-Luc has secrets of his own. Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.