Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town on the edge of the Yorkshire moors.

Before beginning her writing career Helena studied for a degree in languages. She’s a qualified translator as well as a writer, but most of all Helena enjoys using her language skills to create strong heroines and romantic heroes. Her way with words led readers to vote one of her scenes ‘the most romantic love scene ever.’

When not writing, Helena loves walking the moors with her dog, enjoying the changing seasons, and thinking up what happens next.

Helena is the author of The Silk Romance and The Antique Love. Her next novel, A Way from Heart to Heart, is due out on 14th December 2014 – just in time for a romantic Christmas!

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The Influence of Setting

I live in Yorkshire, in the north of England, in the place known by Yorkshire folk as God’s Own County. (We don’t suffer from typical British modesty here in Yorkshire – as you can tell!)

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The Yorkshire moors have formed the setting for many novels, and most famously for Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. When people talk of the moors they often mention their bleakness. Not much grows in this wild landscape except heather, bracken and gorse. But Charlotte Brontë wrote: ‘My sister Emily loved the moors. Flowers brighter than the rose bloomed from the blackest heath for her. Out of a sudden hollow in the hillside, her mind could make an Eden. She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights, and best loved was liberty.’

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Walking the moors every day is a big part of my routine as a writer. Here I find space and solitude; my mind can roam free, waiting for ideas to settle. As I walk, I often wonder if my surroundings have had an influence on the way I write. I like to write stories that are full of real life emotion and drama, and the dramatic landscape of the moors is a perfect reflection of that.

I haven’t always used the moors as a setting, but when I look back over my writing, I realise that some of my most pivotal scenes have taken place outdoors, in a dramatic landscape. The hero of The Antique Love, for example, is from the mountains of Wyoming, and finds himself living in London, one of the most congested cities in the world. I gave Kurt a home near one of London’s largest green spaces, in Richmond Park. In this wide, open landscape, Kurt, too, could open himself up to the heroine – something I couldn’t imagine him doing whilst walking the city’s busy streets.

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I wonder how my writing would have been if I lived in Tokyo, say, or Berlin, or any other big city. Would I still have the urge to write dramatic and wildly romantic scenes? Or would the cityscape change my writing altogether?

What do you think? Are you a writer, and do you think your environment influences how you write? When you’re reading, is there a particular style of writing that you are drawn to?

I’d love to hear your comments!

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The Antique Love, by Helena Fairfax

One rainy day in London, Wyoming man Kurt Bold walks into an antique shop off the King’s Road and straight into the dreams of its owner, Penny Rosas. Kurt certainly looks every inch the hero…but he soon brings Penny’s dreams to earth with a thump. His job is in the City, in the logical world of finance – and as far as Kurt is concerned, romance is just for dreamers.

But when Kurt hires Penny to help refurbish his Victorian house near Richmond Park, it’s not long before he starts to realise it’s not just his home she’s breathing life into. The logical heart he has guarded so carefully all these years is opening up to new emotions, in a most disturbing way…

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You can find Helena on her blog:

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on Facebook, or on Twitter @helenafairfax


Thanks so much for having me, Margaret. I’ve really enjoyed sharing my photos!




    1. margaretmendel Post author

      YAH-HOO!! That is great news about your book in a paperback edition!! I loved your photos!! It’s great to have you on my Authors / Artists blog! Wishing you tons of good fortune with this next novel, too. Perhaps you’ll come back in December and tell us more about your part of the world.

      1. Helena Fairfax

        I’d love to come back, Margaret. I have so many photos to share. In a couple of weeks I’m going up to Northumberland (the English county that borders Scotland) and will have some photos of the area and Hadrian’s Wall. I’d love to come back and share them if it’s of interest.

    2. thelma straw

      Welcome to the USA! I have read zillions of novels in my lifetime – and am completely convinced that the glue that binds us to a work of fiction is the romance… the love story that is center stage in the best books!! For example, I am going through all the books by a noted lawyer and federal judge, William Coughlin, and firmly believe that the magic that draws us to these legal stories — is not the law but the love stories! So, as a romance writer, you have boundless audiences out there all over the world! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

      1. margaretmendel Post author

        Thelma thanks for stopping by and leaving an informed comment. You are one of the most well read writers I know and trust that your comment about ‘boundless audiences’ is right on target. As always thank you for taking the time to visit and leave a comment.

      2. Helena Fairfax

        Hi Thelma, lovely to meet you. I so agree about romance being centre stage in the best books. And in films also. Think of any you’ve seen that you loved, from James Bond to Shrek, and all will have a strong thread of romance. I will check out William Coughlin. He sounds just my sort of writer!

  2. Susan Bernhardt

    Absolutely stunning photos, Helena! I love seeing the photos on your blogs. The same with your blog, Margaret. And congratulations, Helena, on your print book!

    My environment definitely influences how I write. The town where I am presently living is the setting for my Kay Driscoll series. I could give tours of the places in my mysteries (and actually have. ) And many of the characters are drawn from people I know. A couple of years back at one of our Christmas parties, fourteen of the invited guests were characters in my mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy.

    Best wishes, Helena and Margaret.

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      That is so funny Susan that 14 party guests became your characters in The Ginseng Conspiracy. I also know that place, experiences often find their way into my writing. Maybe some day I’ll visit your area Susan and then walk the moors with Helena. Thanks for stopping and leaving a comment.

    2. Helena Fairfax

      Oh, I love that you’ve used your town as the setting for the Kay Driscoll series. And taken some of the characters from real life, too! I don’t consciously do that, but sometimes when I read back I’ll realise that a character I’ve written is exactly like someone I know. It must be subconscious. Luckily no one has complained yet! Thanks for your great comment

  3. Heather Brainerd

    Thank you for sharing your lovely photos of the moors, Helena. I do think that environment has a huge impact on one’s writing. In my case, I’m surrounded by three boys, a crazy barky rescue dog, and lots of wildlife outside our many large windows. In such a zoo-like setting, my writing tends to be a bit zany. But that’s how I like it 🙂

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      Heather, you paint a really fun concept of your writing environment. Zany in my book is energetic!! Hmm, I love that there are many large windows included in your writing space. Thanks for sharing your space with us. And thanks for leaving a really cool comment.

    2. Helena Fairfax

      You’ve painted a great picture, Heather. I love the sound of your working environment. Young people are so full of life. Their company must really add a spark to your writing. I have a barky rescue dog, too, but I try to wear her out on the moors so she’ll sleep whilst I’m writing. She’s snoring away now – not really conducive to writing a romantic scene! 🙂 Thanks for your great comment

  4. Susan A. Royal

    I love your photos. They beg to be the setting for some scene in a book. The saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, is so true and seeing photos like this fill my mind with all kinds of scenarios I’d love to write about. Congrats on having The Antique Love in print. I know you must be excited.

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      Susan I agree that those photos of the setting beg to be included in a novel. Setting certainly is an important aspect of a story, well, next to the love interest in a romance novel. Thanks Susan for stopping by and leaving an important comment.

    2. Helena Fairfax

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Susan. I love it when the setting is an important part of the book. Setting can become almost like a character in its own right. I have used the Yorkshire moors as the setting for several scenes in my next novel, A Way from Heart to Heart. If you’re interested in this area, I also wrote a post recently on literature inspired by Yorkshire It’s an inspiring landscape.
      Thanks so much for your comment about The Antique Love. It really was exciting to hold the actual story in print when my first copy arrived.

  5. Nalo

    Thanks for this decription of the way your surrounding influence your writing.
    I am not a writer but a photographer who likes to write little things about his images.
    I could say that the environment determines the way I photograph, being in busy town or in mountain.
    My images are totally differents.

    I will check your next book.



    PS : Sorry for my poor English, I currently speak French.

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      Nalo, it is always a pleasure to have you visit and leave a comment. I agree that the environment is important to all artists.

    2. Helena Fairfax

      Hi Nalo, lovely to meet you! You speak very good English – better than my French! Your photos sound intriguing. Thanks very much for sharing about them, and for your comment.

  6. Kenneth Hicks

    Hi Helena,
    One day i hope you will post some pictures of “heather, bracken and gorse” so I can finally see what this is!

    I love your photographs and they have strengthened my resolve to visit that part of the world soon.

    I am sure that surroundings influence us. All four of our recently published books are based squarely in New York City. But I love nature the big sky, which I am able to get a piece of from my terrace. I have the best of both worlds, I think.

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      Glad you stopped by and left a comment Kenneth. Yes, Helena’s blog post makes me want to visit your part of the world, too. And BTW, I also look out from my NYC terrace.

    2. Helena Fairfax

      Hi Ken, I’ve visited your part of the world and the sense of space is something I won’t forget. It’s hard to describe how it feels arriving on an enormous continent from a small island. I didn’t expect all the cliches to be true, but I felt it immediately, and recognise it from your phrase “the big sky”. I hope you do make it here one day. I’d love to know your impressions.
      And I’ll try and post photos of heather, gorse and broom on my FB page 🙂 Thanks for coming by, and for your great comment.

  7. J.Q. Rose

    Sorry I’m a bit late, well more than a bit late, but just had to comment on the gorgeous photos of the moors. Each time I hear you talk bout this lovely place, Helena, I yearn to visit. I write stories which take place in a small town because I’m a small town gal. Growing up in a farm town in Central Illinois, went to college in not a huge city, lived in small towns all my married life, I understand the people who live there. You can imagine I find my characters in small towns too. Thanks for sharing your pictures and your “neck of the woods.”

    1. margaretmendel Post author

      J.Q. it’s always great to hear from you. You’re never too late to drop by. I keep the door open 24-7! Yes, wouldn’t it be great to visit Helena!!

    2. Helena Fairfax

      It would be wonderful if you both could visit! And thanks for dropping in, JQ, it’s always lovely to hear from you, no matter what the hour! Interesting to hear a little of the background to how you write. I love stories set in a small town, where everyone is familiar and they’ve known each other all their lives. Maybe it’s because I didn’t experience this growing up, as my family moved around quite a lot. Thanks for dropping in and keeping the party going! 🙂

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