I’m wrapping up the week with mystery novelist Helen J. Christmas. We’re chatting about the third book in her Same Face Different Place series, Pleasures. It is a romantic suspense, YA, British Noir.
Welcome, Helen. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am an English author living on the south coast with my husband, Peter where share our lovely 17th Century thatched cottage with a black and white collie dog and a large, fluffy white cat.
I have been writing on and off for most of my life. My current romantic suspense series was inspired when I was walking our dog along the beach, daydreaming about my life, when a series of characters and stories started to materialize inside my head. I was born in 1964 and remember the eras of the 70s and 80s - I thought ‘how great it would be to write an epic story that took the reader on a journey through the decades of Britain!’
It was in 2011 when my series ‘Same Face Different Place’ was born. It starts in 1972 where two young characters are drawn into a political conspiracy to murder a British politician and they end up on the run. This debut novel (Beginnings) is enriched with my own memories of the fashion, culture and music. Book 2 (Visions) kicks off 12 years later and travels through the 1980s. Last year I completed the 3rd book of my series, (Pleasures) where the story speeds towards the 90s. It is part suspense thriller, part YA, since it includes the lives and times of the next generation of characters.
Please tell us about your current release.
Pleasures is a gripping suspense thriller where the main character of the series, Eleanor, finally starts to unravel clues of a mystery that began in the 70s. She confides in her son, who at the age of 14 is becoming more curious but at the same time, she lives in fear of her most dangerous enemy, Perry. The book is a race between Eleanor finding the evidence she needs and Perry’s attempts to destroy what she knows at any cost. The youngsters too get involved in this passionate story, set around the early 90s club and rave culture.
What inspired you to write this book?
I remember the club scene of the 90s when the media was filled with news of a designer drug called ‘ecstasy’ and its link to illegal raves - it has been the subject of many good crime thriller of the era - I enjoyed researching it.
Excerpt from Pleasures:
Margaret was still running - her staggering steps pulling her deeper and deeper into the heart of the forest, away from the boots thundering after her. She was sobbing in terror, glancing back at the stage where the light had been gradually fading dimmer.
One minute they had all been dancing. It was so beautiful; those magical seconds when she had snatched William’s eye. It had been like a dream, a transitory flicker of time where he had materialised like an angel. The joining of hands, the pulse of brilliant music where all she could see was flashing lights. Everything glowed, the entire forest effervescent with movement and with the lingering effects of the ecstasy, she had felt sublimely happy.
Then came the screams coiling up from the crowd. Margaret thought she was hallucinating; staring in disbelief at the demonic, hooded figures with their black masks. They rose out of no-where like evil spirits about to destroy their enchanted forest...
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently writing the fourth and final book of the series Retribution.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was six years old! I had a drawing book in which I scribbled out a fairy tale in pencil, complete with pictures - in fact I’ve still got it.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Hah hah, I wish! Writing full time would be a dream but alas no... I have two jobs: 1) I am a web designer - my husband and I run a small business from home and we have a portfolio of customers to look after. 2) I have a part time job in a supermarket (3 days a week) as an online shopper. It involves a 5:00 in the morning start - but I finish at 9am so have the rest of the day ahead of me. On those days I get a couple of hours writing done in the afternoon and on every other day, I make time early in the morning.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My dog always comes and sits in the office with me when I write. He is my muse and it’s not the same if he’s not present.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Other than writing I enjoy the research. I connect with people I possibly never would; such as a retired army officer and a neurological research doctor (for the next book). I like to travel to the locations of my books too - especially London. For example, I took an exciting ride on the London underground to research a chase scene in one of my books.
I’ll finish by saying, I feel gifted to be a writer and enjoy inspiring others to follow their dreams.
3 books on Amazon belonging to ‘Same Face Different Place’ series which is also available as a Boxed Set: Beginnings, Visions, and Pleasures.
Thank you for being here today, Helen!