Author Helen Pollard opens up in an exclusive piece for Female First
Author Helen Pollard opens up in an exclusive piece for Female First

To celebrate the release of her new book, Christmas at Fox Farm, we asked author Helen Pollard to open up for her readers to reveal some things all about her, that she'd like them to know. Here's what she had to reveal...

1. I love Christmas. Mulled wine, Christmas trees, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, fairy lights, classic movies, a pretty snowfall… What’s not to like? Most of my books so far have been set in the summer, so I decided it was about time for a festive story!

2. I love Yorkshire. I was brought up in the suburbs of Leeds, but my mother loved the Yorkshire Dales and as a family, we often went out for drives through the countryside and Sunday lunch. My mother’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Although the Dales are wonderful at any time of year, I prefer them in the winter, with the bare branches of the trees silhouetted against the sky, the sheep huddled against the drystone walls… A frosting of snow makes the scene just perfect. Once I’d decided my new novel should be about a country Christmas, there was no doubt where to choose for its setting.

3. My settings are always fictional, but I have to be able to picture them clearly. I always create a fictional setting for my stories, within the wider scope of a real area. For Christmas at Fox Farm, the café and gallery complex and the owner’s cottage, along with the nearby village of Winterbridge, are entirely made up, but the nearby villages, towns and countryside are all very real. I have to be able to picture my setting, to really be there, in order to see the story unfolding. Creating a setting from scratch takes away all restraints – I can make it exactly how I want it, to suit the plot and the characters.

4. My characters have to be real to me. Just like the setting, my characters must seem totally real to me. I need to believe in them, otherwise I know my readers I won’t, so I live with them constantly in my head – with their worries and trials and good times. And I really hate saying goodbye to them when their story is finished. It takes quite a while for my head to move onto new characters and a new story.

5. Poorly-written dialogue ruins a book for me. I do my utmost to make the dialogue in my books as realistic as possible. If the dialogue doesn’t sound natural, the characters won’t come across as real people. As a reader, badly-written dialogue is guaranteed to jar me out of the story, even if I’m enjoying the plot.

6. I love to put humour in my books. The amount of humour I inject into my books depends on the story, but there always has to be some. My characters have their trials and tribulations, but they also enjoy fun and laughter. The reader needs that light relief. I love thinking up banter between my characters and daft situations to put them in.

7. Home is where your heart is. It’s not always about family, but everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere. All my books so far are about my characters finding their way and finally working out where they belong. In Christmas at Fox Farm, artist Daisy has never had a permanent home. She spent her childhood with several foster families and her adult life moving from one temporary arrangement to the other. Even Fox Farm is supposed to be temporary, but she soon realises that it feels more like home than anywhere she has ever been after its kindly owner Jean takes her under her wing. When Jean becomes ill and Daisy’s situation is threatened, she must do everything she can to help Jean’s nephew Alex to keep it going, in the small hope that she can stay in the one place where she feels she finally belongs.

Christmas at Fox Farm by Helen Pollard is out now.

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