22 June 2016

Q&A Interview with Helen J.Christmas

Today I am very excited that Helen J. Christmas author of Same Face Different Place series has dropped by my blog to take part in my Q&A Interview. So without further ado I would like to welcome Helen J. Christmas.




Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I am an avid reader and writer, with a passion for good stories. I’m lucky to be living in an idyllic 17th Century thatched cottage with my husband, Peter where we run our own web design business from home. We share our cottage with an overweight fluffy white cat called Theo and a border collie called Barney and as we live right near the sea, I enjoy taking him for lovely walks along the beach (which is the idea for my first series of books began.) I trained in marketing and graphic design and worked for a number of different companies before my husband and I decided to go self-employed.


When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? And how did you go about it?
I’ve always been a writer from the time I wrote an illustrated book of fairy stories at the age of six! In my teens, I wrote comic stories and experimented with different genres throughout my adulthood. I even wrote a few articles for local magazines as well as impassioned letters to a local newspaper. Writing seems to be ingrained in my soul.


How did I go about it? I was thinking about my current book series long before I started writing it (wondering if I would ever have time) but there came a weekend when I just knew I was ready. I found myself on a loose end, one Sunday, got the laptop out and I just went for it. 12 months later, I self-published my debut novel ‘Beginnings’ on Amazon.


Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
My books don’t slot neatly into any one genre. My series ‘Same Face Different Place’ is a mystery that stretches over four decades; the first book, ‘Beginnings,’ is part romance and part thriller set in the ganglands of 1970s London. The second book ‘Visions’ is more a psychological thriller. Though there are crime elements, I don’t consider it a crime thriller. It does contain elements of social history to depict each decade - it is very dark and depicts a corrupt world so I think it also falls under the banner of British Noir.


What is your writing process? And how long does it take?
I love writing and try and fit some into every day. I am working hard on my fourth book now and trying to finish the series. Early mornings work best for me as there are no distractions. My first book took me a year to complete from start to finish but as it was my first, my writing style did improve and I did another edit on it last year.


Books 2 and 3 took two years to each complete. Writing the first draft is always the fun part when you are developing story lines from a synopsis. After that, I go through several stages of editing. It is like a rough diamond that has to be honed down to perfection. I am lucky enough to have a few beta readers who give vital feedback before it goes live.


Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
They are all purely fictional though in truth, I get ideas from people I know in real life. People ask, which character is mine? I reply, there is a little of me in all of them, even the baddies! Human beings are complex and it takes the experiences and knocks in life to shape us into the people we are. People can also change. For example one of the characters one would imagine as ‘good’ turns bad through drug addiction; while one of the inherently ‘evil’ characters mellows, as a result of good fortune, family life and kids.


Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
Woven into the story are social and political changes that have shaped my own life as well as the nature of Britain, such as the rise in house prices in the late 80s. Much of the detail in my books are things I remember myself while I was growing up and this provides an interesting backdrop for the whole series.


What research do you do?
Research to me has become as important as the writing process. I enjoy visiting the locations of my novels, especially London; the thrill of riding on the underground to research a scene where a chase takes place - sitting in the Old Bailey watching a murder trial to depict a court case in my 3rd book. Putting yourself in the setting of a book can be hugely inspirational and aids the writing process. Other than that, the internet is really useful for checking my facts including the music and TV of the time and I have a good book for researching the current affairs relevant to each year (The Visual History of Britain.) Recently, I have done a fair bit of research just by talking to people - from a long serving police officer to a retired army Colonel.


What's your favourite book?
It has to be ‘Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follet. His books are mostly thrillers, with a bit of romance thrown in but they are essentially about people. Although ‘Pillars of the Earth’ is a historic story set in medieval times, it depicts the best and worst of human nature. I like to think my own books do the same.


What's your favourite food?
I enjoy a good barbecue, especially grilled fish and salad. My most sinful favourite food is Pizza but I just love it, preferably oozing with lots of cheese.


What's your favourite music?
This may come as a surprise but I have always loved British dance music from 70s disco to 90s rave. In 2011 when I started writing ‘Beginnings,’ I discovered Drum and Bass and bought an album by ‘Chase and Status.’ It had a really dark, gangland feel about it! I also love the British group ‘Nero’ whose latest album is intensely emotional and has inspired lots of passion for Book 4, ‘Retribution’ which is due out next year.


How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
I have my own website http://www.samefacedifferentplace.com/ which has links to all my social networks.


Networking Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.helenchristmas/


Here’s the blurb to my debut novel, ‘Beginnings.’
A dark tale set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London; two young people who fall foul of a political conspiracy to end the life of a British MP. Dutch rock musician, Jake, is the only person who witnessed a suspicious scene, prior to a deadly car bomb explosion... now those responsible are plotting to have him killed. It is only when he is found in an underground cell and rescued by 16 year old Eleanor, he escapes to live another day. This is an intense and moving love story and the first book of a British mystery thriller series, ‘Same Face Different Place.’


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