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Stay safe

Hello everyone and greetings from sunny Pembrokeshire.couch

How quickly things change! Since I last posted on this site, the whole world has changed.

I am not going to draw comparisons with the war, although it is tempting to do so, but I am going to say how interesting it is to see how different people react to the crisis. I have often said in these posts that one of the things novelists often try to do is to force their characters into difficult circumstances, because then you can see their true nature emerge.

Well, we are certainly in difficult circumstances now! And we are watching our medics, nurses, carers, shop assistants, police, and many others rise valiantly to the occasion, risking their lives to help others. For the rest of us, the only way we can help is by staying at home. It seems so little to ask, but it is amazing (or is it?) how many people seem reluctant to do it, feeling that they, for some reason, are exempt. Others are vociferous in their determination to rail against the incarceration.

Yes, it is hard, and clearly, depending on circumstances, harder for some than others. To take an example from my Lavender Road series, it would have been unbearable for Joyce Carter to have been locked down with her abusive husband, Stanley, for a few days, let alone weeks on end. (But she definitely would have done it if it had helped defeat Hitler!)

For most of us, a bit of enforced idleness is bearable. I am sure we can do it. We have to do it, if this hideous virus is to be defeated.

So all I can do is wish you well, and hope that you can stay happy and safe for the duration.

And if anyone wants to ask me questions about my books, writing, reading, or indeed about anything else, or if you just need a friend to communicate with, or someone to boost your morale, to then do get in touch, I am not going anywhere, and it would be a pleasure to help.

Helen xx






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8 thoughts on “Stay safe

  1. Yvonne Carter on said:

    Hi Helen, On re-reading your ‘new post’, thought I would take you at your word and ask you something about your books. When you were writing your Lavender Road series, for example, how did you plan WHEN during the day you would sit down and write? Did you do any house-work, cooking – whatever, first, then do x-hours writing? Or did you start off the day writing and fit other ‘house’ things around it? Just interested on how author’s get their books from page one to the end. Hope you are coping OK with the lock-down and keep safe. Yvonne. x

    • Hello Yvonne, thank for the question! I am lucky to have a very helpful husband {!), and he took on much of the household tasks while I was writing the Lavender Road books so I could concentrate on writing! I also had my mother to look after. She was suffering with Alzheimers and dealing with that at the same time as writing was quite a pressure. I had a contract with my publisher to write one book per year, which was not long enough. There was a lot of research to do and I needed mulling time and planning time, then of course there was the day to day writing, and then the editing. I suppose I generally sat down at my desk about 10.30 after tidying up a bit, walking the dogs and replying to emails, messages etc. I would start by going over what I had written the day before, then would start on the next section. I’d break for lunch, and sometimes for a quick walk in the afternoon, and to sort out things for my mother and her carers, but would then then crack on until about 7pm when we had supper. I wrote maybe 1500 words a day, sometimes a bit more, sometimes less. I plan very carefully and edit as I go, because I hate having to do major rewrites. A lot of writers are happy to do multiple drafts but I find it easier to make sure I am getting my story ‘right’ as I go along. I think quite a bit of the sparkle is lost if things have to be changed later, especially with a book like mine with multiple characters and plots lines that have to be carefully organised so the right thing happens at the right time.

      It was a huge project, with extra pressures around my mother (sadly she died just as I was starting London Calling) and it has been really nice to have a break from writing. Now that I have finished the books and we are trapped at home by the lockdown, I take a bigger share of the household tasks, (although I’m not sure my husband would agree!)
      i hope this answers your question? Keep safe, Helen

  2. Vicki Beckner on said:

    I love your books! I love your down-to-earth blog posts! You are like a good neighbor that I look forward to hearing from. How about a cup of tea & a chat?

  3. Genelle McDonald on said:

    Just finished the 6th Lavender Road book last night & what a ride it’s been. They are absolutely the best 6 books I’ve ever read. What a masterful piece of writing – I was completely intrigued & engrossed. I really enjoyed the individuality of all the characters & felt like they were my new best friends – I will miss them terribly. Thank you so much for such an unforgettable experience!!!!

  4. stephen504.nola@gmail.com on said:

    HI Helen,

    What a nice post during this difficult time. I just wanted to say that reading your books always brings me a lot of comfort. I love the characters and I normally can’t put the book down. Right now, I am readying the latest installment, Victory Girls, more slowly because I don’t want to leave them for a long time.

    Your writing is wonderful and it really makes one feel what people were going through during WWII.

    You stay safe and healthy and thank you for all the reading pleasure you have brought me.


    Stephen Scarbrough


    • Hi Stephen, thank you for the wonderful message. It is lovely to know that you have found comfort in the books. What more could a author ask? I hope you enjoy the rest of Victory Girls. Stay safe.

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