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Getting back to work

It is a long time since I last posted on here. Big apologies to anyone who has looked for posts, but I haven’t been writing for a couple of years and I just haven’t got round to it!! Lazy, I know, but somehow other things have filled the gap. I have read more, watched more films, done more crosswords, cooked more (including some fantastic world street food recipes!), and Marc and I have been learning Portuguese, (480 consecutive days on Duolingo and I can now say, with confidence, that there is a large shark residing under the table!)

Also the pandemic made us realize what a privilege it is to live in this corner of beautiful Pembrokeshire. We have relished our land (we have planted 100 baby trees to add to the 400 we planted 8 years ago,) we have turned our garden into a wildlife haven, (this year we have newts and toad spawn in our old bath tub pond), and we have watched Hera, our Greek rescue dog become jollier and jollier as she runs around our fields.

So now things are slowly returning to normal, whatever that is. Or are they? Just as we feel the Covid threat has lifted, we have major new problems confronting us. The idiotic Brexit decision continues to cause difficulties here in the UK, businesses are struggling, the issues over Northern Ireland’s status rumble dangerously on, a rapidly rising cost of living is making actual living very hard for many. Even holiday makers are facing problems, flights being cancelled, huge queues at airports and ferry terminals due to lack of staff, and extra security checks (all due to Brexit). Our government is in disarray, led by someone clearly unfit for office. We can no longer move or trade freely with our closest neighbors. And all this, just when Europe is needing to pull together to stand up to Vladimir Putin.

Suddenly, horribly, it doesn’t feel a million miles away from 1930’s Europe when Adolf Hitler was beginning his murderous rampage. The death and destruction, the refugees, the privations, the hard decisions, the political vacillation, the ominous threat of escalation. This has inevitably led me to think about my Lavender Road books, and about all the fascinating research I did then. There are so many parallels, and so many stories I didn’t use at that time.

So, I am beginning to think about writing another series. I have already done some outlining and some extra research, and I think I might have found some interesting characters and themes to pursue!

I can’t promise that it will be soon though as I plan to do the bulk of the writing next winter when we will probably be back in hibernation! But maybe, just maybe, there will be something else for you to read next year!!

Happy New Year

What a year the world has had! For Marc and me here in Wales is has been perfectly bearable because we are lucky enough to live in a beautiful place, with our own land around us and plenty of walks from the door. Our local shops have all risen to the occasion by delivering food, and so we have hardly had to leave our own terrain. In an odd way we have almost enjoyed the enforced idleness and peace and quiet. without the usual run of visitors, But although on the surface we have been ok, for us as for so many, underneath there has been sadness and anxiety and a horrible grief as various friends and family members have passed away during the year, some from Covid and some from other causes.

I don’t quite know why but the whole situation, the total mismanagement of Covid by the UK government, my distress about the prospect of leaving the EU and the awful xenophobia that Brexit has brought to the surface in this country, has sapped my creativity and although I do have a nice idea for a new wartime series, I just haven’t so far felt like putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!)

But now here we are at the end of the year, with 2021 just over the horizon. I wonder what it will bring. For now the situation in the UK is dire, the infections rate has got out of control, the deaths are rocketing again, the vast majority of people (including us) are locked down, and although the vaccines are becoming available it is going to take a lot of time for them to be rolled out successfully. But at least there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the lovely things that has happened for me this year is that I have received more than usual numbers of messages from readers saying that they have found reassurance and comfort from my books, that even in the darkest times people can find the strength and resilience to persevere and overcome.

Perhaps in 2021 the world will settle down again, the US elections have already brought some sanity, and there has been an upsurge of kindness in local communities worldwide. As was shown during the Second World War the situation has brought out the best in many people (although sadly not all!), and once again perhaps, if the good forces can prevail over the bad, we might be on the way towards building a kinder, more tolerant society. That at least would be my fervent hope. That is certainly what Winston Churchill hoped when he laid the foundations for a united Europe.

In the meantime I thank you all for your continued support, and wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Stay safe ….

Helen x


As so many remembrances are lacking this year due to the continuing virus restrictions, I thought it would be nice to share this poem written by my lovely husband, Marc Mordey.


In 1999 I made a trip to Alaska, spending time there with my mum, June, and our great friend Peter Bibb, sadly gone now, but who was a veteran of the D Day landings.

This poem was written for the 70th anniversary.

Today, in 2020, those remaining veterans are unable to gather as they normally would. This is for them, the living and the dead, and for those they loved and who loved them back.


70 years before…….

Young men stumbling into the shell bound surf

Silver flying fish


The boys, wading on and in

Falling, camouflagedno more

Booming, battling forth

Whistling bullets, the siren song of war

Deafening the ocean’s unerring roar.

Years ago

in Juneau

I watched ‘Saving Private Ryan’

With Pete Bibb

Self appointed ‘old timer’

Who left the movie house

“Cannot watch this, have to go”

he muttered

As the faux machine guns


View original post 145 more words

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






Happy Christmas


Happy Christmas from one happy dog!

First of all a big apology to my blog followers and friends for the dearth of posts this year. Since I finished writing Victory Girls, the last novel in my wartime Lavender Road series, and since our little dog Maisie died in September 2018, we have been mostly away, travelling the world!

We have had an amazing year of adventures, culminating in a road trip to the island of Kythira in Greece (where Marc and I met 19 years ago!) to bring back a very sad dog we had found there in the summer. She was chained up in the middle of nowhere, all on her own, very dirty and uncared-for, and seemed so pathetically pleased to see us that we felt we had to do something about her.

It’s a long story, and took a lot of organizing, but our lovely Greek friends on the island helped enormously by arranging for us to have her, keeping her in an outbuilding, and taking her to the vet for inoculations so she could have a passport ready for her trip back to the UK once the weather was cooler. They named her Hera, and we have decided to stick with that. So in September, as soon as we had got back from a 3000 mile trip round North west USA and Canada (wonderful!), Marc and I loaded the car with every piece of dog paraphernalia we could think of (Hera wasn’t house trained and we had no idea how she would cope with the journey) and set off to fetch her.


Hera as we first saw her in July

The trip lasted a month and turned out to be just over 5000 miles long. By now we had discovered that Hera had originally been owned by a bird hunter who had beaten her for being frightened of the guns. By the time we found her she had been on that chain for 10 years.

To our amazement, right from the start she loved the car, she behaved impeccably in the hotels we stayed in on the way home, and enjoyed the various walks we managed in a range of locations (mainly trying to avoid the attentions of local street dogs!) She is now settling well to life in Wales and we are delighted with her!

Wishing you all a very peaceful Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year!

Helen x






D DayAs the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches, I thought I would post a small section of my novel THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET which takes place on the morning of 6 June 1944.


At five o’clock on the morning of the 6th of June, Louise jerked awake to the sound of planes overhead.

At first she thought it must be an air raid and she was going to have to decamp to the cellar, but there were no sirens blaring, and in any case, German bombers invariably came in from the east or south-east. These planes sounded as though they were travelling in the opposite direction.

And then she heard her mother’s footstep outside her door.

‘Louise, are you awake?’

Louise got out of bed and opened the door. ‘What is it?’ she said. ‘What’s happening?’

‘I think it’s started,’ her mother said. She sounded breathless. Turning off the landing light, she went straight to the window and opened the blackout curtains. ‘Yes,’ she whispered in awe. ‘Look.’

Louise joined her at the window. It was still dark, but for the first time in nearly a week, the sky was clear, and as her eyes acclimatised, she saw a mass of shapes slowly moving overhead. West to east. Towards the coast. Towards France.

‘Oh my God,’ she said. She put a hand to her mouth. The planes were almost wingtip to wingtip, many towing gliders. They were all painted in black and white stripes, presumably to aid recognition among inexperienced Allied troops, and to prevent incidents of so-called friendly fire.

As she watched them in amazement, she couldn’t help thinking of the thousands of young men on board. And of the ones presumably even now heading out across the Channel, or perhaps already struggling off landing craft on dark French beaches. Young men like Moses and Ben, and the Carter boys. What were they thinking now?

Suddenly it all seemed terribly real. The campaigns in North Africa and Italy had been so far away. This was here. This was now. And nobody knew how strong the German resistance would be, what carnage would ensue, how many lives would be cut short. Today. Tomorrow. However long it took.

She felt tears springing to her eyes and saw that her mother was similarly affected. Suddenly they were holding hands. Then somehow Louise was in her arms. As she clung to her mother, feeling the bony shape of her shoulder, smelling the perm in her hair, she realised it was probably the first time they had embraced since she was a child.

‘What do we do now?’ she whispered.

Celia drew in a long, shuddering breath. ‘I think the best thing we can do,’ she said, ‘is to go downstairs and make a cup of tea.’


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET is the 5th book in Helen Carey’s best selling Lavender Road series. For more information about Helen or her novels, please click the page links above or visit her website at www.helencareybooks.co.uk

Happy Christmas

xmas bullfinchI would like to wish a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all my friends, readers and blog followers.

2018 has been a good year for me on the writing front, with lots of acclaim for my wartime LAVENDER ROAD novels, and several of them hitting the best seller charts. All six books are now out as paperbacks, eBooks and audio books worldwide.

For those of you who have read the Lavender Road books there is still the option to have a go at SLICK DEALS, the adventure thriller I wrote a while back to amuse my husband, which is set in Monaco, France, London and lovely Pembrokeshire where we live. For the more romantic of you there is also THE ART OF LOVING, a light romance set in Germany, which launched my writing career so many years ago by getting me short-listed for the RNA new writer award!

Many of you will know that we spent 12 years or so caring for my mother who was suffering with Alzheimer’s, and then, as soon as she had died, for two elderly dogs. Sadly both of these have also now left us. Our house suddenly feels very empty so we have decided to do some of the travelling that we’ve been unable to do over recent years. To that end we are setting off in January for a two and a half month voyage to Australia, taking in the Azores, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Guatemala, French Polynesia (including the Marquesas Islands), Tonga and New Zealand on the way. I am afraid not very much writing is going to get done during that time, but I will be posting photos on my Twitter and Facebook pages and perhaps one of our adventures will give rise to a new novel in the future!

In the meantime I wish you all health and happiness for the New Year and I will be back in touch later on in 2019.

All best wishes, Helen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/helencareybooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helencareybooks

UK covers combined US titles together

AOL0-600       slick deals REVISE5.Biggerslick.deb

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St Helena and other news

Hello everyone,Picture from top of Carningli

Greetings from sunny Pembrokeshire! I just wanted to thank you all again for your interest in my books. Over the last few months I have received an overwhelming number of kind messages and comments. It really is wonderful to know that my Lavender Road characters have brought so much pleasure to so many people! Thank you also for the wonderful reviews. If there are any of the books which you haven’t yet reviewed, and if you have the time or inclination, then it would be great if you could pop a few words and star ratings onto my books on Amazon or Goodreads sites, or indeed any other book sites you might use. It all helps enormously. And if you fancy a writing holiday on the remote island of St Helena, then it would be lovely to see you there – see below!

And now, here is the latest news from HELEN CAREY BOOKS:

  • All the Lavender Road books are now out in paperback in the UK.
  • THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STREET and the four preceding novels in the Lavender Road series are now available in paperback in the USA. The sixth and final book, VICTORY GIRLS, will follow in December this year.
  • All the audio versions are available from AUDIBLE in the USA, and as CDs from Ulverscroft / ISIS Soundings publishing, and libraries in the UK.
  • I am delighted to have been invited to be one of the inaugural tutors for a creative writing week on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic next May. The course will be a week long and will be suitable both for new and more experienced writers alike. The other tutor will be Louis de Bernières, of Captain Corelli fame. This is an amazing opportunity for participants to focus on creative writing with two very different authors in a remote, idyllic setting. For further details see the flyer below.

All best wishes,

Helen Carey

st helena

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Four questions


Tregwynt Mansion

Tomorrow I will be joining three other authors for a Writers’ Forum at Tregwynt Mansion in Pembrokeshire. As well as talking about our books, part of the format is that we each answer pre-set questions, so I thought it might be a good idea for me to answer mine here on my blog as a kind of practice for the actual event. Apologies to anyone coming to the event, but I promise there will be lots of other chit-chat too!

Question One: How long does it take you to write a book?

My contract with my publishers, Headline (Hachette), gave me a year to write each of my Lavender Road novels. That included research and editing. And I have to say it was a push. I probably take three months to research and to create my characters and to work out the plot. I am a very careful plotter because I hate editing. I don’t see the point of writing thousands of words only to cross them out later. So I make sure my story and my story structure works before I start. Not every detail of course, but I make sure I know where I am going, what the ending will be. Actual writing time is perhaps six months, working 10am – 7pm every day.  And then I step away for a couple of weeks before going through the manuscript once or twice more for adjustments and tweaks, and to make sure it works as a story.

Question Two: How did you get published?

I was working as a management consultant, running courses in various British Universities. I was driving down the motorway one Friday after a particularly gruelling week and I said to myself ‘I’m sure there was something else I wanted to do with my life.’ I remembered that I had always had an ambition to be a novelist. Even as a child I had written pony stories, but somehow real life had got in the way. So I began writing – mostly rubbishy stuff , it takes time to learn how to create a page-turning novel – and after a while I was shortlisted for a new writers’ award. That led to my getting an agent. When we first met I had talked to her about an idea I had for a novel starting at the end of the Second World War, so when an editor at a big London publishers asked her if she knew anyone who might be interested on writing a series set in world war two she immediately thought of me. As it happened I knew very little about the war, but I was so excited about the idea of writing a series I did a massive amount of research in about five minutes and created a story outline which seemed to do the trick. The publisher commissioned me to write three books, and so the Lavender Road series was born.

Question Three: How important is the cover?

I think it is really important. And it is an issue which I am finding particularly interesting just at the moment. Book publishers are really into branding. And they love to jump on a lucrative bandwagon. It is much safer for them to add a book into an existing brand than to take the risk of starting a new brand, or genre as they would probably call it.

My UK publishers have taken the decision to put my books into the wartime romantic saga genre even though my books aren’t really like many of the other books in that genre. So, to fit the genre, they have produced covers with pretty young women’s faces on the front and a wartime scene in the background. Romantic sagas form a huge market in the UK, especially in supermarkets, and my publishers feel this is the best way of achieving the highest number of sales.

In the US we have taken a different approach. My American covers, with their wartime poster style, are designed to be perhaps more middle of the road, more historical fiction than romantic saga, and to appeal to a wider range of reader, including men.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course. There is also a big difference between the paperback market and the eBook market. Time will tell how the books all do longer term. But as it stands today, four of my novels are in the top 100 historical fiction chart on Amazon US. So the American covers are doing something right!

Question Four: Which books have inspired you? Who are your Favourite authors?

I am an eclectic reader. Over the last couple of months I have read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Leopard, the Italian classic, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child, a couple of spy thrillers, a Mary Stewart novel, and Eligible, the Pride and Prejudice pastiche, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I love beautiful or clever language, and compelling characters, but the books that most inspire me are books I can’t put down. My interest in story structure draws me to writers who can keep me hooked from beginning to end. I also love it when readers contact me complaining that my books have kept them awake all night.


The Writers Forum will take place in Tregwynt Mansion, nr Fishguard, Pembrokeshire at 7.30 on Thursday 26 July.

Helen Carey’s latest novel is Victory Girls, the 6th novel in the Lavender Road series. It is out now out worldwide as a Kindle eBook. The paperback will follow in October.

The final moment has come

victory girls show card + me in france

UK edition

And so the final moment has come! VICTORY GIRLS, the sixth and final book in my Lavender Road series, is published today. In hardback in the UK and as eBooks in the UK and USA. The Audio versions will follow very soon, and the paperbacks later in the year.

I can hardly believe that after writing over a million words, I have finally brought the series to an end. And although everyone is asking for more, I really do think a million words is enough! The series starts in 1939 just as the Second World War began, and it finishes in 1945 on VE Day just as Victory in Europe is declared. I like the symmetry of it, six books over six years. And I very much hope all my readers will feel that I have brought the story to a satisfactory end. I will of course miss my long suffering characters, Jen, Joyce, Helen, Molly, Louise, Katy and Mr Lorenz (not to mention the ever gorgeous Ward Frazer, Henry Keller and André Cabillard!) but they will be there in print, and on our Kindles, for perpetuity, available for revisiting and rereading at any point.

me and us victory girls

US edition

So all I am going to say now is that I very much hope you enjoy VICTORY GIRLS, and hope that if you do you will post reviews and star ratings on Amazon and other social media or historical fiction groups. And, if you have time, for the earlier books in the series too! It really does help, and might even persuade me to write the next book!!!


VICTORY GIRLS is published by Headline in the UK and TSAP Books in the USA on 19th April 2018. (Click here to find it in your local Amazon store.)

It’s August 1944. Allied forces are finally making headway in Europe. But continuing rocket attacks on London are a chilling reminder that the war is not yet won. Victory may be just round the corner, but the fighting is far from over for the residents of Lavender Road.

 Sweeping from London to France and on into Germany as Hitler’s army begins to retreat, Victory Girls is full of emotion, excitement and suspense, which will hold readers on the edge of their seats.

  Praise for the Lavender Road novels:

 ‘A tale of ordinary people living extraordinary lives.’ Inside Soap

 ‘Told with real excitement and a passion for the foibles of character and behaviour.’ Andrew Rissik

‘I never got so involved in the lives of book characters as in this series of books.’ Amazon review

 ‘Helen Carey’s Lavender Road novels are written with a lightness of touch, an emotional integrity and an historical accuracy which has brought her respect from critics and readers alike.’  Louis de Bernières

 ‘Funny, poignant, emotional and un-putdownable!’ London Evening Standard

 ‘An incredible tale of bravery, love and trust. A must read.’ whisperingstories.com

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