What was your first job? Did you like or dislike it? Why?
I got a Saturday job in a cheap clothes shop when I was 16. It paid £6 for an 8-hour day, but the bus cost me over £2 to get into town and back. When my pay went up to £8, I was over the moon! I found it boring standing around when the shop wasn't busy, so I would spend a lot of time tidying all the shelves and stands for something to do.
Do you have a pet peeve? If so what is it?
Discourtesy. I absolutely can't stand it. People can be so impolite with each other nowadays. Please, Thank you, Excuse me and Would you mind …? seem to be disappearing from the English language. Few strangers return your smile as you pass in the street or thank you if you hold a door open for them. I find it unbelievably depressing.
Would you describe your style as shabby chic, timeless elegance, eclectic, country or ____?
Well, I certainly wouldn't say timeless elegance! Eclectic would be nearest. There's a bit of old hippie in me, still, and I like to find something different or unusual - although nowadays it does have to be practical and comfortable, too. The joys of middle age …
Tell me about your book Holding Back and where you got your inspiration for it?
Holding Back is a summer romance set in northern Portugal, and it was definitely the place itself that inspired the book. I visited there a couple of times, and it was so beautiful that it stayed with me over the years, until my imagination came up with the characters and story to go with it!
As for the characters, I wanted them to be quite different from my first romance, Warm Hearts in Winter. In that story, the hero and heroine rather liked each other from the outset, so it was mainly a question of getting them past their personal demons to consider a future together. But in Holding Back, Daniel and Laura don't get on at all at first despite a mutual attraction, and they are both resistant to romance. Since my characters always tend to develop a mind of their own as I write, getting them together was quite a challenge!
Who is your role model? Why?
The cat! I wish I could relax the way she does.
No, seriously, I've just spent five minutes thinking about it and can't pick one out. There are a lot of people I admire who have characteristics I would like to emulate, but I've reached an age where I'm beginning to realise that I am what I am. I can try to boost my strengths and damp down my weaknesses, but at the end of the day, I can't and don't want to be like anyone else.
How much of your book is realistic?
The area of Portugal where the story takes place is certainly realistic – I have been there, and even though it was a while ago, I'd written a rough draft and some notes soon after I came back from my visits … although I did do a little internet research in case anything had changed dramatically!
Otherwise, the story is completely from my imagination, although I hope it's realistic. I always invest a great deal of time and thought in my characters, so that the way their relationship develops stems from their motivations, their actions and reactions, in a believable way.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have few illusions – there are a lot of books out there, both good and bad, for readers to sift through - but I would like to keep on writing good quality stories that give people much-needed escape from their hectic lives and find an audience that enjoys my 'voice'.
Share one fact about yourself that would surprise people.
Alongside my creative streak, my other forte is pernickety admin. I can happily lose §myself in data and spreadsheets for hours!
Holding Back by Helen Pollard
The last thing they're looking for is love …
Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends' hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.
Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn't have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.
As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?
Barnes & Noble:
About the Author:
Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?
A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she's not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.
Find Helen at:
Website & Blog: http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
Excerpt from Chapter One:
"Excuse me. You've picked up the wrong bag."
Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.
"No, I don't think so." She swung round to confront the voice's owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.
With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.
Laura ignored it. "I can manage, thank you," she snapped, thinking she wouldn't have tripped if he hadn't surprised her like that.
He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. "As I said, you have my bag."
Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.
"No, this is definitely mine." She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!
"Would you mind if I check?"
"Help yourself." Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, "But I am in a hurry." She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn't have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.
"Would you care to look?" he asked.
Laura's foot stopped tapping. Recognising undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.
"But it's the same as mine!" she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.
"It's hardly a unique design," he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. "If you weren't in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel."
Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologise.
But he spoke first. "Personally, I would advocate that old saying 'More haste, less speed.'" His tone softened a little as he added, "I'm sorry, but you're not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know." And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.