Welcome to the blog, Helen and many congratulations on the publication of your first novel.
The Friendship Tree is a delightful title. Can you tell us how you came to choose the title and what came first, the title or the book?
The idea came first. I initially wanted to write a book set in a small town and I wanted a way for the town to come together in times of need, and so the idea for a friendship tree was born. Thank you so much for saying that it’s a delightful title.
Would you like a friendship tree in your own life?
I’d love to live somewhere like Brewer Creek, the fictitious town in my novel, and at the moment as we have recently moved back to the UK, a friendship tree would be fantastic! I think I’d even volunteer, like my character, Tamara, and be the coordinator. It’s a wonderful way to bring people together socially and in times of trouble.
Some writers carry an idea with them for a long time before putting words to paper. How was the process for you and did it take long to write?
I don’t remember having the idea for that long. I think once I thought of it, I couldn’t wait to get going and write the story. I was in a good position to do so, because my first novel was very much a learning experience. I put that novel completely aside and somehow I knew that I’d never go back to it, and with everything I’d learnt I had time to focus my efforts on The Friendship Tree.
It took me a couple of months to do the first draft, but the editing process took much longer. I put this novel through the NWS twice and had many rejections along the way, but I used my time to rework the book so it ended up a much better version of what it was initially.
You are a member of the well-known writing group, The Write Romantics. How important do you feel it is for a writer to belong to such a group?
I honestly think that my journey to publication would’ve been so much harder without my writing group. We met, via the RNA, and for a while only knew each other online. Most of us met at the conference in Shropshire in 2014 and it was amazing to meet all these women who have supported each other in the low times and toasted one another’s successes, not only with writing but with anything else going on in our lives too.
There are ten members of The Write Romantics and we have a closed group on Facebook which acts as our virtual office. Most of us are in the ‘office’ seven days a week, if only to say a quick hello, and having that support there is the most amazing thing a writer can have. I’d recommend it to everyone.
What do you have planned to celebrate the publication of your book?
When I signed my contract initially, it was champagne and oysters on Sydney Harbour. On publication day, Tuesday 24th February, I’ll be opening champagne and making some very special cupcakes. I’ll enjoy celebrations with my family who have never let me give up on the dream of being published, there’ll be celebrations at my online launch party and of course online with The Write Romantics, and next weekend I’m getting together with extended family for more celebrations, more cake and more champagne.
So what is next for Helen J Rolfe, author?
I have another novel which is almost ready to go for submissions, then another after that which I’ll be passing onto my beta readers in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping that both of these can be out during 2015 or at least, early 2016. I’ll keep you posted!
I already have my next idea in my head and in various notes on my phone and computer, and I’m itching to start that one but I’ll focus on the launch of The Friendship Tree and finalising my other two for the next few weeks … until I can’t resist any longer!
Helen J Rolfe worked as a computer programmer until her passion for writing refused to be ignored any longer. She studied journalism, left the I.T. industry and embarked on a career as a freelance journalist. In 2011 the fiction bug bit and Helen has been writing fiction ever since.
In the year 2000 Helen answered her call to adventure and bought a one-way ticket from the UK to Australia, but after fourteen years of calling Australia home, Helen decided to return to the UK with her husband and two children. She now lives in Bath.
Thank you, Helen, good luck with The Friendship Tree and enjoy your celebrations.
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