Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Helena Fairfax is visiting today!

Today I am delighted to welcome Helena Fairfax whose debut novel, The Silk Romance, was released on Friday 24th May by MuseitUp Publishing, which happens to be my publishing house too. What is exciting for me is that Helena set her novel in Lyon, the town I grew up in! Her novel is wonderful and I absolutely love the cover!

Bonjour Helena, and congratulations on the release of your novel. 

Bonjour Marie, and thank you so much for having me on your blog!  When I found out that a fellow Muse author was actually from the city of Lyon, I was thrilled.  It has long been one of my favourite cities, and forms the wonderful setting for my first novel, The Silk Romance.

I am very intrigued...Why did you choose Lyon for the setting of The Silk Romance?

You must be curious to know how someone from a small town in the north of England came to have this love for your city.  Well, when I was a student – many years ago now! – I spent a few months in Lyon working as an au pair.  (And by the way, I wish I had known you then, Marie.  It would have been lovely to visit you in your home town J )
As an au pair I lived with my family in the most romantic location, right on the banks of the river Saône, overlooking Lyon’s old town.  Right beneath my window was a large, colourful market, full of beautiful fruits, and bustling with sounds and smells. 

You can imagine the contrast for a young girl, coming from a bleak, grey town in England, to this wonderful, bright, sun-filled and vibrant city.   Everywhere there are cafés and people spilling out into the streets, and for a young girl, the night-life was wonderful.  The evenings were warm and it was possible to sit outside the bars and restaurants and relax with friends, in a way which is rarely possible in my chilly part of the world.
So you can understand that when it came to writing my first novel, I wanted this beautiful city to be the setting.  I also had another interest in Lyon.  Some time after I left university, I started work at a woollen mill in Yorkshire.  My home county of Yorkshire is famous for its woollen weaving industry, in the same way that Lyon is famous for its silk-weaving.

In fact, silk-weaving is literally built into the fabric of Lyon.  All through the city you will find little covered stone alleyways, called traboules.  These shadowy alleyways were used by the silk-workers, so that their rolls of cloth were protected from the rain.  You can walk through many of the traboules today, and they are a fascinating reminder of Lyon’s past.

I decided to set my novel in a silk-weaving mill – a mill which is owned by the gorgeous hero of my novel, Jean-Luc Olivier.  If you’d like to know more about silk-weaving in Lyon, I have written a post on the subject here on my blog: http://helenafairfax.com/2012/12/04/silk-weaving-in-the-historic-city-of-lyon/.

And if you’d like to find out more about Jean-Luc, and my charming heroine Sophie, here is the blurb to The Silk Romance:

Jean-Luc Olivier is a courageous racing driver with the world before him.  Sophie Challoner is a penniless student, whose face is unknown beyond her own rundown estate in London.  The night they spend together in Paris seems to Sophie like a fairytale—a Cinderella story without the happy ending. She knows she has no part in Jean-Luc’s future.  She made her dying mother a promise to take care of her father and brother in London.   One night of happiness is all Sophie allows herself. She runs away from Jean-Luc and returns to England to keep her promise.

Safely back home with her father and brother, and immersed in her college work, Sophie tries her best to forget their encounter, but she reckons without Jean-Luc.  He is determined to find out why she left him, and intrigued to discover the real Sophie.  He engineers a student placement Sophie can’t refuse, and so, unwillingly, she finds herself back in France, working for Jean-Luc in the silk mill he now owns.

Thrown together for a few short weeks in Lyon, the romantic city of silk, their mutual love begins to grow.  But it seems the fates are conspiring against Sophie’s happiness.  Jean-Luc has secrets of his own.  Then, when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choicestay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.
If you’ve enjoyed my taster of Lyon, please come and visit me some time on my blog www.helenafairfax.com, on my Facebook page, on Goodreads, or you can find me on Twitter @helenafairfax  I always love to meet new people J

The Silk Romance is available from the Muse bookstore, or from Amazon and most major e-tailers.

Merci beaucoup, Marie!  Thanks very much for inviting me to your blog.  It’s been great to meet you here, amongst so many reminders of my happy time in your home town.

À bientôt!
Thank you for being a guest today Helena and 'bonne chance' with The Silk Romance. I really enjoyed your novel and I must say that I fell in love with Jean-Luc...


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Marie. It was great to talk to une vraie Lyonnaise about my love for Lyon! Merci, et au revoir!

  2. Thanks for dropping in, Rose. Good to meet you here!

  3. It is a pleasure, Helena, and thank you very much Rose for visiting!

  4. Wonderful interview Ladies! I love the pictures of Lyon, especially the traboules. I have never been to Lyon, but we did visit Paris on our honeymoon and I loved it. You are both such talented authors, I have loved reading your creations.


  5. Thanks for coming, Nancy! If you ever get the chance again, I'd definitely recommend a trip to Lyon. It's a beautiful city. (And lovely people! :) )

  6. Oh Helena, you make me want to go there and sit in one of the sidewalk cafes. It sounds like a beautiful city. You live in a cold gray region, I live in near a fairly gray city myself.

    I am going to read your book, it sounds like a lovely romance and I hope I get to do some sightseeing while I'm immersed in your story.

    Thanks for the lovely pictures, too.

  7. Thanks so much for coming, Lorrie. Marie has helped out with the photos, and they really paint a good picture. It's such a warm and lively city. If only we could all go over just for a couple of days, and have Marie show us around. That would be brilliant

  8. Un jour peut-être, Helena! Maybe one day. Thank you so much Nancy for visiting and for your kind comment. How lovely that you went to Paris for your honeymoon. It's funny, I was teaching a French lesson to primary school children today and asking them what they knew about France, and this little girl who mustn't have been more than eight, said that Paris was the city of love! I wonder where she heard that one!

  9. Thank you for visiting Lorrie. I am sure you will enjoy the novel, and the hero Jean-Luc. I know I did!