Interview with Helena Halme, author of An Island Christmas
17 Dec 2019
What can you tell us about your new release, An Island Christmas?
An Island Christmas is a story of three women who find their way to a brighter future. Set on a stark but beautiful snowy Scandinavian island, it’s an emotional and tender book filled with drama, love and loss. Second in the Love on the Island series, An Island Christmas is a standalone festive read and perfect for the holiday season.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I love Christmas books and am currently reading The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy. I’ve spent many summer holidays in the French countryside and am enjoying the descriptions of winter in a remote village there. Amongst the Christmas cheer, the novel also deals with themes of love, loss and hope that I often write about in my own books.
Next on my list of books to read is 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafik. This author is hugely interesting to me because, like me, she’s bilingual and writes in English even though her mother tongue is Turkish.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
‘Listen to your dreams and write.’ When I was at school, my teachers told me I was a good writer, but I didn’t listen to them and went to Business School instead. I did sort of follow my dream when I came to the UK and began working at the BBC as a translator and journalist but got waylaid again after my children were born. I was in my early forties before I began taking writing seriously and enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing. Since then, I’ve written ten novels and two non-fiction titles, so I’m making up for lost time now!
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
Not wishing to be predictable, but–you’ve guessed it–I’d write! It’s amazing that even now, as a full-time writer, I still struggle to find enough time to write. It’s partly my own fault since I have a second interest in helping other authors self-publish their books. I’m also active in the indie writing community and act as the Nordic Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. I love passing on things that I’ve learned about the publishing industry, and it’s wonderful to keep in touch with other writers.
What makes your world go round? Why does it bring you joy?
I love my family above everything. My husband has always been hugely supportive in my writing career, as have my two (now grown-up) children. I also have a sister who lives in Northern Sweden and who I can rely on for moral support and a good laugh on a regular basis. In addition, I have a bunch of good friends both here in the UK and in Finland whom I couldn’t do without. Last, but by no means least, my tonic is my two-year-old granddaughter. She’s the light of my life.
What scene in An Island Christmas was your favorite to write?
Goodness, this is a difficult question! I had to really think about my favourite scene and while deciding, nearly re-read the whole book. Finally, I settled on the love scene between Brit and Jukka. As strange as it may seem, characters don’t always do as they are told, and these two took a lot longer than I had planned to reach the right level of intimacy. A close second has to be the Christmas Eve dinner where all the characters come together and sparks fly in more ways than one. I don’t want to reveal the plot, but I absolutely loved setting the magical snow-covered, and freezing, landscape outside against the heated atmosphere inside the house. I shan’t say any more–you’ll just have to read the book!
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