Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Genesis of a Book - The Silk Romance by Helena Fairfax
Guest author Helena Fairfax shares the creative spark that inspired her novel: The Silk Romance.
When I was a student I spent an unforgettable few months working as an au pair in Lyon, France. It was one of the happiest and most romantic times of my life. How different this hot and vibrant city was to the bleak English town I came from. Everything seemed to me intensely colourful: the two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, gliding through the city; the market stalls with their exotic fruits; the cypress trees; the street cafés and the night-life. It was an intense experience, which stayed with me long after I left France.
When I came to write my first novel, The Silk Romance, I knew Lyon had to be the setting. And it was easy to picture my French hero. As an au pair I lived with my family, in a centuries old stone building overlooking the old town. In the apartment above mine, on the top floor, lived the most gorgeous man ever. Tall, tanned, with piercing blue eyes, a devastating smile and a confident way of talking to me whenever we bumped into each other on the shadowy stone stairs. Sadly, my handsome crush was already engaged to be married, and so my teenage longing remained from afar! Years later I brought my romantic Frenchman to life in the form of Jean-Luc, the hero of The Silk Romance.
As for the glamorous silk industry, which also plays a large part in my story, many years after I left France I took a job in a woollen mill in northern England. The weaving industry once played a major role in both my home town and Lyon, but is now sadly a dying trade. I thought it would be wonderful to revive Lyon’s once thriving silk industry, and so I made my hero the owner of one of the city’s few remaining silk mills, producing fabulous textiles for opera houses, theatres and fashionable people around the world.
As for my heroine, Sophie is exactly the type of female character I like to write, and to read about. A young woman who is self-reliant, who has seen her share of tragedy in this life, who is compassionate, but not afraid of letting the hero know exactly what she thinks.
I wasn’t very confident when I released my first novel on the world, but reviews so far have been great, ranging from ‘charming romance, and utterly delightful’ to one I particularly loved, which read ‘a cross between Pride and Prejudice and Cinderella, which is awesome.’
I had a lot of fun recreating my romantic time in Lyon, and I was sorry to say au revoir to my characters when I put down my pen!
Sophie Challoner has made her mother a sacred promise, and not even Jean-Luc Olivier can prevent her keeping it. On the night Sophie’s French grandmother throws a glittering party for her in Paris, Jean-Luc sweeps her off her feet, momentarily making her forget the promise she has made. The night she spends with Jean-Luc seems to Sophie like a fairy tale – a glamorous story, without the happy ending. Like a modern-day Cinderella Sophie runs away in the morning, afraid of the hold the Frenchman has over her.
Safely back home with her father and brother in London, Sophie tries her best to forget the encounter, but fate and Jean-Luc have other plans. He organises 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 choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep the sacred promise she made her mother.