Dec 14, 2015

Australia Days: Interview with Helen J Rolfe & Giveaway!

About Helen J Rolfe

My English teacher at school told me to never give up on my dream of becoming a writer. Somehow I ended up with a business degree and a job as a computer programmer, but I never forgot her wise words and encouragement. 

In August 2000 I answered my call to adventure and headed to Australia where I ended up living for fourteen years. I made my home in Melbourne for just over nine of those years and in 2003 I left the I.T. industry and began my writing career as a freelancer.

After a relocation to Sydney and with more time on my hands once the kids started school, I continued freelancing for women's health and fitness magazines, I studied four units of a Masters in Writing and finally I realised that all I wanted to do was become an author.

Australia will always hold a special place in my heart but in 2014 the pull of family brought us back to the UK to live, and we have relocated to Hertfordshire.

Aside from writing and reading, my passions include yoga and Pilates, chocolate and a good measure of Baileys on ice :-)


1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I'm a mum of two, living with my husband and children in Hertfordshire. I've been writing fiction seriously since 2011 and now have three books published. It's my dream career for sure!

2) Suze: You've lived in Australia for a long time, but are now living in the UK again. Why have you chosen to set your stories in Australia?

My first three stories were already well and truly underway (two were almost finished) before we returned to the UK and my third novel, What Rosie Found Next, is set in the fictitious town of Magnolia Creek. It's the first in the Magnolia Creek Series so I'll still be setting my books in Australia for a little while yet.
I think when you've lived somewhere for such a long time (14 years) the way of life becomes ingrained in you and it's easier to write when you've had such close experience with the setting.
I'm thinking of writing a Christmas novel for 2016 however, and I think that'll be set in the UK. Really looking forward to writing it as it'll be something totally different for me.

3) Suze/Tanya What's your favourite place in Australia? Australia is a big place where would you tell a first time visitor that they should visit and why?

My favourite place / city is Melbourne. I love everything from the climate and the outdoor lifestyle, to the cosmopolitan feel and the friendly people. I really miss it, especially when I'm answering these sorts of questions. I lived in Sydney for 5 years but never fell in love with it the same way unfortunately.

There are so many places you should visit! Melbourne and Sydney are top of my list...both fabulous, yet different cities. Melbourne is gorgeous with its little laneways, the culture, the easiness of the city for finding your way around. Sydney has the stunning harbour, amazing beaches. I'd recommend going up to Palm Beach for's the setting for Home and Away and it's lovely. Some days I'd treat myself and drive up there as it was only half an hour from our house, and I'd take a book and sit on the grass by Snapperman Beach. Okay, now I'm missing Australia heaps!!

The Great Barrier Reef is another must. I snorkelled, went up in a helicopter to see the heart-shaped reef, went to Hamilton Island and South Molle. Amazing stuff. 

4) Tanya: You seem very knowledgeable about bush fires is it something you have to deal with regularly? Or something that you have unfortunately have experience off?

Bushfires are a way of life in Australia. We always lived in the suburbs but not in the country so it wasn't a massive concern for us. I have friends and a brother who live out in the country however, so for them they have to be extra careful. I interviewed Elissa Jans for my research for What Rosie Found Next and she works as a volunteer with the CFA (Country Fire Authority). They do an amazing job every year and the fact that it's voluntary is outstanding, showing how Aussies pull together so well.

5) Suze: Your main characters have been through a lot, where do you find inspiration to tell their life stories?

I like to create characters who are real and have challenges that any one of us may face, whether it's a health scare (Handle Me with Care), family problems (What Rosie Found Next), or running away from a past (The Friendship Tree). I get my inspiration from all around me, what I read in the newspaper, see on the television, my own life experiences.

6) Tanya/Suze Your female main character in What Rosie Found Next, is very strong and determined do you think that is a quality that you have? What do you like most about her?

I'm not sure I'm quite as strong as Rosie, but I'm proud of the way she turned out when I created her. She's had her challenges and tries to do the right thing and Rosie isn't afraid to stand up for herself either. And she always sees the best in people too which I really like. I think sometimes people can come across in a different way when they have something going on in their life, but Rosie sees the good in people. 

7) Tanya: Is there a particular place in Australia that you would like to visit again and who with?

Of course...I'd love to go to Melbourne again with my family as we have lots of friends there. One day we will but not for a while yet. It's a long way!

8) Tanya/Suze What are your plans this Christmas? As Christmas is part of your novel, could you tell your experience of Christmas in Australia versus Christmas in the UK?

This Christmas it'll be the first in our new house so we're very excited! Our neighbour has invited us for drinks in the morning so while the turkey is cooking I'll have a glass of Prosecco i'm sure :-) We will have lunch at home and then we all love the Christmas movies so we'll be watching a few of them. 
Christmas in Australia was never too different for us, apart from the weather. We still had the big dinner even if it meant putting the air conditioning on!

9) Tanya/Suze You always describe food really well in your novels, where does your inspiration for it come from? As we are on the run up to Christmas could you describe what you will be eating?

Wow, I never realised I described food so well! It must be all those lovely Aussie restaurants I went to during my time there. I lived a five minute walk from Southbank and they have the most amazing seafood there. 

We will be having turkey of course, with pigs in blankets, gravy, a selection of vegetables. Usually we're all too full for dessert straight away but I'll get some mini Christmas puddings for later in the afternoon. I'm really hoping it doesn't rain so we can all get outside for a walk and work off some of the Christmas dinner!

10) Suze: What are your 3 favourite Australian writers or books?

I love Lianne Moriarty, Dianne Blacklock and Monica McInerney. I started reading Monica McInerney's books a few years ago and I loved the settings...really vivid. Lianne Moriarty has written two incredible books: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies so I'm a lifelong fan!

11) What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on book 4 - first run through since completing the first draft so I'm hoping that'll be out in 2016 some time. It'll be a standalone book but book 2 in the Magnolia Creek Series so will have some of the same characters who appeared in What Rosie Found Next. It has been a lot of fun to write and I fell in love with Magnolia Creek.


One very lucky reader of my blog will receive kindle copies of The Friendship Tree, Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.


  1. It's always nice to know a new romance author. Those covers are super impressive!

  2. I love the covers! & these sound totally up my alley. Don't know many Australia authors, but my fave of them is Juliet Maddison. However, always happy to discover more aussie authors. Fab interview, Suus x x

  3. I feel a bit guilty because I've not heard of this author. Although quite intrigued by the covers alone (would make me pick it up and read the back). :) My favourite actor is Australian so perhaps a new favourite author might be as well. :) xx

  4. Always great to learn about new authors!

  5. It was a good interview. Always find something new about an author.

  6. sounds like a busy 2016 for the author

  7. Australia is a long way from everywhere, but we are worth the visit.

  8. this is an interesting interview, definitely look forward to reading the books xx

  9. Nice interview and I am glad you listened to your English teacher and kept your dream and made it a reality.

  10. Fatimah Mardhiah OmarDecember 24, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    It's a bit sad that I never knew her but then books sound appealing I'm sure I will fall in love with them. I love how the teacher aspired you because I felt the same. My teachers aspired me to become a teacher, now I am working on my dream to become an English teacher so that I can aspire the others as well.

  11. good to know background stuff

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