We’re introducing you to people who are part of the Betterwrite world. Welcome to HELENA FAIRFAX.        

Helena, what’s your connection with Betterwrite?

Thanks for the welcome! I joined Betterwrite in early 2019 as an Associate Editor.

Tell us about your work.

I’m a writer myself, so as well as editing for others I know what it’s like to have my own work edited. A great editor can transform a novel. I enjoy helping writers develop their stories and make them the best they can be.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I have a few novels I’m working on at the moment – one is a sci-fi set in a dystopian future, one is a women’s fiction novel set in Saudi Arabia, and one a thriller set in the deep south of the US.  One of the pleasures of editing is the variety of stories I get to see.

Helena Fairfax is a freelance editor and author of women’s fiction. Her latest book is a step outside her usual genre – Struggle and Suffrage in Halifax: Women’s Lives and the Fight for Equality is a non-fiction social history.

Have you got a personal bugbear? 

I don’t have a personal bugbear regarding use of language. I edit according to the usual grammar rules, but the story is more important than the grammar. Besides, the English language is fluid and always changing. I do dislike seeing lazy stereotypes in novels, though.

What has pleased you in your work?

I’m very happy when the writer is happy!

What didn’t please you? 

Reading books all day is a dream job. I can’t think of anything better.

What amused you? 

Any eccentric or quirky characters who don’t act in the way the reader expects.

Whose writing do you enjoy? 

I write romance and women’s fiction and I read a lot in this genre – from Georgette Heyer to Marian Keyes, to classics like Jane Austen. I also love sci-fi, and my two favourite authors are Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem.

Favourite title? 

That’s impossible to answer! I have too many. Besides the authors above, my favourite novels include Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford, The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, and Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín.

What do you like about these authors’ writing? 

They either tell a cracking story, or else they make you look at the world in a different way, or both.

Give us a quote. 

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” – Kurt Vonnegut

What’s your favourite word in English? 


Favourite saying? 

“Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Apart from your work, what plans or ambitions have you got? 

To write a book I’m happy with.

How will you do that? 

Keep trying!

What have you learned about life? 

It’s too short sometimes, and too long at others.

What have you learned about people? 

I’m still learning about people.

 Tell us something quirky about yourself. 

I’ve never watched a horror film all the way through. They give me nightmares.

 Finish with a story, true or false, with beginning, middle and end, up to 30, 60 or 120 words. 

A frog lived by a pond. He was an orphan frog, his parents having both died in a lawnmower accident. The frog whiled away his time croaking mournful songs among the reeds and imagining he was the offspring of nobility. One day a beautiful young girl took pity on him, the sad creature that he was, and knelt down beside the glassy green water to kiss him. After the kiss, the frog waited a moment. Then he checked out his reflection. Nope, he was still a frog. (87)

Posted in EDITOR'S Q & A.

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