Monday, 20 April 2015

Debut Spotlight: Helen Rolfe

Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Helen Rolfe whose debut novel The Friendship Tree was published in February.

Helen J Rolfe writes contemporary women's fiction with characters and settings to fall in love with. The Friendship Tree is Helen J Rolfe's debut novel and is a story about facing up to the past rather than running away from it. Themes in the novel include friendship, family, love and everything in between. 

Born and raised in the UK, Helen spent fourteen years living in Australia before returning home and settling in Bath, a city she is fast discovering to be one of the most beautiful places she has ever visited. 

You can find out more about Helen J Rolfe at:

Is running away ever the answer? 

Tamara Harding left the UK to join family in Australia, but more importantly, to put ten thousand miles between her and her ex, Bradley Cox. She is soon drawn in to the small community of Brewer Creek where she becomes the coordinator for an old fashioned Friendship Tree – a chart telling people who they can call on in times of trouble.

 As she vows to start over, she meets Jake Manning – and life gets more complicated than she could ever have imagined. Jake is the direct competitor for the family business, and a man with a dark secret, and Tamara struggles to fight her attraction to him as she deals with secrets of her own and an ex who refuses to give up. 

When danger descends on Brewer Creek in the form of Jake’s own past, Tamara soon realises the Friendship Tree does a lot more than organise fundraising events and working bees; it has the power to unite an entire town. But will Tamara see past the complications and allow herself a happy ending with Jake? 

Or will she run away again? 

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel The Friendship Tree?
The Friendship Tree tells the story of Tamara Harding and Jake Manning who both run from their pasts and end up in the quiet, unassuming town of Brewer Creek. It is a story about love, family and dealing with life’s complications, and at its heart is the importance of friendship.

Tamara leaves her boyfriend behind in London and feels that the distance of thousands of miles is the key to escaping his manipulative ways. She is also in town to spend time with her family and find out why her stepfather is being so secretive. Tamara ends up being the coordinator of an old-fashioned friendship tree which helps the town’s residents know who to call on in times of trouble.

Jake is new in town and a direct competitor for the Harding family business. But Jake has a dark secret of his own and so many complications in his life that he fights his attraction to Tamara, a determined character whose ex refuses to give up on her.

When danger threatens the residents of Brewer Creek, the friendship tree unites the entire town, and both Jake and Tamara must confront their pasts.

What inspired you to revolve the story about a 'friendship tree' which brings the community together?
I’ve always been fascinated by life in a small town and the relationships that form between residents. I think there’s something magical about a town so small that everyone knows each other and they pull together in times of trouble as well as times of joy. 

In trying to think of a unique way to bring a town together, I thought of a friendship tree and that was how my idea began. I then had fun developing character profiles, giving each one a different personality, and introducing various elements of conflict which I hope will keep readers hooked!

Which character did you have the most fun creating?
That’s a tough question…but I would have to say I fell for Mr Wilson, the elderly man who becomes Tamara’s unlikely confidant. He is an old man but hasn’t lost the twinkle of mischief in his eye that shows he was young once. 

If you had to describe The Friendship Tree in three words, what would they be? 
Touching, romantic, uplifting.

Your second novel Handle Me with Care is being published in June, can you give us a teaser as to what we can expect? 

Maddie Danes lost the love of her life and since then has hopped from one casual fling to the next. When she delivers an erotic cake to a 100th birthday party by mistake, she meets Evan Quinn and feels a real connection, a spark of hope. But when he reveals he faces his own battle to stay alive, will Maddie hang around and risk having her heart broken again? And when Evan finds out that he may never be able to give her what she really wants, will he let her make the sacrifice?

How did your writing journey start?  
I was a late starter…I worked as a computer programmer after University and that job took me over to Australia. I then studied journalism part time whilst I worked and finally made the leap in 2003 to write freelance for magazines. I started writing fiction in 2011 and I love it!

What is the best writing advice you have ever received? 
That’s a tough question…there is so much advice and so much to learn, and I’m still learning. 
I think that the best advice overall has been the simplest: Never give up. 

Do you set yourself a daily/weekly writing target?
I try to ensure I do a certain amount of hours which seems to work for me. I do limit my time on Facebook and Twitter though, because it’s easy to spend hours on there and never get anything written ☺ 

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on the blog


  1. What a lovely spotlight interview, good luck with The Friendship Tree Helen.