I met Serena via email. She'd stumbled across my blog, liked it, and reached out for an interview. The email was so polite, that of course I said yes. And I'm glad I did.
Serena is an accomplished writer and blogger. Her books have been published in the UK and USA. They have been printed, audio booked, and kindled. She's one to learn from.
You can read more about her and her books at http://www.serenafairfax.com/
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. Why did you join the Romantic Novelists Association? And how has it helped your writing?
I joined it a long time ago when I first started writing romantic novels in order to get critique and feedback on my efforts. This was very helpful indeed. It’s a thriving association with lots of events and wonderful members who are generous with their time and tips and there’s no sense of hierarchy.
2. You grew up in India, but became a lawyer in England – how do these two different worlds affect your writing?
I think it helps to be able to understand two completely different worlds. The only novel of mine that it has had any real impact on is WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS which straddles both worlds/cultures at a pivotal moment in Indian/British history.
3. In your opinion is India or England more romantic in general?
Both are equally romantic but in quite different ways. India is exotic – soaring, snow-clad mountains and scorching plains, legendary gods and goddesses and holy rivers, many colourful festivals, and the deep significance of astrology whereas England has dappled meadows, ancient castles, snowdrop trails, bluebell woods, hawthorn hedges, may blossom and distinct four seasons of the year.
4. You have 5 books in print. Which one is your favorite and why?
Six novels now (just published the latest, WILFUL FATE) and one short story. I must whisper the confession ( in case the other titles are eavesdropping and decide to strike back) that GOLDEN GROVE is my favourite. This is because when I was writing it I was dating a guy (no pun intended) who was somewhat like the hero. The real man was/is a sweetie and although our romantic paths diverged, we’ve remained good friends ( the cliché is unavoidable but true).
5. Please describe your writing in 5 words.
Amor vincit omnia
6. Where do your ideas come from?
Listening to the radio, reading celeb. mags at the hairdresser, overhearing conversations on public transport are all terrific sources of inspiration.
7. Did you ever want to give up on this career called writing? What kept you going?
Well, it ‘s only a semi career because I’m still in the day job and that must take precedence so I can’t currently develop the writing to any greater extent. Once I’m able to write full time, that would be great and I couldn’t envisage abandoning the creative process which is rather addictive.
8. Why romantic novels? What draws you to them?
There’s nothing more exciting than writing a romance and building a relationship between two people that has an optimistic and emotionally fulfilling ending. I think it was Nora Roberts (goodness she’s so talented) who said ‘...it’s about the celebration of falling in love and emotion and commitment and all of those things we really want.’
I like experimenting with different genre, styles and techniques( whether I succeed is a matter for the reader- dear reader, won’t you let me know?) IN THE PINK is a completely different approach and genre from WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS and from STRANGE INHERITANCE, PAINT ME A DREAM, GOLDEN GROVE and WILFUL FATE. The short story THE BOARDROOM is again a departure. My voice depends on the mood I’m in when I start thinking about what I want to write next. I expect people will say I’m spreading myself too thin.
10. Have you ever taken any writing classes?
11. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
Early to rise to reach the day job. Breakfast consists of an avocado as that keeps me going until lunchtime.
12. You've ridden horses: What's the funniest thing that has happened to you while in the saddle?
Not so much in the saddle but out of it. Every time I approached a horse, whether it knew me or not, it invariably stamped on my right foot. Always the right, never the left. I now notice the glint in its eyes, drop a curtsy, and it sort of flicks its ears approvingly and behaves.
13. What authors would you recommend to your readers?
Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, Joseph Conrad and Baroness Orczy are all vivid story tellers.
14. If you could be any one of your characters, which character would it be and why?
I don’t think I can single out any one character. They’re all so different and have differing aspirations and dreams. I’m not like any of them and wouldn’t want to experience what I put them through!
15. What do you think of the publishing world today? Do you prefer ebooks over paper made?
The publishing industry is a cut-throat world and always has been. Ebooks are an interesting way forward and an ereader is a handy accessory although physical books still possess an allure and magnetic pull.
Never give up.
17. Are there any other associations you admire for writers?
Apart from the RNA, there’s the RRA, the Crime Writers Association, The Society of Authors and, last but not least, PEN International.
18. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My golden retriever who never nags or criticises. Unfortunately, despite his many talents, he hasn’t mastered the computer.
19. What's the funniest thing a fan has ever sent you? Said to you?
A reader sent me this fan letter.
I shall seek and find you. I shall take you to bed and control you. I’ll make you ache, shake and sweat until you grunt and groan. I’ll make you beg for mercy and l exhaust you to the point that you’ll relieved when I leave you. And you’ll remain weak for days.
With love and best wishes, Influenza
I’d like them tell me what they think of my books and my blog and never stop reading your fascinating blog.
21. When you write, do you act out any of the scenes? Do you research?
Acting, no. Research, yes. It’s the bane of my existence but unavoidable.
22. What do you do with your spare time? What other hobbies do you enjoy?
I’m a sucker for trying new things. I go the whole hog and buy all the gear but seldom keep it up. My cupboard is stuffed with the fruits of my endeavours. Ice skates, wetsuits, violin, sitar, wine-making equipment, Teach yourself Swahili in 10 easy lessons, wood-chopping axe, squash racket, state of the art sewing machine(never unpacked), guide to building a tree house.
23. What one word best describes you?
I’m a cock-eyed optimist.
Thanks and best wishes, Serena