About the Author
My name is Helen Christmas and live with my husband Peter on the south coast of England. Writing is something I am not only passionate about, but feel has always been in my blood. I have always wanted to be an author. Yet never felt I could take that next step, until I was confident I had created something worthy of being published.
In the summer of 2010 whilst walking our dog along the beach, the threads of a wonderful story began to gather inside my head; a story which would draw upon my own life experiences – would involve real people and address the many social issues and changes I have witnessed throughout my life. Hence, the concept of ‘Same Place Different Place’ was born, which I eventually began writing in 2011.
Once started, I never looked back
I was passionate about my story and lucky to find all the inspiration I needed to get started. My research took me to East London, where an exhibition of photographs by Ian Berry from 1972, helped me to portray the setting of my book and in exactly the right era. Later that same year, Peter and I were invited to stay in Nijmegen, Holland – a location I had chosen for one of the book’s main characters, Jake, thereby giving me a great opportunity to immerse myself in his homeland and refine his character. In 2014/15 I reintroduced Nijmegen back into the story, where one of the characters travels there.
I never actually intended ‘Beginnings’ to be a novel in its own right (it was only supposed to be the prologue), yet this is how it happened. I decided that ‘Same Face Different Place’ would be a series consisting of 4 books, one for each decade.
Discovering New Places
Before I reached the end of the first book, I embarked on a 2nd journey to London. By this time, I was already thinking about my 2nd book and needed to choose a location; somewhere near London, ideally a small town, close to some rural countryside and villages. As I continued my journey from London, through Kent, I discovered the towns of Swanley and Orpington. This trip also helped me to write the final chapter of my first book and when I read it back several weeks later, it occurred to me that I had followed the exact route taken by the book’s main character Eleanor, in readiness for Book 2.
I finished ‘Beginnings’ in October 2011 and almost straight away, started book 2 ‘Visions’. At the same time, the 1st book was being read by one or two volunteers – mainly to discover whether it was any good, before I had the courage to publish it!
After a final edit and a few extra tweaks (based on feedback from my readers), I published ‘Beginnings’ on Amazon Kindle in February 2012 and over the next year received some wonderful reviews.
At the same time, I was ploughing ahead with ‘Visions’ – a slower paced novel based around the restoration of a historic country house and a dark psychological thriller. When I finished the first draft of Book 2 (summer 2012), I ventured on a 3rd trip; returning to Orpington, from where I took the train to Bromley (another of the book’s locations) then followed a route on the London Underground, where I had based one of the book’s more gripping chase scenes. I also returned to Waterloo station, (an important location in both books.) From September 2012, I completely rewrote ‘Visions’ and took a further trip to Bromley. This time, I followed the route into Kent by car and explored some of the pretty villages around this area. I have kept a diary of all these research trips on my Blog.
Book 2 – ‘Visions’ was published in 2013 after much editing, rewriting and tweaking and after a short break from writing, I started Book 3 – ‘Pleasures’ in October. I began this 3rd book with a strong synopsis but after hitting a brick wall in the summer of 2014 I took time to edit the 1st 25 chapters, before finishing it. Just before I wrote the closing scenes, I visited the Old Bailey in London and had the pleasure of exploring the area around St. Paul’s including Paternoster Square, the London Stock Exchange and Holborn, all important locations in this story.
I have been lucky enough to have friends, fellow authors and a new Beta reader to read and review my work and after some very constructive criticism I finished ‘Pleasures’ in March 2015, described as my most thrilling work yet.
From August 2015, I began work on the 4th and final book in the series, Retribution, a novel which ended up so BIG I decided to split it into 2 books. Once again, I did much research for this final instalment, a journey that took me back to Shoreham, Orpington and all around London on two separate trips, from Chelsea to Shoreditch. Two years later, I was delighted to publish both books, in 2017. I am delighted to say, I have now completed the whole series.
So I have 5 books on Amazon, of which I am very proud. Writing has become a big part of my life, along with all the research and travelling involved in each story.
My other hobbies include country walks with my husband, friends from our walking group based in Sussex and our dog Barney. I also enjoy gardening, cooking, entertaining and reading – I have a love simple pleasures, especially exploring Britain and its lovely towns, coasts and countryside.