Many thanks to Helen for participating in this interview. I loved reading the answers as much as I loved reading the book. Please enjoy the following interview where we get an insight into Helen herself, as well as her book, and her humour shines through 🙂
MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND QUESTIONS
After reading the book I believe the Major stood up to a number of things; some which had been brewing for a while, others that were thrust his way. What do the words “Last Stand” in the title refer to?
The title of my book came early and unbidden. I think it represented a lot of issues that were in the back of my mind and it helped keep me on track whenever the writing process seemed complicated and uncertain. The fact that it seems to refer to more than one thing is somewhat deliberate. Obviously it does refer to a last chance at love; more than his physically heroic stand at the end. However, I feel strongly that life is a continuing series of chances – and who is to say when our last chance has come and gone?
I have seen a couple of different covers for your novel, which one do you prefer and why?
You are trying to get me into trouble with this question! My individual publishers and their marketing departments get to choose the covers they think will represent the book in their marketplaces. They asked my opinion and I was happy with all so far. I love the vintage Life Magazine image used in both the US and UK markets, while the Australian tea cups and folkloric icons design is very friendly and inviting – and both designs have been equally bestsellers. Book design is a field unto itself and I’m thrilled to have had excellent design teams assigned to my novel.
Who is your favourite character in “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” and why?
I love to claim that my favourite character is Roger, the Major’s obnoxious son. People love to hate him and I slyly accuse them of finding Roger a little too familiar to be comfortable! I can tell you that my parents did not take kindly to my own offer to buy them a phone with bigger buttons. Don’t we all have to watch out for our personal ‘Roger’ moments?
Are any of the characters based on real people and any of the places based on real places?
The landscape is very real to me. Even though the village and town are imaginary names, the shape of a village lane, the long stretch of a seaside promenade – these are visions of ‘home’ that live in the forefront of my imagination. I try very hard to make up people. I dislike the idea of taking a real person and simply changing hair colour or name to disguise them. I would find this lazy and if I feel a character approaches too close to someone I know, I will work hard to change direction. At the same time, nothing is really new, is it? I think all imagination is made up of small shards of experience, recombined in a new pattern.