Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TBR welcomes Serena Fairfax

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Serena. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Serena: Hello! Nice to be on the other side of the pond.  I’m Serena Fairfax and I write sagas and contemporary novels with a romance theme. I’m a lawyer labouring in the vineyard at the day job and I live in London with my golden retriever, Inspector Morse.  

TBR: Tell us about WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS and where it's available.
 It’s set in India. The past and the present interweave - from the last turbulent days of the British Raj to the present day, and from the small railway town of Ajeemkot and the princely state of Walipur to the cutting edge of the modern city of Delhi, and Sivalik - a pine scented hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas.    In this atmospheric, passionate and poignant account of a clash of cultures, caste and creed, divided family loyalties, wealthy heartthrobs and the power of love, the story is told through three women whose lives entwine. 
  Hermie - a headstrong and bewitching Anglo-Indian - turns her back on the Anglo-Indian (a distinct, mixed-ethnicity) community and reinvents herself only to find that a dark secret threatens to send her life spiralling out of control and cost her everything.   Sharp-witted Edith, exiled in India from her native Germany by Nazi persecution, faces stark choices in a future very different from that she envisaged.   Kay, separated by more than a generation from Hermie and Edith, is haunted by a family mystery. It’s a book of two halves spliced in a rich mosaic. The first part takes the reader on a roller coaster journey with Hermie and Edith to middle-age. In the second half, Kay goes on a bruising and edgy quest for roots, pulled to India from her suburban English life.

Available as an ebook from:

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Here’s an excerpt.
‘A ripened peach and just seventeen, man. She’ll be heartbreaker and trouble stirrer, yawl see, the railwayman muttered to a work-mate their gaze locked on Hermie Blake as she propped up her black Raleigh bicycle against a betel-stained wall of Ajeemkot’s two-storied mustard and red brick station building and un-looped a basket from the handlebars.    Then, tucking her broad brimmed khaki solar topi under one arm, she hurried, her bronze tumble of hair lit by sunlight, up the dusty, stone steps to the arched entrance. After a humid night that promised the monsoon, the temperature had climbed. That June day in 1939 was cloudless with a slight heat haze and above the raucous bustle of the station the chimes of the town’s Victoria Jubilee Memorial clock danced across on a spice-spiked breeze.  
   Eight o’clock! Hermie – christened but seldom called Hermione - glanced across for confirmation to the station clock - accurate to a second- courtesy of its German manufacturer, and gave a gusty sigh. She wiped her damp forehead, grimly conscious that she was late again for work and mentally hurled invective at Bishu, their absent chokra- houseboy. 
    ‘Girlee. Wait! That jungly boy has hopped to the bazaar forgetting Pa’s tiffin as usual.’ Hermie’s mother, Noreen, had buttonholed her as she was about to leave home. ‘And mind, yawl know Pa’s a picky eater. So drop this in for him on your way.’

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
I spent my childhood in India  and met many Anglo-Indians. I just felt that here was a compelling story-line  with the lives of the protagonists changing direction under the influence of contemporary events.  

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Serena: A bit of both – mix and match  - and I think that works for me and gives me the freedom to wander down alleyways without feeling wretched I’ve gone off-piste and reaching for another chocolate!

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Serena: Jim Harris, the American author said: The only advice I can give to an aspiring writer is don’t do it unless you’re willing to give your whole life to it. Red wine and garlic also helps.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Serena: As a dinner guest, I’d  invite the Maharajah of Walipur. He’s a fun loving, generous, amiable, ace sportsman with an eye for the ladies and would almost certainly shower me with gifts and be utterly tactful about my atrocious cooking. I definitely wouldn’t want his mother, the haughty Maharani Amrita, to join us because she’s such a snob and  very caste and money conscious and the Maharajah and I wouldn’t be able  to smooch.  Anyway, I rather think she’d find a cast iron excuse not to come!

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Serena: When creating WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS I learned that the Anglo-Indian community has a tasty, rather special  and varied cuisine  and some members of the community were very hospitable  and invited me to their homes where I enjoyed  the most delicious food.

TBR: What's next for you?
Serena: As I find minority communities fascinating, I like writing about them although I haven’t figured out why I put myself through the wringer of research. My next effort is a saga about the minority Indian Jewish community seen through the eyes of a feisty European girl who marries into it. I’ve just finished writing a piece of erotica – I like experimenting with different genres.

TBR: Any other published works?
Serena: STRANGE INHERITANCE and PAINT ME A DREAM  were published by Robert Hale Ltd. WHERE THE BULBUL SINGS; GOLDEN GROVE; IN THE PINK ( a quirky, wry, departure in style) and WILFUL FATE are all  indie-published. And on my blog are some short stories.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Serena: It’s challenging to sit down at my pc after a hard day in the office and switch off from the day job. A strategy  to get the creative juices flowing is to start writing a piece  about the most difficult person I encountered that morning. The most rewarding aspect? Well, those magic words THE END.

TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Serena: I wish I could write a murder most foul but I can’t see myself going on that journey. I love thrillers and psychological novels with a twist. Some of my favourite authors are Val McDermid (The Vanishing Point) Jussi Adler-Olsen (Mercy)  and all John Grisham’s. At the moment I’m devouring Peter Murphy’s Shall We Gather At The River.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Email:        info@serenafairfax.com

TBR: Thanks for visiting TBR, Serena. Best of luck to you.

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