Hélene, welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Sweden where I lived until I was in my teens.
I'm a qualified teacher specialising in children with learning difficulties and a therapist mainly dealing with rehabilitation of children suffering with disabilities, mental and physical. I work in a team to support the entire family – my priority is to support people whose lives are turned upside down, who require assistance on a daily basis.
My native city is Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, where I live and write for part of the year although I've lived and worked in London for over 20 years.
Ever since I was very young, my parents instilled in me how important it is to read and learn about other parts of the world, cultures and way of life. I was introduced to literature and received books every birthday from the age of five onwards. Whenever I get the time to indulge and engage with other people's novels, I love to read and escape into another world filled with exciting characters and intriguing plots!
A family friend entered my name into a national tv contest for young performers without my knowledge and I won. After that I was signed up with a record producer in Sweden's capital, Stockholm. I very much enjoyed that period of my life and performed all over Scandinavia and in Italy. Eventually, I decided I wanted to become a teacher and enrolled at university. I've fond memories of my brief musical career yet never regretted leaving it behind.
Gosh, it's quite difficult to summarise my interests and life up to date! Everyone who knows me, know how fond I am of animals, music, the arts and outdoor living. Currently, I have a gorgeous rescue cat. Teddy is my constant companion when I write, in Malmö and London. I love spending time with him, family and friends and also enjoy time on my own between writing novels and working.
We Never Said Goodbye is your latest novel, could you tell us what it's about in your own words?
We Never Said Goodbye is about how people are shaped by their background, and how their actions reflect on themselves and those who cross their path. When the leading protagonist is abandoned by her husband on their 20th anniversary, hidden agendas and revelations are brought into the open and nothing is what it seemed.
My novels deal with what makes people act in a certain way and the ability in everyone to transform and improve both their own and others’ lives. I believe everyone can change for the better and that whatever happened in the past can be overcome if people are willing to embrace a new way of life and deal with past experiences.
My novel deals with relatable themes, such as love and friendship, bigotry, sexual orientation, abuse and losing one kind of life in exchange for another and the power everyone has to learn from experience. The characters and themes are identifiable and thought provoking.
Predominantly, the novel introduces readers to characters whose lives are transformed for the better despite their past experiences and their journey to get the life they deserve.
The book explores marriage and relationship breakdowns, a theme popular in domestic noir and psychological thrillers. Why do you think this is?
Nowadays, everyone is expected to participate with everything on and off line. People long for a close relationship, communication face to face and seek role models to identify with. The Internet is great in many ways, yet lacks the personal touch and is all consuming. Watching and reading about identifiable characters and situations are so important in a society that expects everyone to subscribe to current trends and detach from reality on some level.
Louise is conflicted between her life in London and yearning to return to Malmö. Does this come from your personal experience?
Partly. Sweden is my native country. It's where I spent my childhood and formative years. It's the place I grew up in and where part of my family live. It's where my late parents are buried and where I'm able to enjoy city life and the numerous parks and beaches, the best of everything. I love the scenery and nature which inspire me to write.
I guess it's a different, slower pace of life that helps to recharge ' my batteries ' during part of the year.
Equally, London's also where I've got my roots. I was born into an Anglo-Swedish family so enjoy both countries in different ways. The pace is faster in London but I like that as it gives me the best of both worlds!
Scandinavian literature is very popular with UK readers. Why do you think this is and what sets it apart?
I believe it's to do with the realistic, somewhat morally complex characterisations and narrative. Scandinavian people normally thrive on realistic descriptions and characters that we can relate with somehow. We're not as politically correct as British people and love nothing better than to have a good in depth conversation over coffee and Fika breaks! (Fika coffee breaks and friendly get togethers are an integral part of Swedish life).
Most writers are readers. Is this the case with yourself? Which authors and novels would you recommend as must reads?
I always have a collection of books in my office and on my bedside table so I have the next read ready when I've completed a novel. It's when I get the time to engage with them without interruption.
Gosh, I've so many favourite authors and books!
Below are just a few you may wish to read.
One of my consistent favourites is the wonderful Swedish poet and author Karin Boye. I've got her complete works and in particular love her poems Yes, Of Course It Hurts and The Best which I've highlighted in my debut novel Because of You and We Never Said Goodbye as they are heartfelt and relatable. In my view, David McDuff's translations into English are the best and almost as good as the Swedish original writing.
Hjalmar Söderberg: The Serious Game.
The novel is set around 1900 and centres around two young people who fall in love, their subsequent relationship and disillusions. It's a classic and timeless story as the characters and events are just as relatable now as back then.
Linda Ohlsson: Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs.
The main characters are two women. One is young, the other is nearing the end of their life. Yet both experience the same things and have a surprising amount in common.
As a non-writer I'm always fascinated by the writing process. Can you tell us about where you write and what aids the writing process?
When I'm in Malmö, I write in our flat overlooking the Öresund Bridge and Denmark. It inspires me to write my novels, characterisations and plots as I feel close to the beautiful scenery, parks and beaches outside. I start to write in the early morning hours, every day except Sundays which I spend with family and friends. I work 10 hours with regular breaks and my cat Teddy sits next to me most of the time, except when he reminds me it's time to feed and play with him and I always cycle or go for a walk in the beautiful surroundings outside our home to clear my brain and come up with new ideas and angles.
In London, I write in my office as my home environment is quite busy with people coming and going most of the time! I'm equally inspired in London, but life is more hectic and I've many professional commitments so tend to work late nights and holidays when I'm there. What mainly aids the writing process is the encouragement I get from family and friends in both cities.
And finally, what are you working on next?
I've just completed my third novel His Guilty Secret which will be edited in the summer. I like to put aside my novels for a short period of time to enable me to read them with fresh eyes.
Just like my debut and second novels, it centres around strong characters with their respective secrets and flaws and an exciting plot and narrative that fluctuates between Malmö, London and Paris.
Thank you for taking the time to engage with We Never Said Goodbye!
I hope you will enjoy reading my novel.
With much love; Hélene.
We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont is out on 6th April (Fridhem, £9.99)
When Louise is dumped by Mike on their twentieth wedding anniversary, she faces the daunting task of picking up the pieces of her life. She can either choose to persevere in her adopted hometown of London, bolstered by dear friends and the fashion business she loves, or return to her native Sweden alone. Can she find happiness with an old flame in a city she avoided for two decades? Or will her ex’s violent, criminal past haunt her forever?
As Mike becomes increasingly unhinged, the choices Louise makes could prove fatal. Will she ever be able to say goodbye to the past and start afresh?
Full of suspense and drama, We Never Said Goodbye explores the secrets and scandals we hide from loved ones, the enduring scars of abuse and the exhilarating feeling of falling in love again after heartbreak. With a dark and tangled ‘Scandi’ mood, this novel is ideal for fans of drama, romance and Scandi-inspired suspense novels.
Hélene Fermont is an Anglo-Swedish author of contemporary women’s fiction with a psychological twist. We Never Said Goodbye is Hélene’s second novel, following on from her 2016 debut novel Because Of You.
Hélene’s works feature a Scandinavian-British narrative and in-depth psychological characterisations inspired by her experience as a psychologist working with victims of abuse. Hélene lives both in Middlesex, UK and Malmö, Sweden.
@helenefermont / helenefermont / www.helenefermont.com