The Love on the Island Boxset, with Books 1-3 in the series, is out exactly a week from now. Yay! While waiting for the Big Day, I thought I’d let you have some background to how I came to write a set of books about the serenely beautiful Åland Islands and their quirky inhabitants.
A Murder Mystery?
Initially, I wanted to write a Nordic Noir type of title set on the Islands. Having read (and loved) all the books in the Sandham Murders series by Viveca Sten, I felt that a similar set of stories would suit the Nordic group of islands perfectly.
The Åland Islands lie just a little east of the Stockholm, in the outer edges of the Finnish archipelago. It’s a small community, with a population of just 7,000 during the winter. This number more than trebles in size during the tourist season, just like Sandhamn. There would be plenty of opportunity for criminality, with such a fluid population.
But try as I might, I just could not bring myself to write about murder and mayhem (not the blood-curling kind anyway) in my beloved Åland.
A Story of Displacement
Years ago, during my MA in Creative Writing course, I wrote the beginning of a story set on the Islands. A woman, holidaying on the islands, decides to stay on while her English husband and son return to London as planned. Raised on the islands, the woman’s marriage is on the verge of a breakdown.
On the islands, she meets a local blonde, blue-eyed journalists (ring any bells?), and falls madly in love with him.
That’s how far I got in the story before I had to get back to writing Coffee and Vodka, my then-current manuscript.
But the story of this woman refusing to leave the place where she grew up, kept playing on my mind. It was how I myself often felt when having to say goodbye to my home in Finland after a holiday. Even after 35 years in the UK, I still often fantasize about a permanent return. (Now more than ever, but that’s another story.)
When I failed to write a murder mystery set on the Islands, I went back to this skeleton of a story. So you could say that the characters of Alicia and Patrick have been with me for more than ten years! 😉
At the same time as I was thinking about how the story of this woman returning back to the islands would develop, I was obsessed with The Affair, a US TV series.
This series explores the consequences of an illicit affair between Noah, an aspiring author, and Alison, a local waitress. Alison has lost a child in a terrible accident and is trying to piece together her marriage to Cole. While Noah, happily married to Helen, resents the family’s financial dependence on Helen’s rich and famous author father. The first meeting between Noah and Alison is electric and the ensuing affair destroys their own lives, and everything around them.
Although I wasn’t writing a murder mystery, I wanted my Åland story to be something equally gripping and emotionally charged as The Affair.
I was thrilled when one of the bloggers, Book Dust Magic, reviewing The Island Affair shortly after its publication last year, noticed the connection between the TV series and the book. In no way did I intend to copy the story (scout’s honour), but I did want to create similar tension in the plot.
Love on the Island Series
Once I had the premise for the first book, writing more in the series was easy. Well, I say easy, it was easier. I really enjoy engrossing myself in Alicia and Patrick’s lives, and in the island life. Adding characters, or going more deeply into the other people’s lives in the story, is fun and hugely pleasurable.
After the drama in The Island Affair, writing An Island Christmas about the perfect family holiday, only be disrupted by both of your exes, was such a delight. This book spurred me further on to write The Island Daughter, a novel which turned out to mirror my own life a lot more than I had anticipated. (Read a post here about the story behind this novel.)
Love on the Island Boxset – The Blurb
Transport yourself through ‘sensational fiction’ to the fascinating and serenely beautiful Åland Islands between Finland and Sweden!
Love on the Island series by the ‘brilliant author’ Helena Halme is a sweeping saga set on a small group of Nordic islands filled with tourists in the summer and snow and ice in the winter. This boxset combines the three first full-length novels in the ‘must read’ series with Alicia, a journalist raised on the islands, her British surgeon husband, Liam, and a Swedish reporter, Patrick, who makes Alicia’s heart beat a little too fast…
The Island Affair (Book 1)
After her son’s tragic death, journalist Alicia and her husband Liam travel to the Nordic Islands where Alicia was raised. As they struggle to keep their marriage afloat, secrets are revealed which threaten to end their relationship, but at the same time give Alicia hope for the future. Enter tall, blonde Patrick with the most piercing blue eyes Alicia has ever seen. As the summer heats up, can Alicia find a way to embrace life and love once more?
An Island Christmas (Book 2)
It’s time for Alicia to enjoy her first winter back on her beloved Islands with her family. But her estranged husband, Liam, springs an unwelcome and devastating surprise and her ex-lover, Patrick, tempts her with an altogether different kind of future, making Alicia face an impossible choice. With her world crashing around her, can Alicia create the idyllic Island Christmas she’s always dreamt about?
The Island Daughter (Book 3)
Alicia returns home to the islands after a family tragedy, leaving behind a new life in Stockholm with Patrick. But when Mia Eriksson, Patrick’s ex, makes a move to rekindle her relationship with him, Alicia is torn between duty and her own happiness. Alicia’s world is further upended when deeply buried family secrets surface. How can she face the future when everything she believed to be true about her past is a lie?
Join Alicia’s small island community in the captivating new series set on the most picturesque of Scandinavian islands. Once you enter her world, you’ll never want to leave.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into how I came to write a series set on the Åland Islands. I am already plotting Book 4, as yet untitled, and I’m really enjoying being back on the islands!
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