Helen was born on February 20 in New Zealand, where she grew up, an only child possessed by a vivid imagination and a love for reading. She wrote stories for amusement in her early teenage years, and when she left leaving school, she took a secretarial job at a father-and-son legal firm.
At age twenty-one Helen joined a girlfriend and embarked on a working holiday in Australia, travelling via cruise ship from Auckland to Melbourne. Alas, no shipboard romance, as she spent all four days in her cabin suffering from sea-sickness! After fifteen months working in Melbourne, Helen and her friend bought a vehicle and took three months to drive the length and breadth of Australia, choosing to work in Cairns in order to fund the final leg of our journey to Sydney.
It was in Cairns that Helen met her future husband, Danilo Bianchin, an Italian immigrant from Treviso. He was a tobacco sharefarmer from the tobacco farming community of Mareeba. His English was pitiful, and her command of Italian was nil. Six months later they married, and Helen was flung into cooking for up to nine tobacco pickers, stringing tobacco, feeding 200 chickens, a few turkeys, ducks... plus killing, cleaning and cooking the same! Her knowledge of Italian improved, and there were hilarious moments in retrospect. Some of what she endured was cooking on a wood-burning stove, having no running hot water, a primitive shower and toilet facilities, washing uniforms for two soccer teams during the soccer season... floods, horrendous hailstone damage to tobacco crops, hardship, and the stillbirth of their first child. Then, to their joy, Helen's daughter, Lucia, was born. Three years later the couple returned to New Zealand, where they settled for sixteen years. During those early years, they added two sons, Angelo and Peter, to the family.
With multiple anecdotes of farm life in an Italian community to friends, the idea of writing a book occurred. A romance, set on a tobacco farm in Australia's far north, Queensland, featuring an Italian hero. Helen says, "the background was authentic, believe me!" However the hero was rich and owned the farm artistic license! It took her a year to complete a passable manuscript, typed on a portable typewriter at the dining room table. That first effort was deemed too short with insufficient detail. Helen rewrote it. This time it was considered too long with too much extraneous detail. She revised, then sent it to London. Four months later she received a telegram from Alan Boon (Mills & Boon) to say they intended to publish and a contract would be sent in the mail. It was the most wonderful news!
Helen wrote ten more books while living in New Zealand, then in 1981, her family resettled in Australia, on Queensland's Gold Coast. She has since published twenty-five more books. Today, with computer technology, the mechanics of writing are much easier. However, the writing process doesn't change. Helen says that she's having a good day if she can achieve 5 good pages, which she is likely to change, edit and rewrite the following day.
She loves creating characters, giving them life and providing a situation where their emotions are tested and love wins out. For her, the greatest praise is for a reader to say they couldn't put the book down... then Helen knows that she has achieved what she set out to do -- "create a moving enjoyable story which holds the reader entertained from beginning to end."
Helen's hobbies are tennis, table-tennis, judo, reading. She loves movies, and leads an active social life.