Spotlight & Giveaway: Begin Again by Helly Acton

Posted April 4th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 15 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Helly Acton to HJ!

Hi Helly and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Begin Again!

Hello readers!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Begin Again is a novel about missed chances, what-ifs, and new beginnings.

Frankie McKenzie is unsettled. She’s eternally single, still renting and feels dissatisfied with her job as a celebrity gossip columnist. She doesn’t know what will make her happy. Is it a relationship? Owning a home? Travelling more? Before she figures it out, she dies in a freak kebab-related accident on the way home from a dud first date. Frankie finds herself on ‘the other side’ and is given a chance to revisit the crossroads of her life to see if making a different choice would have made her happier.
What if she accepted the marriage proposal from her university sweetheart?
What if she’d taken the one way flight to teach in Mexico?
What if she’d attended the high flying job interview she bailed on at the last minute?

By exploring how her life could have looked if she’d chosen differently, Frankie learns whether starting over will lead her to the fulfilment she so desperately seeks.

Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:

“You write the chapters with the choices you make and you’re in charge of your happy ending.”


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • The original title of the book was The Choice.
  • I took inspiration from all the different chapters of my own life, as well as shows like The Good Place and the film Sliding Doors.
  • The character, Tom, is based on my best friend Tom, who lives too far away from me in Tasmania.


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Frankie’s first impressed with Oli because he remembers her name, unlike her last date who called her Abbie the entire time. At the start of the novel, before Frankie embarks on her personal journey, her standards are quite low thanks to a string of awful dates.


Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?

Frankie’s death scene was a poignant to write and, although it’s brief, visualising the scene in my head brought a tear to my eye.

Frankie stares wide-eyed in horror as her hands let go of the kebab and the contents explode above her. Her head hits the concrete with a thunderous crack, followed by deafening silence.
She rolls her head back up to face the sky and sees Emir towering over her. His bald head is glowing.
‘Frankie?’ he shouts with voice so deep and slow that it sounds like he’s talking through treacle.
Trough the slits of her half-open eyelids, she watches the stars above expand until the entire sky turns a dazzling white.
‘Emir?’ she whispers.
‘Frankie, can you hear me? What day is it?’ he shouts.
‘It’s my birthday.’


Readers should read this book….

If, like me, you have a habit of wondering ‘What If?’ and imagining how your life would have looked if you’d made different decisions along the way. If, like me, you sometimes feel lost and scared about whether you’ve made mistakes or if you’re on the wrong path. If, like me, you’d like to regain some confidence in the life decisions you’ve made.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?

I’m currently writing my fourth novel, which is a high concept story about motherhood. That’s all I can say!

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: 3 Print copies of BEGIN AGAIN  to US-based winners.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What are some of your Begin Again moments? What if you’d made different choices along the way?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from Begin Again:

A tall woman with a blunt black bob and a thick fringe is standing behind a glass desk, clutching a clipboard to her chest. She’s wearing a white suit, oversized red glasses and is tapping a pen gently against her chin with her right hand.

“Hello, Frankie, welcome to The Station. Please, take a seat,” she says, using the pen to point to an office chair in front of the desk and lowering herself onto her chair. “I’m Mabel. I’ll be your guide here, helping you reach the next stage of your journey.”

Frankie remains tight-lipped as she approaches the desk, sits slowly and scours the room, searching for clues on what her imagination will hurl at her next. This nightmare is so vivid, she should remember to write it down when she wakes up. It could be her meal ticket out of The Leak. A futuristic horror film about a woman getting lost in a parallel universe. A dystopian romcom where she’s trapped in a reality show against her will. Maybe the cowboy next door is the love interest. Frankie’s mind wanders momentarily into the story, imagining how it could unfold.

Behind Mabel’s chair is a lift. Taking up most of the wall on her right is an enormous screen. And on one side of the desk is a large computer monitor, which is making Mabel’s face glow blue. In the reflection of Mabel’s glasses, Frankie sees a scrolling list. Frankie leans forward a few inches and squints.

“Confused?” Mabel asks abruptly, making Frankie jump back in her seat. “Understandable. Don’t worry, everything will be clearer in a few minutes,” Mabel says, clicking her computer mouse a few times. “Busy out there today, huh?” She doesn’t wait for Frankie to respond before she continues. “Oh, and before I forget, happy birthday, Frankie.” Mabel smiles.

Frankie rolls her eyes.

“Unhappy birthday?” Mabel says, removing her fingers from the mouse and resting her chin on her hands.

“Well, I don’t see any cake and balloons, do you?” Frankie says.

“Do you want cake? I can get you cake if you’d like some,” Mabel answers. “Carrot’s your favorite, right?”

Frankie shakes her head then frowns. “Wait, how did you know—?”

But Mabel interrupts. “You don’t do birthdays, do you, Frankie? You’d rather they pass under the radar, isn’t that right?” Mabel asks, as she starts scrolling again. “What do you call them again? Birthday minutes. Sixty seconds thinking about what you’ve done in your—”

Frankie squeezes her eyes tight and lets out an almighty scream, so loud that it scares even her. She has got to wake up. After five seconds, she clamps her mouth shut and pops open her eyes.

Mabel’s hands are paused over the keyboard, her eyes wide open behind her lenses. “Jeez. Scream louder, why don’t you? I don’t think that Hell heard you.”

“I am in Hell!” Frankie shouts.

“Believe me, you’d know if you were in Hell.” Mabel sniggers. “They certainly don’t offer cake down there. Or herbal tea. How about a cup of herbal tea? Calm those nerves?”

“I don’t need cake, I don’t need herbal tea, I need to wake the fuck up,” Frankie says, burying her head in her knees.

“Oh, Frankie. You can’t wake up when you aren’t asleep!” Mabel says.

“But I am asleep.”

“Believe me, you’re not.”

“I am and this is a literal nightmare. I’m a celebrity columnist, get me out of here.”

“No, Frankie, you’re dead.”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

Despite living firmly in her comfort zone, Frankie McKenzie feels unsettled. She can’t help feeling something’s missing. Is it a home to call her own? Travel? A more rewarding job? A relationship? Before she can work it out, she dies in a freak kebab-related accident after what she sees as yet another dud of a first date.

But life isn’t over for Frankie. Instead, she is miraculously offered a second chance: Frankie can revisit key moments from her past to see if different choices will lead her to the fulfilling life she’s always dreamt of.

And there are so many opportunities! Should she decide to languidly lounge by warm Mexican waters with sexy Raphael? Or say yes to the proposal of earnestly reliable university-sweetheart Toby? Perhaps a worry-free gilded cage with Callum is the solution! Or what about that high-powered media career she thought that she wanted?

Soon, Frankie will see what her life would have been if only she’d caught that one-way flight, accepted the marriage proposal, or attended the intimidating job interview. Will she finally find her Mr. Right? Or discover she already had? Which way should she turn? And over and over she asks herself the question…

What would she change if she could begin again?
Book Links: Amazon | B&N |  Google |

Meet the Author:

Helly Acton is a copywriter from London with past lives in Zimbabwe, the Middle East, and Australia. She studied Law at King’s College London before following a more creative path into advertising. At twenty-six, she took a career break to travel in Africa and Asia before landing in Sydney. Six years and one life-affirming breakup later, she returned home and threw herself into online dating in the city.
Helly currently lives in Berkshire surrounded by boys. Her husband, Chris, their toddlers, Arlo and Jack, and their terrier Milo. Sometimes, she gets their names mixed up.
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15 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Begin Again by Helly Acton”

  1. psu1493

    I would have double majored in college and gotten my passport sooner so I could teach overseas. I would have taken a couple of foreign languages classes.

  2. erahime

    Those moments comprised of decisions that could have changed the direction of my life in education, career, and more. A direction it could take would be a different major in college that I would use for my career.

  3. Amy Donahue

    I’m sure there are millions of choices that could have changed the trajectory of my life but I prefer to focus on what is not what could have been.

  4. Mary C

    Not sure I would change anything as I like where I am now based on my choices.

  5. Glenda M

    If I had not applied for the internship as a tech writer with IBM, I would not have gotten the job that gave me the opportunity to take a temporary job assignment halfway across the country where I met my husband of 32 years

  6. Dianne Casey

    I wouldn’t have changed anything. Every thing that has happened has made me who I am and I’m happy where I’m now.

  7. rkcjmomma

    I wouldve had more kids before i had to have a hysterectomy from cervical cancer

  8. Patricia Barraclough

    I am pretty satisfied with the choices I made. The two things I would change would be getting a job with a retirement (small non-profits don’t pay well or have benefits). The other would be to travel right after retiring. Doing all those projects first could have waited. Now we are older and can’t do some of the things or go some of the places we wanted to.