Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature and flirted briefly with a newspaper career. She married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously. Her debut novel, ‘The Chery Tree Café’ was published in July 2015 (paperback June 2017) and ‘Summer at Skylark Farm’ hit the shelves the following June. ‘Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market’ was a hugely successful Christmas 2016 release and her fourth book, ‘Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage’ was published in July 2017. She is currently celebrating her October 2017 Christmas release, ‘Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair’. Heidi lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.
- To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
Hello Bronagh! Thank you so much for inviting me along today and hello to everyone who has dropped in to have a read. My name is Heidi Swain and I am an author of ‘feel good fiction’ signed to Simon and Schuster.
I have written stories for as long as I can remember, but my big break into publishing came after I submitted my debut novel, ‘The Cherry Tree Café’ to my publisher via their #oneday open call for submissions.
- What made you decide to write female fiction?
Female fiction has long been my favourite genre to read and I wanted to see if I had it in me to write the kind of book I would enjoy snuggling up with.
I know it probably sounds self-indulgent, but I wanted to write about characters I would love to be friends with and who live in places I would love to visit. Fortunately, my readers feel the same way. I’ve lost count of the number of messages, emails and tweets I’ve received from folk who want to move to Wynbridge.
- If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
That’s a great question! My goodness, so many authors… Without a doubt I would have to invite Trisha Ashley, Milly Johnson, Jilly Cooper and JK Rowling.
- What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
That’s tricky to answer, because it can vary from book to book, but more often than not, as long as the words and ideas are flowing, writing the first draft is my favourite part of the process. I never end a writing session without knowing how I will carry on the next time I sit down. I’ll scribble a few notes, perhaps write the opening line and then mull the action over from then on until I start writing again.
- What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
The opening line of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – “Marley was dead: to begin with”. If that doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, nothing will! I love the way Dickens then goes on to talk to his readers, leaving them in no doubt that he really is standing next to them as they read. Pure magic.
- You’re quite prolific on Instagram, what’s your top tip to take the perfect photograph?
Truth be told, I have no idea! I just click away and hope for the best. That said, if I’m photographing a flower, I like to zoom in on the detail but if I’m snapping my baking or something in the house, I do pay attention to the background. No one wants to see a pile of dirty laundry or stacks of dishes!
- Who’s your favourite literary hero or heroine?
I know you’ve asked for one or the other, but I have to pick two – the dynamic duo of Pop and Ma Larkin. Between them there’s no problem they can’t solve, no belly they can’t fill and no mood they can’t lift. I love their kindness, generosity and abundant love for their family and friends.
- What do you think makes a good book?
A good book for me can be defined by its ability to carry me away and make me forget everything other than the words on the page. I want to be transported into the world the author has created and left in no doubt that if I bumped into the characters, or turned up in their town I would know who I was talking to and where I was, straightaway.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
Three books! How about thirty three? Can I go for three collections? Let’s assume I can…
The entire ‘Harry Potter’ series
‘The Darling Buds of May’ and all the other books H E Bates wrote about the Larkin family
My Miss Read collection
I know I’ve cheated but I’m guilt ridden have left behind ‘Wind in The Willows’, Trisha Ashley and Dickens!
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
I think the most important thing is to just keep writing. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Push yourself to find the time and make the commitment to write every day and don’t abandon projects before you’ve written or typed The End. Every piece of fiction, no matter how short or long will have tricky patches but you have to work through them otherwise you’ll never learn how to finish anything.
Also, read widely, and not just the genre you write in.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
I have a few things on the table – tea, notes, pencil, laptop, the usual really, but I also have a feather bookmark decorated with amethyst beads and an owl. The Goddess Athena is the goddess of the arts and literature and she had an owl, so I like to have a representation of her by me when I sit down to write.
- And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
My sixth book, ‘Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square’, is due to be published at the end of May. It features a Wynbridge girl who is rebuilding her life after the breakdown of her marriage. She has made the brave decision not to move back to her home town and instead, she buys a house in Nightingale Square in Norwich.
This will be the first book which isn’t set in or around Wynbridge and as daunting as that feels because my readers love the town, it has been very exciting. Creating somewhere new and filling it with a wonderful little urban community has been great fun and I hope the fine folk of Nightingale Square touch everyone’s hearts.