Stop press news: Since Heidi Swain answered her questions for this blog post, her book Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair has made it into the Sunday Times Bestsellers List – Wow! Congratulations, Heidi.
My guest this week is Heidi Swain. Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.
A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster. Heidi lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.
Her debut novel, The Chery Tree Café (I loved this book, Heidi) 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.
I asked Heidi some questions:-
How do you cope with writing when other things in your life demand attention?
I’m pretty fierce when it comes to protecting my writing time, but I’m also a realist and happy to accept that there are always going to be those times when family life, trips to the vet and professional commitments have to come first.
Mostly I can manage to work around disruptions. I’ve become better at filtering things out, knuckling down and powering through, but there are those occasions when I simply have to admit that I’m not going to get the words down for one reason or another.
Just like everyone else reading this post I have multiple roles – mum, wife, daughter, chief cook, bottle washer and cat wrangler and sometimes I just have to concede that a day, or even a week, for whatever reason, isn’t going to be conducive to creativity and on those occasions I plan, make notes and then plan some more. That achieved, when life settles back down I can pick up my work and I’m good to go.
Basically, my coping strategy comprises of being very organised and making lists. A whole host of them!
How is the heroine, Anna, of your book Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair, like you?
Anna is something of a perfectionist and a bit of a workaholic and I guess you could stick me in those categories if you really wanted to. If I’m doing something then I’m sticking at it and I’m doing it to the best of my ability, otherwise, what’s the point?
I’m absolutely rubbish at delegating. My rather squiffy attitude to most things is that if I’m not doing it all myself then I must be failing somewhere along the line. I’m rubbish when it comes to accepting help and even more rubbish at twiddling my thumbs. I always have to have something on the go. It will be interesting to see if folk think Anna is cut from the same ‘busy cloth’ as I am!
Is Wynthorpe Hall based on an actual place?
Yes, the Hall, grounds and one of the rooms are based on somewhere I love in Norfolk. It’s a house I know very well and it has a special place in my heart. I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time and it was just a case of waiting for the right story to come along. The setting lends itself perfectly to creating the ultimate country-house celebration and I consider myself very lucky to have been given the opportunity to write another lovely Christmas book.
If you were casting actors for a film of your Christmas book, who would play Anna and Jamie?
I always find these sorts of questions really tricky to answer. I think it’s because I rarely base a character’s looks on anyone I’ve seen in real life or on the big screen.
Rachel Weisz or Anna Popplewell could fill the role of Anna, although I’ve just read that Rachel Weisz is older than I am which is really rather depressing. For me, not her, obvs.
And if Eddie Redmayne turned up to audition for Jamie’s role, then I would be rather happy to see him.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on the ingeniously titled Novel Number 6 which will be published next summer. I can’t give much away about it just yet, but there will be a few familiar faces popping up amongst the pages along with some fun new characters and a gorgeous new setting. Not that I’m biased of course…
Thank you for a fascinating insight into your writing life, Heidi.
To contact Heidi, please use the following links:-
When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.
A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.
Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?
Join Anna for a festive journey that is festooned with sleigh rides and silver bells and help her discover her happy ever after.
Purchasing link for Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair:
Readers – maybe you’d let me know in the comments which is your favourite Christmas book this year?
Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My novel The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit is available from all ebook platforms – Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Google Play.