Friday In Focus Heidi Swain

Posted 1st April 2016 by Emma Poulloura in FIF, Q&A / 1 Comment

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Hello and welcome to another Friday in Focus. Easter may be over and done with but today I am joined by Heidi Swain for a little probing.

Hello Emma. Thank you so much for inviting me to feature today. It is an absolute pleasure to be here!

Tell us a little about you

My name is Heidi Swain and I am an author of commercial women’s fiction. I live in beautiful south Norfolk with my husband, kids and a totally bonkers black rescue cat called Storm.

My debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published last summer by Books and The City, (the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster), and became an Amazon number one bestseller. I juggle my writing time with working part time, running the teens around the county and struggling to keep the ironing pile in check.

Tell us about your new book

My second novel, Summer at Skylark Farm will be published on June 2nd and I can’t wait! It is set just outside the East Anglian market town of Wynbridge, (home of The Cherry Tree Café), and includes lots of my favourite things.

Here is the blurb…

Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.

Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.

But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?

What is your favourite place to write?

I try my best to write anywhere and everywhere. My life is pretty hectic so I have to make the most of every snatched moment. Sometimes I’m on the sofa, sometimes I’m in my car during my lunch hour, but my preferred go-to spot is the dining table at home where I sit facing the windows at the front of the house. I have my laptop, notebooks, pens and tea to hand and can write for hours, depending on cat antics and other interruptions of course!

Where do you get your character inspiration from?

That is such a difficult question to answer. More often than not the setting for a novel and what happens there will come to me first and then a character will simply wander up and plonk themselves in the middle of it as if they have always been there. Sometimes it feels like I have a line of feisty females just waiting for my brain to stumble upon their setting and story!

It is very challenging trying to explain how it works and that’s the best I can describe the process.

What are your 3 desert island books?

That is a simply infuriating question! How can I possibly pick just three? OK, I’ll give it my best shot but please note that if you were to ask me again in six months’ time the list would probably be completely different!

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

The Rector’s Wife, by Joanna Trollope

Letters To the Lost, by Iona Grey

But that means leaving out Harry Potter, everything by Dame Milly Johnson and The Wind in The Willows. Cruel, simply cruel!

What is your favourite place to read?

I always read before I go to sleep. It is a simple indulgence at the end of the day and so my favourite place to read is at home, in bed snuggled under the duvet.

What is your favourite book and why?

Another impossible to answer question! There are lots of books on my crammed shelves that I return to again and again so I am going to pick one of those. At the moment I am re-reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens courtesy of my obsession with the Dickensian series which started showing on the BBC at Christmas.

The novel was a text I studied in great detail at GCSE and I have always had a fondness for it and return to it every couple of years. However, I could have picked at least half a dozen go-to comfort reads to answer this question. Dickens just happens to be top of the pile at the moment!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My fantasy answer to this question is…

When I’m not writing I like to read, garden, sew something pretty or cook up a storm (not the cat).

My true to life answer to this question is…

Although I might not like it, when I’m not writing you can find me flinging the hoover around, washing dishes and checking up on homework and revision schedules!

I definitely need to factor in a few more ‘what I like to do hours’ in my life!

Chocolate or sweets?

Chocolate, but only a slab of Galaxy or a Galaxy Ripple will do. To tell you the truth I haven’t got a particularly sweet tooth so my consumption isn’t vast. A couple of Ripples a month at the very most!

Is there a book you wished you wrote?

Another tough question and I’m afraid I’m going to sound like a complete cliché, but it would have to be the Harry Potter series. My choice has nothing to do with the fame, money or the film franchise, but the gift that Rowling has given to the world. She has helped us muggles rediscover our imaginations and that’s no bad thing! When I was growing up I loved fantasy and adventure books and films and HP has the lot.

During my ten years as a teaching assistant I have worked with some extremely reluctant readers but I have had the privilege of seeing lots of them fall in love with HP and their ability to access their creativity, as well as improve their reading, has grown as a result.

You have a free flight and accommodation to anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would love to take a trip to New York, either in the Autumn or just before Christmas. I blame Sex and The City, You’ve Got Mail and at least a dozen other romcoms for the romantic fantasy I have woven around that city. I’m sure the reality would struggle to live up to what I imagine it would be like so perhaps it would be best not to book a flight. What do you think?

What is your favourite season?

I simply adore Spring. The slowly increasing light, the reawakening of the Earth, buds bursting, bulbs blooming, lambs leaping and the promise of warmth to come. What could be better?

I admit Autumn and the slowing down, taking stock and preparing to rest, comes a close second. All those blazing colours and warming fires…

There is something restorative, nourishing and incredibly important in each of the seasons and I believe we could all be the happier for living in tune with and listening to Mother Nature and the ebb and flow of the Earth.

Where can we find you?

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Friday In Focus Heidi SwainSummer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain
Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 2nd June 2016
Goodreads
Amazon UKAmazon US

Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn't quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.
Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined - it's cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.
But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?
A story of love in the countryside from the author of the bestselling The Cherry Tree Café.
Praise for The Cherry Tree Café:
'A heart-warming sweet treat of a read' Mandy Baggot
'Fans of Jenny Colgan and Carole Matthews will enjoy this heartfelt debut novel from talented new author, Heidi Swain. The Cherry Tree Café is that most delicious of things - a warm and gently funny story of reinvention, romance, and second chances that you'll devour in one sitting' Katie Oliver, author of the bestselling 'Marrying Mr Darcy' series
'The Cherry Tree Café is every bit as delicious as the cover promises. Drop in for a minute, and the fabulous world of the crafting cafe wraps itself around you, pulling you in right from the first page. Beautifully written, with a heroine I rooted for all the way, and a great supporting cast. Original and assured, and like a cup of Orange Pekoe tea - perfect to enjoy in the afternoon' Jane Linfoot, author of The Vintage Cinema Club

 

About Heidi Swain

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she finally 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 contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters.

Heidi can be found at the keyboard at all hours of the day and night and quite often scribbling longhand in her car during her lunch break. She lives in stunning south Norfolk with her wonderful son and daughter and a mischievous cat called Storm.

Emma Poulloura

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