Today I am very excited to be joined by Heidi Swain to talk about her new book.
Hello lovely! Thank you so much for taking part in this wonderful blog tour and for inviting me to talk about all things Skylark Farm and writing related.
Can you summarize this book?
Summer at Skylark Farm follows the journey of city girl Amber who, ready to make some changes to her life, gives up her high flying career to move to the countryside with her boyfriend Jake. Amber is keen to embrace country life and together she and Jake set about turning around the fortunes of Skylark Farm. It isn’t all plain sailing of course and Amber soon realises she has a lot to learn if she is going to make a success of her new life in the country.
Tell us about the characters in this book
Summer at Skylark Farm has a whole host of new characters but there are also some familiar faces from my debut novel The Cherry Tree Café, who make a welcome return. Jemma and Lizzie, the baking and crafting duo feature, as do Jim and Evelyn from The Mermaid pub in Wynbridge town centre.
Living at the farm with Amber and Jake there is also Annie, (Jake’s ‘slightly’ eccentric spinster aunt and Skylark Farm owner), and Jessica and Harriet, who become firm friends with Amber are always popping in to offer advice and help out. And then of course there’s Jake’s prickly ex, Holly, but the least said about her the better!
Who is your favourite?
Gosh, that’s a tricky question. I think I would have to say Annie. She’s lived at Skylark Farm all her life, has a fondness for unusual hats and an enviable knowledge of country cures. She is wise, occasionally stubborn and has an enviable wit!
Who was the easiest to write?
Definitely Amber. When the inspiration to write a farm novel struck she was already waiting in the wings jumping up and down shouting ‘pick me, pick me’. She was more than ready to make some changes to her life and I was happy to oblige her with a story all of her own.
Who was the most difficult?
I don’t think I found anyone difficult. All characters like to push their luck from time to time and refuse to do as they are told, but we worked it out between us and this novel is the happy result.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I think it is fair to say that writing any second novel is tricky. More often than not the first has no deadline and there are no expectations attached to it. However, second time around, things are different. The Cherry Tree Café was so well received that I knew I had a lot to live up to. I definitely felt that weight of responsibility to produce something even better. It wasn’t so much the telling of the story of Summer at Skylark Farm that was tough, more the fact that it was my second book.
Do you have a favourite scene from this book? What is it and why?
I have a few favourite scenes but I think top of my list would have to be those spent at the funfair. You can’t beat the excitement, noise and sickly treats that come with a trip to the fair!
The village where I live is lucky enough to have an annual visit from a touring fair. It arrives under cover of darkness, spends a day setting up under the watchful gaze of the children and adults who pass by on their way to and from the village centre and then treats us to three heady nights of noise and excitement before disappearing again.
It isn’t particularly large but it is always busy and everyone views its visit as the start of the summer. The children at the school where I work always find it hilarious to watch me trying to control a dodgem car or hang on to my dignity as I am thrown high into the air in a rattling carriage!
Who is your favourite author? Why?
I absolutely adore Milly Johnson or Dame Milly Johnson as she is known in our house. Her writing reads effortlessly and she has such a strong voice. It is impossible to read any of her books without laughing and crying in equal measure and thanks to A Spring Affair my house is far less cluttered than it used to be. Fans of the book will know exactly why!
Have they influenced the way you write?
Milly has had a huge influence on my writing career. When I was offered my initial book deal I couldn’t believe that I was going to be sharing the same publisher as her. The fact that I happened to meet her on the very same day sent me into a total Fangirl Meltdown but I’ve calmed down since then and have been lucky enough to spend time in her company, ask her questions and have the benefit of not only her wit but also her wonderful advice. She is one of the most giving authors I know and I love her to bits.
What do you love about writing?
Everything. I know that’s probably a cliché but it is absolutely true. I love planning and plotting, editing and polishing. The whole process is exhilarating and challenging and every bit as absorbing as I always dreamt it would be.
Is there anything you hate about writing?
Do you have a favourite childhood/teen story/novel?
When I was very small I used to love Enid Blyton. I knew chunks of The Wishing Chair and The Magic Faraway Tree by heart. As a teenager I fell in love with E M Forster, to such as extent that I even wrote my thesis about him at university. A Room With a View is my absolute favourite of his novels.
My entire life revolves around an obsessive passion for writing, books and reading and I consider myself all the richer for it.
Thank you so much for popping by to read my post. I wish you all a sun-filled summer and I do hope that if you get the chance to escape to the country for a few days you grab it with both hands!
Heidi xSummer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain
Also by this author: Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market, Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square, Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland
Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 2nd June 2016
Amazon Kindle, Audible
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