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Writer Wednesday: 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 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 off bottle of fizz, she now writes contemporary fiction and enjoys the company of a whole host of feisty female characters.

She joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2014 and is now a full member. The manuscript she submitted for critique, The Cherry Tree Café, is her début novel published by Simon and Schuster in July 2015.

She lives in Norfolk with her wonderful husband, son and daughter and a mischievous cat called Storm.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
Starting with the tricky questions I see! I know this will probably sound like the worst cliché imaginable (and we all know we aren’t allowed to use those, right?), but I’ve never experienced that ‘I want to be a writer’ moment. I’ve always been a writer. To be honest it feels as if the decision was made for me and I just chose to accept it so the answer is, I don’t know why. Sorry.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you? 
Oh that’s much easier to answer and I bet it’s the same as practically every other author would give. Time, there simply isn’t enough of it! Family, work, running a home, wrangling a cat… they are all priorities and if you want to be a writer, you have to squeeze writing and all its associated baggage into that list as well. It is tough, but totally worth it.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
I love every part of the process but dreaming up settings such as The Cherry Tree Café is great fun and populating them with characters you’d love to be, or be friends with, is an added bonus. Writing a first draft is also thrilling…well, most of the time.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
That would have to be Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey. Iona and I share the same publisher and when I received an early copy of Letters I knew within a few pages that I was reading something quite extraordinary. The story is exquisite, painful, triumphant and in parts terrifying. The entire book is a masterclass in storytelling and Iona is a lovely, lovely lady.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
It was horrible seeing Lizzie Dixon so heartbroken so I suppose I should say her, but then what would have happened to Jemma, Ben and The Cherry Tree Café? No pain, no gain I guess. Sorry Lizzie!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Gosh, that’s tricky. I’m going to go with the first name I thought of and that was Molly Weasley from Harry Potter. We’d spend the day together at The Burrow drinking tea, eating cake, talking about family and looking around the house (this is before the Death Eaters have blown it to bits of course). The Burrow is quite simply my dream home.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I’m currently editing Novel Number 2 and am totally in love with the story. It is set on the outskirts of Wynbridge so readers can expect Lizzie and Jemma from the Cherry Tree to put in a couple of star appearances!

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Authors are a wonderfully supportive bunch and I have received so much wonderful advice. My own writing career really took off when Mandy Baggot told me to follow my own path and make it happen, rather than wait for the say-so from someone else. I became much more proactive after that. If I was going to offer advice of my own I would say make the decision to be an author and stick to it. Don’t stress about having no time, just take a good look at your life and find some! If you really want to be a writer, if there’s a burning desire in your heart to tell a story, you’ll find a way.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you. 
I have two ‘typical’ writing days. One involves getting up an hour earlier than I’d like so I can write before going to work. Then I write in my car during my lunch break and again in the evening, quite often typing up what I’ve written longhand during the day. The second, my ‘day-job free’ days should, in theory, be easier because I can commit long stretches of time to upping the word count. The trick is (and I don’t always manage it), not to become distracted by social media, Pinterest and the housework.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment? 
I have a few summer reads on my kindle carousel – Coming up Roses by Rachael Lucas, Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin and Bride Without A Groom by Amy Lynch are all clamouring for attention so it could be any one of those!

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Cupcakes, crafting and love at The Cherry Tree Café...

Lizzie Dixon's life feels as though it's fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. So, there's only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again.

Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little café and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie's sewing skills are just what she needs.

With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago...?

For everyone who loves settling down to watch Great British Bake-Off, the Great British Sewing Bee, or curling up to read Milly Johnson or Jenny Colgan, The Cherry Tree Café is a coffee-break treat.

Follow Heidi on Twitter | Buy The Cherry Tree Cafe on Amazon |
Visit her blog | Like her on Facebook

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