Thursday, 14 May 2015

Q&A with Heidi Swain

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Hello Simona. Thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your fabulous blog.

Did you always dream of being a writer?

Yes. To be honest I never wanted to be anything else. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I do wish I’d plucked up the courage to take my writing seriously sooner.

Your debut novel The Cherry Tree Cafe is published July 16th, what is it about?

The novel is all about lovely Lizzie Dixon and how her life is transformed by moving to The Cherry Tree Cafe.
When the novel begins her world has fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for, she is unceremoniously dumped and her job is about to go the same way. She has only one option: to go back home to the small town she grew up in and try to start again.

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

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

Readers can expect a healthy dose of tea, cake and crafting!

What was your inspiration for the book?

I am always inspired to write about things I love and I’m passionate about cakes and crafts. The main setting for the novel, The Cherry Tree Café, landed fully formed in my mind. The kettle was already boiling, there were a batch of cupcakes on the counter and I just knew the place had a story to tell.

Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Flame haired Lizzie Dixon has impeccable taste and a quirky vintage style that has made her such fun to work with. Her sewing skills far outstrip mine and I have great admiration for her resilience.
Lizzie’s best friend since childhood is Jemma. She is a local baking legend and her life is totally different to Lizzie’s. However, when the chips are down and the pair need a helping hand they are always there for each other.

Where and when do you write your stories?

When I’m seriously looking to up the word count I can be found at the head of the dining table in the sitting room. We moved house last May and although the table is now in the sitting room rather than the kitchen, my position is exactly the same. This was never a conscious decision, more where my brain decided I work best.
Planning and plotting and, if I’m really up against it time wise, working on the wip, happens everywhere. I quite often write longhand in my car during my lunch hour then type up in the evenings.
I’m lucky enough to have two ‘days off’ during the week and I try to keep those as designated writing days. However, if I’m working on a first draft I try to write every day to keep the momentum going even if I only manage a few sentences. I find it keeps the story fresh in my mind and flowing.

What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

Read. Predictable for an author I know, but when it comes to words I just can’t get enough!
I also love to bake and, since writing The Cherry Tree Café and watching The Sewing Bee, I’ve been trying to up my craft production as well.
I’m not very good at sitting still so when I’m watching television or listening to music I’ll still have something else on the go, even if it is only Twitter or Facebook.
Can you tell us a little about your road to being a published author?

As I mentioned earlier it took me a long time to pluck up the courage to take my writing seriously. I’d taken a couple of creative writing courses, written a variety of short stories for an online short story community and started blogging before I embarked upon my first novel.
The Cherry Tree Café was my second novel and I knew even before I’d finished it that, one way or another, it was going to be my first published novel. Last year, not long after I’d finished editing the manuscript on the advice of the RNA New Writers Scheme I discovered that Books and The City were having an open call for submissions on July 15th and the rest, as they say, is history!

If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

Definitely Lizzie Dixon. She’s flame haired, with an immense sense of style, a great little business and a cracking place to live and don’t forget she has access to an endless supply of cake. Who wouldn’t want to trade?

What books have most influenced your life?

This is a really tricky question and I’ve spent considerable time mulling it over. The only answer I feel I can really give is that the books that have perhaps influenced me most are those that I have read again and again. Miss Read has an entire shelf on the bookcase and A Village Affair and The Rector’s Wife by Joanna Trollope are books I revisit time and time again so I am going to go with those.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a couple of things at the moment. My next novel is currently ready to be edited and I’m starting my third. Actually, I had already started my third but my main character kept prodding me on the shoulder and insisting that I’d put her in the wrong story.
It was hugely inconvenient, but she was right of course. I eventually stopped typing and listened to what she was trying to tell me and before I knew it I had four novels lined up waiting to be planned! Consequently I’m making lots of longhand notes now and getting ready to make a start (again), on Novel Number 3.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I’m not sure I can pin it down to just one thing. I love those moments when the characters begin to tell the story for themselves, when I visualise the perfect setting, when I’m ironing and a plot twist or solution to a problem pops into my head, but perhaps most of all I enjoy that moment when I read the complete novel and it no longer feels like something I’ve created. The story has always existed; I’ve simply recorded it for prosperity.

What does your perfect day look like?

I guess it would incorporate all of my favourite things. The sun would be shining of course, but it wouldn’t be too hot. There’d be time to bake, drink tea, eat cake and read a book after a couple of hours gardening.
In a former life I was a garden designer and my husband was a Head Gardener for the National Trust for Scotland. When we moved house last year we left behind a fabulous garden and inherited well, nothing beyond a patch of grass and a broken fence really. We’re starting from scratch and as much as I miss my little garden, I’m very much looking forward to creating a new one.

Imagine The Cherry Tree Café would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

Another tricky question. My daughter suggested Emma Stone would make a great Lizzie Dixon and I think she could be right. In my mind I have such a clear vision of what everyone looks like I find it hard to visualise them as someone else. However, should Hollywood happen to be reading this, please be assured I am always open to suggestions!

You have a blog, what do you blog about?

Mostly I blog about my writing. I now have the thrill of including any publishing news as well as progress on the wip and I always include an image of my current read. Increasingly I’m featuring other authors and their work and in turn finding myself putting in an appearance on other blogs, such as yours, which is always great fun.
At Christmas I blogged about my seasonal bakes and I’m considering including some of my craft projects in the run up to publication but, as with so many things, that will come down to finding a few more hours in the week!

Coffee or tea?

Tea. I adore the smell of coffee but never drink it.

Paperback or e-reader?

Both, although more often than not I read on my e-reader now so as not to keep my dearly beloved awake!

Mountains or the sea?


Summer or winter?


Sweet or salty?

A couple of years ago I would have said salty without hesitation but something seems to have happened to my teeth since I turned 40, they’ve got decidedly sweeter!

About the author

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 odd 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 Chery Tree Café, was accepted as her debut novel by Simon and Schuster.

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

The Cherry Tree Café - the blurb:

Cupcakes, crafting and love at The Cherry Tree Cafe...
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 cafe 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 Cafe is a coffee-break treat.


No comments:

Post a Comment