Tonight I am thrilled to be joined by one of my favourite romance authors and fellow RNA member…. Heidi Swain.
Heidi, it is such a pleasure to welcome you to the blog, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Good evening Julie, it’s absolutely lovely to be here with you in the virtual bar tonight. I’m going to have a delicious rhubarb gin with plenty of ice and a fresh strawberry or two.
Yum! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I would love to take you to The Ivy Norwich Brasserie. The food is great and the glasses are very large! The setting is sumptuous too so we could settle in for a lovely long chat.
Sounds perfect. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Our companions for this evening are Freddie Mercury and Margaret Rutherford. Both great entertainers so there won’t be a dull moment, even if we start to flag!
Fab duo! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’m really busy right now. I thought lockdown would give me lots of downtime, but it hasn’t materialized yet! I’ve literally just finished putting the finishing touches on my October release, The Winter Garden, and I’m getting ready to start writing the first draft of the summer 2021 book. I’m also promoting The Secret Seaside Escape which published in April and is proving very popular. There’s never been a better time to have a book with the word ‘escape’ in the title.
I’m always hoping the books will go straight to my readers hearts, so fingers crossed!
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Professionally, my proudest moment so far has been reaching number 5 on The Sunday Times Bestseller list. On a more personal level, I feel proud every time a reader gets in touch to tell me they have in some way connected with my books. I’ve received some truly tear inducing emails and messages in the last five years.
The biggest challenge is organizing my life so I can hit my deadlines. Writing two books a year – one summer, one winter – is a huge challenge in itself and I’m constantly aware of the calendar. That said, I thrive under pressure, so I wouldn’t change it.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
I’m always striving to improve my story telling and make each new book better than the last, so that’s something I’m constantly aiming to achieve. I would also love to see my name on that Sunday Times Bestseller list again!
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
Right now, I’m working on two things – putting The Winter Garden to bed and diving into the next book.
The planning for the summer 2021 book is almost complete and I need to start getting the words down soon as the first draft deadline is September. Writing the first draft is always my favourite part of the process. Moving the story from my head to the screen and seeing the characters come to life and take over is heady and exciting stuff!
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I absolutely love Wells Next the Sea on the Norfolk coast. It’s a place I’ve visited since I was very young and I had great plans to take publication promo pics for The Secret Seaside Escape there. Unfortunately, lockdown prevented that, but I’m still planning to get there at some point and take a few snaps. I want to show everyone one of the places which inspired me to create Wynmouth.
Santorini is also on my list, but not during the summer. I’m not a fan of soaring temperatures, so a trip there in October would be lovely, when it is neither too hot nor too crowded. My daughter and I would quite happily fling ourselves around Mamma Mia style!
Santorini is near the top of my busked list. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I have four tattoos. Lots of people know about three of them, but the fourth is often overlooked, even though it isn’t hidden.
I’ll have to see if I can spot it next time we meet in person! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
I’ve been reading quite a lot during lockdown and a stand out favourite has been Escape to The French Farmhouse, by Jo Thomas. The setting is stunning and the foodie descriptions are mouthwatering. You’ll love it!
Can Del find her recipe for happiness?
Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie.
Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?
I love Jo’s books, so I can’t wait to read this one. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
To be honest, I never drink enough to induce a hangover. When I’ve had a great night out, like this, I don’t want anything marring the memory of it. However, if I was feeling a little worse for wear, I’d make sure I was hydrated, have some painkillers to hand and bacon in the fridge. There’s nothing like a bacon sandwich to settle the stomach.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Saturday in the city would be good – some retail therapy, followed by a lazy lunch and a trip to the cinema or museum. Sunday would be very relaxed – breakfast in bed, reading in the sunshine, a little light (very light) gardening and possibly another rhubarb gin…
That sounds just perfect. Thank you for joining me, Heidi, look forward to the next time we can meet at an RNA event.
Heidi’s latest book, The Secret Seaside Escape, is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.
Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.
With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .
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 vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.
Her debut novel, The Chery Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further nine books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently looking forward to the release of her 2020 Christmas title, The Winter Garden.
Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm.
Next week I will be joined by author, Jane Browne, so do please join us then.