It’s a great pleasure to welcome Heidi-Jo Swain back to the blog today. Heidi-Jo first joined us last year and a huge amount has happened to her since then. I’ll hand over to Heidi-Jo to tell you all about it…
A lot has happened to you since you joined us on the blog last year. Can you tell us about it and how it all happened?
To be honest, I can’t believe just how much has happened myself. Looking back through the archives I can see that when I first visited I had just submitted The Cherry Tree Café to Books and The City as my #oneday submission and had everything crossed that the Team would enjoy reading it as much as I had enjoyed writing it!
Fortunately they did and after a couple of visits to Simon and Schuster I was offered an e-book deal for two books just in time for Christmas. Quite literally the best present ever! The novel was published in July this year, almost a year to the day that I sent off my submission.
How are you feeling about your second novel? Is it linked to your first book? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m absolutely thrilled with the second novel. My editor has described it as WONDERFUL and yes, she did write in caps so I was jump up and down excited that day. I can’t tell you too much about it just yet, however I can confirm that Wynbridge and The Cherry Tree Café still feature and a couple of familiar faces can be found gracing a few of the pages. That said it isn’t a sequel so you don’t have to have read the first to enjoy the second. Not that I’m objecting if you did of course!
What’s the best thing that’s happened since The Cherry Tree Cafe was published?
That’s a tough question to answer because so many fabulous things have happened. The spring blogger evening with Milly Johnson et al, the launch party in Arts Desire, (a local crafting café), the newspaper article and the radio interview, not forgetting the forthcoming reading and Q and A event in Norwich…
Of course all that glamour and excitement has been fabulous and I can’t wait to plan it all again for the second novel, but thinking about it, the cherry on the cupcake has been reading reviews and receiving messages from readers who have chosen my little book for their holiday or weekend read and then told the world just how much they enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ll even get over the thrill of that.
Have you ever owned a cafe? Would you like to?
No I haven’t and to be honest I think I’m far better at consuming tea and cake than baking and serving it. Bunting construction a la Lizzie Dixon is more my style! Although saying that, my Vicky sponge always goes down a storm.
We know that you put The Cherry Tree Cafe on Wattpad before it was published. Why did you do that and do you feel it was a benefit?
Uploading the first few chapters of the novel on to Wattpad was a huge moment for me. It was the first step along the path to sharing my work with the world and feeling brave enough to hear what readers really thought about it.
Although the numbers of reads weren’t through the roof I made some great author chums who are still friends today and I also gained the confidence to push ahead and seek out a publisher. So yes, it was beneficial.
You have a strong social media presence. How important do you think that is and how would you recommend new writers go about building theirs?
I think it is hugely important to have a strong media presence. Fortunately I’m a natural chatterbox so getting involved with readers, authors, in fact anyone online, is an absolute joy. I’ve discovered that people want to know a bit about the person behind the book jacket and I love that.
With regards to building media presence I would say don’t be ‘all about the books’. Chat, interact, share stupid cat photos and above all else, remember your manners. If someone bothers to comment, share or re-tweet then say thank you and return the favour.
We know you enjoy crafts and baking as well as your day job. How do you find time to fit writing in?
Well, since my last visit I’ve had to adapt my writing routine to fit in with the added demands of being a published author. I now write longhand before work, during my lunch hour and occasionally (although not as often as I would like), in the evenings. I type up what I have written on my specific ‘writing days’ and sometimes at the weekends depending on what else I have to do. Particularly when I’m writing a first draft putting pen to paper has to become a priority and writing every day helps keep the words flowing.
Thank you so much for inviting me back. I hope you have our little catch up as much as I have! H x
Read the blurb for The Cherry Tree Cafe:
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.
Heidi Swain’s Bio
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 Chery Tree Café, is her debut 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.
You can find out more about Heidi-Jo and The Cherry Tree Cafe by checking out the following links:
Cherry Tree Café Links: