Posted in Writing

Today Tuesday Talk chats to author Heidi -Jo Swain about her writing journey, tips for newbie authors and whether she’s a beach or city girl…

Good morning Heidi and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hello Jo. Thank you so much for inviting me to come over and chat. It is lovely to be here. I am an author of commercial fiction, writing for Simon and Schuster and represented by lovely Amanda Preston from LBA. I live in beautiful Norfolk with my family and a very quirky rescue cat called Storm.

How did your writing journey begin?

My journey began when I was in my teens, but I didn’t pluck up the courage to take my ambitions seriously until I was in my thirties. By then I’d reached the ‘it’s now or never’ point and decided that life was far too short not to follow my heart.
I enrolled on a couple of local creative writing courses and wrote short stories for an online community before taking the plunge and writing my first novel. I then joined the RNA New Writers Scheme and submitted The Cherry Tree Café to Books and The City (the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster) during their #OneDay call for submissions and now here we are almost six books down the line!

What inspired you to write your debut novel The Cherry Tree Café?

To be honest it was the burning ambition to be a published author that inspired me to write The Cherry Tree Café. It was my second novel and I knew that as I’d already written one, I could write another, only this one would be better. Much better, and thankfully the Books and The City Team loved it as much as I did.
With regards to plot and setting inspiration, I’m a huge fan of Miss Read and HE Bates and the opportunity to create a community filled with great characters and gorgeous locations that I could visit more than once was too tempting to resist. I absolutely love Wynbridge, even if it is fictional.

How much research is involved in your books?

That depends very much on what I’m writing about. If it’s something I have limited experience of I’ll go all out to make sure I have the right information, have taken the appropriate trip or spoken to the people in the know to make sure I have just the right amount of detail to hand without weighing the book down. If in doubt, check it out, would be my (rather corny) go-to phrase where research is concerned.

What advice would you give newbie writers?

I get asked this question a lot now and my answer is always the same – just get on with it!
I know that probably sounds blunt but so many people tell me they want to be an author but then add that they haven’t got time to write. I didn’t have oodles of free time when I had another job so I got up an hour earlier, I wrote during my lunchbreak and again in the evenings. If it’s something you really want to do, you’ll find a way and those snatched moments all up the word count.
And don’t wait for the perfect writing spot or for other commitments to magically melt into the background. I’m still perched on a corner of the dining table and I still have a family to look after. If you wait for the perfect moment, you’ll never publish anything. And that doesn’t just apply to writing, but to life in general.

Beach or City? Which holiday destination appeals to you most?

Definitely a City holiday for me. I would far rather explore a museum, gallery or library (or all three), than sit on a beach. I’m a real misery guts when it comes to heat so the summer we’ve had so far has suited me just fine!

And lastly, you’re one of the contestants in I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here. Which four famous people would you like as companions in the ‘jungle’ and why?

This is a tricky one. OK, Bear Grylls for obvious reasons, – as long as there’s no drinking of bodily fluids involved! A Peter Kay and Milly Johnson combo to keep me laughing and Tom Hardy to enhance the view. How does that sound?


Heidi Swain Author Bio

20170104_091654Although 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 feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.
Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015 (paperback June 2017) and Summer at Skylark Farm hit the shelves the following June. Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market was a hugely successful Christmas 2016 release and her fourth book, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was published in July 2017. She is currently preparing for her October 2017 Christmas release, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair.
Heidi lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.






Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage

When Lottie Foster’s grandmother’s best friend Gwen dies, she leaves Lottie her lovely home, Cuckoo Cottage.

Lottie loves the cottage but Matt, a charming local builder, points out that beneath its charm it is falling apart. Luckily he is always on hand to help with the problems that somehow seem to keep cropping up. But is he just a bit too good to be true? Certainly Will, Lottie’s closest neighbour, seems to think so.

Lottie plans to set up her own business renovating vintage caravans. She hasn’t told anyone about the project she has cooked up with Jemma from The Cherry Tree Café to repurpose Gwen’s old caravan and turn it into a gorgeous tearoom.

But before she can finally enjoy living with her legacy she must uncover who she can trust, and who to avoid. And with two men vying for her attention, will she also find love?


Cuckoo Cottage:

Posted in Writing

Today Tuesday Talk catches up with author Claire Douglas to chat about her journey to publication, dream holiday and her next writing project…

claire picGood morning Claire and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo. Thanks for having me. Well, I’m from a little town called Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, although as an adult I’ve moved around a lot. We moved to Bath five years ago. I’m married with two young(ish) children who keep me very busy when I’m not writing – particularly at this time of the year!

How did your writing journey begin?

I was a journalist for fifteen years – starting out in local newspapers and eventually writing true-life stories and health features for women’s magazines including Take-A-Break and Bella. I always wanted to write fiction though. I wrote my first novel at 24 and was rejected. Then I wrote three more and had more rejections, but also some encouraging comments. In 2013, I’d just started writing what would become “The Sisters”, when I saw Marie Claire magazine were holding a debut novel competition. The prize was a publishing deal with HarperCollins. I sent off the first three chapters and a synopsis and then put it out of my mind, not really believing anything would come of it. A few months later I received the surprising – and life changing – news that I’d won.

What was the inspiration behind the plot of Last Seen Alive?

I’ve always been interested in the house swap idea, although I’ve never done one myself, but have friends who have. And it got me thinking, what would happen if you were in someone else’s house and you found something that really freaked you out? And then knowing that those same people were in your house!

If money was no object where in the world would you like to visit and why?

Definitely Burma. My husband is half Burmese, although he was brought up in England and has never been there. His mum left the country when she was ten. My husband and I would both love to visit and for the children to see the place where their grandmother was from.

What’s next for you? Are you currently working on a new WIP? If so are you able to tell us anything about it?

I’m currently writing my fourth novel – another psychological suspense, although I’m still in the early stages. It’s a family who move to the Brecon Beacons to run a guest house. When the owner Kirsty’s cousin comes to stay it’s not long before she’s found murdered and suspicion falls on one of the other guests. But, of course, there is more to it than that … secrets, lies and past events come to light and Kirsty realises that nothing is as it seems.

And lastly, if you were planning a chill out few months on a desert island, what would your four must-haves be and why?

Ooh this is hard! I think I’d definitely need to bring a notepad and pen so I can write stories (is that classed as two things?) A book – maybe Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials because a) it’s three books in one and b) I’ve only read it once and I’d love to read it again. And tea bags. I couldn’t survive a few hours let alone months without some tea!



Claire Douglas always wanted to write novels and, after many years of trying to get published, her dream came true when she won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award in 2013 with THE SISTERS.

Her subsequent novels LOCAL GIRL MISSING and recently released LAST SEEN ALIVE are both Sunday Times top ten bestselelrs.

You can find Claire on Twitter at @DougieClaire or visit her Facebook page clairedouglasauthor.


Last seen alive 1


She can run
Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.

But she can’t hide
But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?

Because someone knows her secret
What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive . . . and what she did.

BUY LINKS:—last-seen-alive