Today we add a little
bit of tinsel to the blog as we welcome Heidi Swain to talk about her
experience of writing for the festive market.
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 feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.
Her
debut novel, The Chery 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 celebrating 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.
Over to you Heidi…
When
I set out to pursue my dream of becoming a published author there were a few
goals I hoped to achieve. Seeing my books in a library, on the supermarket
shelves, in the Bookseller and with an Amazon bestseller flag were a few, but
the epitome for me was the opportunity to write a book specifically for the
Christmas market.
With
two books under my belt I was delighted when the chance came along and I
grabbed the opportunity to start planning with both hands, but not before I had
chatted at length to fellow authors, friends and a lot of readers.
The
first thing I realised was that writing a Christmas book came with a heavy
weight of what I call Reader Responsibility. That same responsibility is present
at any time of year. For example, if an author has a book out during the summer
and there’s a chance that it will be given the much coveted Holiday Read spot
and packed along with the sarong and sunblock, that itself produces a pressure
to tick certain boxes.
However,
I soon became aware that throwing the word ‘Christmas’ into the mix was enough
to crank that level of responsibility up tenfold. Not only because the book is being
published at ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but also because there’s the
possibility, if the price is right (and let’s face it, with supermarket promos
it more often than not is), that it will be deemed special enough to be given
away as a present.
I
hadn’t undertaken many pre-planning conversations before a common theme started
to emerge. Lots of people objected to books which had ‘Christmas’ in the title,
when they realised, just a few pages in, that the festive flourishes were going
to be lacking and the big day itself barely mentioned, let alone made a feature
of. If the cover was shiny, sparkly, glossy and glittery, the readers expected,
desired, hoped for snow, sleigh rides and Santa himself and if they didn’t get
it they felt let down. Many said they felt cheated and that the book which had disappointed
them had only included ‘Christmas’ in the title as a way to increase sales.
And
so, with this in mind, I made it my mission to not only write an interesting
and plot driven book, but one which also centred around the snowy season and
held celebrating Christmas as its heart. Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the
Christmas Market was crammed full of festive makes, bakes, markets, workshops
and gifts, but did my plan work? If the reviews and sales were anything to go
by, yes it did and the fact that my editor called early on in the New Year to
ask if I felt that Wynbridge had more winter cheer to offer was proof enough
for me.
Second
time around and I’ve written a book I think I love more than any of the others,
but that could be simply because it is the current book on the shelves and I
have developed a tendency to say that every publication day. However, Sleigh
Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair delivers everything the title
promises, along with a Solstice celebration, romantic encounters under the
stars and more than the average number of trees.
The
book has a new setting, Wynthorpe Hall, and a brand new set of characters to
get to know, but one thing they have in common with their neighbours in town is
that they love Christmas and know how to celebrate it in style. And, as if that
wasn’t enough to cheer about, there’s the added excitement that my readers have
also taken it to their hearts and turned me into a Sunday Times Best-selling
Author!
I’m
immensely proud to have reached another of my goals and I hope that if you have
a festive book out this year then you’ve enjoyed the experience of writing it
as much as I have.
Wishing
you all a very merry Christmas and a productive New Year!
Heidi
x
Thank you for that
Heidi and a very merry Christmas to you too!
When
Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the
outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond
all recognition.
A
confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find
herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son
Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal
feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.
Jamie,
struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna
– she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps
her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna,
or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?
Join
Anna for a festive journey that is festooned with sleigh rides and silver bells
and help her discover her happy ever after.
Silver
Bells and Sleigh Rides is available
now
.
You
can find out more about Heidi and her writing on her website, facebook, or by
following her on twitter
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