Wishing a big congratulations to Heidi-Jo Swain in the wake of her debut novel The Cherry Tree Cafe! I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today to celebrate her novel. I’m sure you will enjoy the Q&A as much as I did. Read on to discover fabulous tidbits about Heidi, from what inspired her to write her debut novel, what you would find if you took a peek in her handbag, to my favorite part of the interview; the best advice she ever received from her fellow author Mandy Baggot! When you’re done learning about Heidi, don’t forget to go check out her novel and get yourself a copy!!
The Cherry Tree Cafe by Heidi-Jo Swain
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.
Interview with Author Heidi-Jo Swain
Hello, thank you so much for inviting me to feature on your lovely blog.
I’m a contemporary romance fiction author, a lover of Galaxy bars, ready salted crisps, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz who is lucky enough to live in a very pretty part of south Norfolk with my family and a mischievous cat named Storm.
2. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest novel and the inspiration behind it?
My debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café, centers around the life of lovely Lizzie Dixon who, having had her heart broken, moves back to her hometown where she joins forces with her best friend Jemma and opens The Cherry Tree Café.
As far as inspiration goes I’m a huge fan of crafts, an even bigger one of cake and something of a sucker for a love story, so putting the three together was an absolute joy!
3. How long did it take you to write The Cherry Tree Cafe? What is your writing process like?
To be completely honest, I can’t remember how long it took me to write The Cherry Tree, but I would guess around six to eight months.
I like to have a pretty good idea of the entire plot before I begin writing a novel but more often than not the characters take over so I’m always open to making changes along the way!
I tend to write quite quickly and a recent change to my writing process has helped speed up the development of a first draft considerably. I write longhand on the days I’m working now and type up what I’ve written in the evenings. I’m also lucky enough to have a couple of designated writing days during the week (well, that’s the theory) and if possible I sit at the keyboard all day then.
4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on my next novel… Not very forthcoming but I’m sworn to secrecy. Sorry!
5. What is your favorite thing about writing romance novels?
To me, writing is a complete indulgence. I only write about settings I would love to visit, or even better, live in, and characters who I wouldn’t mind swapping places with for a day or so. The old adage; write what you love and love what you write certainly applies here.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I am very blessed to have such a wonderful family and home, but every day my writing gives me the opportunity to step off my own page and onto someone else’s and I love that.
6. What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I’m going to go with writing advice here, for obvious reasons and the best piece of wisdom I ever received was a timely reminder from my bacon loving pal Mandy Baggot.
She told me, when I was trying to decide what to do with my writing, where to submit and so on, that she didn’t like having all her literary eggs in one basket and that I needed to remember that the journey I am on, is my own.
Those words gave me some perspective and reminded me that there actually are no rules, that I didn’t have to wait around for someone else to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, that if I wanted to I could make the decisions and make things happen for myself.
So that’s what I did.
7. What kind of environment do you write in?
When I’m at the keyboard I always sit in the same position at the dining table however, writing longhand can happen anywhere. To be honest, if I’m writing, I’m writing and nothing distracts me except for cake of course.
Cake aside, this shift to longhand has been an absolute blessing because if I have paper and a pen I can write anywhere. There are no boundaries.
8. Is there one book that stands out in your mind that you wish you’d written?
Letters to The Lost by Iona Grey. Without a doubt simply the best book ever. Iona and I share the same publisher and having met her I can tell you she’s absolutely gorgeous, completely down to earth and a thoroughly lovely lady. This of course does nothing to allay the book envy…
9. What are the things you can’t live without in your kitchen?
In the kitchen I couldn’t live without my vintage glasses and tins, my Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston bits and pieces, the length of floral bunting my mum made and all the deer themed ornaments from my Nanna.
Oh, was I supposed to include a gadget or two here? Sorry, I’m all about the pretty!
10. What would we find if we looked in your handbag right now?
Oh I love my current bag. It’s a cross body blue and white polka dot beauty from CK that I found in a charity shop for around £10! I know!
Ok focus… Inside you would find my purse (empty), a very red lipstick, lip balm, business cards, notepad, pen, painkillers, a mirror and a very pretty purse I received in a Happy Mail parcel with the words ‘Anything Is Possible’ written across the front.
Thank you so much for being on the blog today and your fabulous answers! Wishing you the best of luck with your new release and we can’t wait to find out more about your next novel that’s in the works!