A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…. Heidi Swain by SJV
So, what does an author do?
Writes the very best books they can!
Is there such a thing as a typical day, and if so what does it look like?
Not really. I have a number of different routines during the working week, depending on whether or not I’m heading off to the day job, but they are all similar in that they are fairly structured.
A designated writing day kicks off at 8 after I’ve dealt with anything domestic and fiddled about on social media. Then I’ll write or edit until 12.30. Occasionally I’ll dip back in again during the afternoon but I mostly work on research, planning, blog posts and correspondence until the end of the day.
However, when it comes to writing a first draft that all goes out of the window. I’ll start around 5.30 in the morning and keep going until someone pulls the pencil or unplugs the keyboard. You just have to give it your all until you’ve got the words down!
Overall I’ve found every stage of writing a book requires a different routine, but maybe that’s just me.
For the record, if I was a budding debut author, faced with the dreaded blank first page, what would be your top tip to bestseller success?
I would say… dive in, write the story you love, the one you’ve been carrying around in your heart, and do not, under any circumstances, start editing until you’ve typed The End. You might have written the worst opening line in the history of the world on that dreaded first blank page but write it quickly and move on. You can fix it later. You can fix it all later.
We’re obsessed with other people’s TBR piles, how high is yours? And do you have 2, one for work books and one for pleasure books?
I only have one TBR pile but it’s completely out of control, especially now lovely publishers send me books to read. Thinking about it, my Kindle is just as stuffed as the bookshelves. I recently registered with NetGalley and my self-control has gone completely out of the window.
Have you got a best and worst part of the job?
I love it all! Taking the seed of an idea and nurturing it until the book hits the shelves is an absolute joy. I love the first draft highs and the editing challenges, the anticipation of seeing the cover, getting stuck into the promo and that first glimpse of the book in someone else’s hands. There are far too many stand-out ‘bests’ to list and every time I think it can’t get any better, it does.
Even a bad review can be a ‘best’ bit. Not the one star ‘I couldn’t find it on my e-reader’ or the ‘I only like thrillers so this was a bit light for me’ but the really constructive ones that pull out something I can work on. Not that I relish less than glowing reviews of course, but if we aren’t learning as we go along then what’s the point?
Is there an author you’d sell a limb to meet?
I wouldn’t mind sharing a vanilla slice with JK Rowling and of course a chat with Milly J is always an education. She exudes wisdom. She really should be a Dame you know. She is in our house.
What book do you most recommend to others?
Can I swap ‘book’ for ‘books’ because picking one is simply too tough. If anyone asks me for a recommendation I steer them off towards either Dame Milly, Trisha Ashley or Carole Matthews. That said, my Best Book Ever is still Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. It takes a lot to move me to tears but she managed it.
And lastly our quick fire trivia round…
Thing you’d never leave home without? My phone. I know you’d expect an author to say a notebook and a good read but I can manage both on my phone AND take plenty of pics for Instagram. Win, win.
Favourite place to read? Snuggled up in bed with a cup of tea.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? This is a tricky one. I’ll stick to the UK but I want somewhere buried deep in the British countryside surrounded by hens that’s also within easy reach of London and all the wonderful events I get invited to. Answers on a postcard please…
What’s the secret to success? Working hard and never giving up on your dreams.
What’s on your current reading pile? I’m currently reading Milly’s latest but I also have Paige Toon lined up (The Last Piece of My Heart), Christie Barlow (Kitty’s Countryside Dream) and Mandy Baggot (Single for the Summer). I could go on. And on. And on.
Staying in or Going out? Staying in, with a good book of course!
What’s your Signature dish? Calorific creamy risotto with plenty of wine and cheese. This is exactly while I’ll never be a size 10 again, isn’t it?
Beach break or city break? City break. Somewhere with plenty of culture and a wonderful café to sit in and watch the world go by.
Favourite Literary Hero? Molly Weasley
Famous last words? I know my daughter will tease me for sounding like I’m endorsing a famous brand, but ‘just do it,’ suits me just fine.
Find out more about Heidi Swain here.