Q&A with Heather Hill

 Heather Hill ICLMWe put some questions to Heather Hill, author of The New Mrs D, to find out her writing habits, publication journey, and the inspiration behind her novels…

What inspires you to write?

I tend to carry a notebook around with me for those moments when ‘lightening strikes’. But I should warn anyone that knows me well, I listen to conversations and find people from all walks of life fascinating. It is interesting to watch how very different personalities interact with each other and it almost always informs my writing. The comedy is harder because I have to be in a good mood to write it well, and as a mum of five with everyday worries and clashing priorities, I can have difficulty finding my funny bone under all the ironing. When that happens, I steal some time out to be alone, put on my headphones and listen to my favourite, most upbeat music and hey presto! My mood is lifted and the funny stuff comes back. Watching and reading comedies help too. I need to be smiling to write comedy and I’m not often doing that when balancing the family budget or changing my grandson’s stinky nappies!

Which of your novels did you enjoy writing most, and why?

I have only completed one, ‘The New Mrs D’ but I confess that my work in progress is providing more enjoyment for me than that one. I think it’s because it’s not my first and I feel a little bit more confident in my writing. Last time, I spent a lot of days stuck because I was trying too hard to make my first draft perfect. It stalled me and my creativity was stifled. But I now know that nobody’s first draft is perfect, the magic happens in the edits.

Describe your journey from first draft to publication.

Boy, it’s been a journey indeed. I was very lucky in that it took only six weeks for me to find an agent, but then within a few months my novel was rejected by no less than thirteen major publishing houses. It was a tough time because I really didn’t know what to do next, especially as many editors were of the opinion that its controversial subject matter, porn addiction in relationships, deemed it unmarketable. I then self-published and the ebook was downloaded over 32,000 times and received mostly glowing reviews which was when a small press publisher, Fledgling Press, stepped in and acquired the rights.

Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?

It’s strange but when I begin writing a new character they don’t purposely evolve from real or fictional people I am familiar with. I don’t watch much regular TV but I love stories and so I do watch rather a lot of films and some of the characters have ended up being from there. But, usually I find when I start writing a new character they turn into someone I know from a film or real life after I’ve started writing them. Their personalities just seem to develop by themselves and suddenly, I become reminded of someone.

When did you first start reading and writing chick-lit?

When I began writing I wasn’t thinking of anything for the chick lit genre, I was writing a comedy. I wasn’t really familiar with chick lit except for the movies I’d seen adapted from books and hadn’t read any! When it became apparent this was the genre my work fell in to it was then I began to dip my nose in to many of the books. So, you can say I have only been a reader of the genre for about two years.

Who are your three favourite chick-lit characters?

I loved Holly from PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, Laney Cochrane from Moment of Truth by Shari Low and Kate Reddy from I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson – all busy, strong minded women who came back from adversity to realise their potential and their stories didn’t necessarily revolve around getting their man at the end.

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