What was the best thing about being a Learning Support Assistant?
I worked as a teaching assistant for children with special needs for ten wonderful years and there were so many things I loved about the job. I looked after some children with some very complex and challenging physical needs and it was wonderful knowing that I was enabling them to access education in a mainstream school. I undertook training for things that you would never associate with a TA role and it was hugely rewarding. Every year I also gave specific reading and writing support. Seeing the students thrive in those groups, become more confident readers and start to enjoy their writing was definitely one of my favourite things. The fun times were fabulous too – school plays, special assemblies and trips out were great and of course, the run up to Christmas when the post box comes out was always very special.
Your favourite holiday destination and why?
I’m not a well-travelled soul – something I intend to rectify over the next few years – but there is one destination which has a very special place in my heart and that’s the Lake District. I absolutely love the dramatic landscape of hills, water and an abundance of trees. I’ve visited a few times, the first was a camping trip with my mum, godmother, her son and one of his friends. It was in 1981 (I know this because Raiders of the Lost Ark was in the cinema and one of the boys had invested in a whip. Don’t ask!) so I was just nine years old. There’s definitely something wonderful that happens when you visit somewhere at such an impressionable age. I believe it forms an attachment and you’ll love the destination forever. Well, I know that’s what happened to me.
Which character from your books is most like you?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I think I put a little bit of myself into all of my characters. I might be able to do a job I’ve given one of them, like Hattie in The Christmas Wish List or I might wish I could craft or bake like Lizzie and Jemma in The Cherry Tree Café. In some ways, I think I’m like them all. Sorry!
Who are your ideal dinner / buffet guests choose from Authors, Singers and Actors (past or present)
So hard to choose! Ok… I’m going to invite Prince and Freddie Mercury as I’m sure they’ll entertain us if the conversation starts to die down. Although, with Margaret Rutherford, Miriam Margolyes and Alan Rickman on the guest list, it might not. And of course, I simply have to have Milly Johnson, Trisha Ashley, Elly Griffiths, Charles Dickens and E.M. Forster too, but I promise we won’t talk books all night!
Name some of your fan girl moments
I’ve been fortunate to have quite a few!
An absolute highlight for me has been getting to know Dame (she should be) Milly Johnson. We share the same publisher and Milly was at Simon and Schuster on the day when I was offered my very first deal. (The photo I’ve included was taken that day). She tucked me under her wing and made me feel at home and she’s been doing it ever since. Generous to a fault and full of wisdom and kind words, she’s the best! I’m also a huge Trisha Ashley fan. I have all of her books in all available formats and it was a dream come true to travel to Waterstones in Liverpool and do an event with her. I think I spent more time listening to her answers to Juliet Greenwood’s questions than I did thinking up my own! And of course, I have to mention meeting Jilly Cooper! She was awarded the lifetime achievement award at the RoNA’s the year Cuckoo Cottage was nominated. I plucked up the courage to talk to her after the ceremony and told her how we had one copy of Riders in the convent school where I was weekly boarder and we used to pass the book around after lights out. She loved that!
You buy Heidi’s new book here. Underneath the Christmas Tree https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08QQL2STV/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_S0FG9BSDH330A2RN1K24
You can find our book club here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/876922556116687/?ref=share