We recently had the time to sit down for a chat with debut author Viginia Heath. Read on to learn about her new book, what inspires her and finding the time to write.
What inspired you to write your first book, The Despicable Rogue?
I have always written but as a teacher and Head of Department I never had the free time to really focus on it. So I decided to spend a year working as a substitute teacher so I could write my submission for Mills & Boon. As soon as That Despicable Rogue was accepted for publication I gave up teaching to become a writer full time. I have now written another 3 more books.
So what’s your writing process like now – do you have a particular time of day you like to write?
As it’s my full time job, I treat it exactly as I would any working day and make sure I’m at my desk by 9am. I take breaks during the day when I need them and work until between 4 and 6 pm. After that it’s like I’ve left the office – my evenings are free time; so are the weekends. Most days I manage to write around 3000 words.
How about editing – do you work on that as you go along, or do you like to get a rough draft down first?
I find that if I look back at everything I’ve written, I’ll keep tweaking things and making little changes without going forward. So instead I read back over what I wrote the previous day and make some small changes to that, then get on with writing new stuff. I do quite often have a mid-book crisis though, where I feel like it’s going wrong or I don’t know what to write next and at that point I’ll read through the whole thing from the beginning – which usually reassures me I’m on the right track!
You’re a former history teacher and have written history textbooks – did that affect your choice to write Historical romance and influence the time period you chose to write in?
Not really – I’ve always been interested in many different periods in history. My Mills & Boon books are set in the regency period, but my textbooks were about the war years! I’ve always been very interested in the Victorian period though so there’s a bit more of a cultural overlap there.
Do you ever travel for research for your books? Have you visited anywhere interesting looking for inspiration?
I’ve got an English Heritage membership and my husband and kids have been dragged to a lot of those sites, which I enjoy visiting. It’s a hobby though, something I’ve always done, rather than specifically as research for my books. I did just visit Chatsworth House, which is used as Pemberley in the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice TV series and found myself humming bits of the theme as I wandered around.
What is your favourite thing about your hero/heroine? What do you think readers will like about them?
Ross, the hero, has dragged himself up from nothing to become something. He’s not the typical Historical romance hero, not being an aristocrat (although he does rub shoulders with them). He’s also very attractive (of course!) – in my head I picture Aidan Turner ‘playing’ him. Hannah, the heroine, begins the story set on revenge but finds she’s too soft hearted to carry it through – her view of herself is not quite who she really is. Also, I think readers will love the Pond Scene…
I’m very intrigued by this Pond Scene! We’ll all have to read the book to find out what that is. Do any of the characters from your first book have cameos in your later books, which come out towards the end of the year?
No, each book stands alone, although I have thought about writing linked stories at some point, maybe a quartet about four brothers.
We’ll look forward to seeing what happens in the future then! Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write! Don’t just think that you’d like to write a book, or talk on social media about writing – get on and do it!
Thanks very much for talking to us, Virginia! It’s been lovely to meet you. If you’re intrigued by the sound of Virginia’s books, her first novel, That Despicable Rogue, is available now on our website!