Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Guest Post: Heidi Swain: Feeling Festive in Nightingale Square

This week I'm thrilled to welcome Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain to my blog. Heidi is famous for her heart-warming, feel-good stories set in Norfolk and today she's going to tell us about her latest novel, The Winter Garden...

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for finding your way to this post and thank you to Louise for kindly offering me a spot on her blog. It’s now a week since
The Winter Garden was published and I thought it might be the ideal opportunity to share with you a little of the inspiration behind this first festive trip to Nightingale Square. 

As some of you probably already know, I write two books a year and have done practically since I was first published in 2015. Broadly speaking, one is a summer book and one is a winter, or Christmas book. When I settled down to plan the winter 2020 release, I glanced at my pile of books and realised that the four festive titles I had written so far were all set in the same place – the much-loved fictitious Fenland town of Wynbridge. 

Two things occurred to me as I admired the foil enhanced covers. Firstly, I realised that I would rather like to visit Wynbridge in the summer for a change (A Taste of Home set in the Fenland countryside will be released next April. Yay!) and secondly, I was pretty certain that the neighbours in Nightingale Square would very much like to show us how they prepare for and celebrate Christmas in the fine city of Norwich.


Much like moving to a brand-new setting when your readers are so invested in the familiar one, it was a scary prospect, changing the festive location, but one I was willing to embrace. The vibrant city of Norwich, the pretty Square with its central green, the community garden across the road at Prosperous Place, along with the gardens attached to the house, all proved to be ideal for showcasing festive events and communal gatherings as the plotting and planning developed, but ultimately, I wanted the book to be about so much more than that. 

The short, dark days take their toll on many of us and I wanted to use the garden to show that even in the depths of winter there is still some light to be enjoyed along with many horticultural highlights, irrespective of whether your heart belongs in the country or the city. Hence, the arrival of a new face in the Square, gardener Freya, and her nervy but lovable rescue dog, Nell. 


Freya’s timely advent (no pun intended) led to the birth of the Winter Garden which quickly formed a surprising seasonal treat for the senses and became packed full of highly scented shrubs, vibrant flowers and some surprisingly tactile textures. Throw artist, Norse god lookalike, Finn into the mix for a romantic twist and I’d created some pretty spectacular fireworks too! 

Two of the characters in The Winter Garden suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and one creates something rather wonderful alongside the garden to put a stop to it getting the upper hand. I’m not going to reveal what it is, in the hope that you might decide to pick up or download the book yourself, and if you do, I hope you will give some of the things the Nightingale Square neighbours delight in, a go yourself. 

I have a feeling that during the next few months we are all going to need more distractions than ever and continuing to build our connections to nature and getting outside at every opportunity will be a sure-fire way to ensure that we keep those happy chemicals fizzing away and fired up in our brains. And so, all that remains for me to do now is to wish you a wonderful winter season packed full of outdoor adventures. I very much hope to meet you in The Winter Garden

With love 

Heidi x

About Heidi...

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.

Her debut novel, The Chery Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further ten books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently celebrating the release of her 2020 festive title, The Winter Garden.

Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm.

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK     Books and the City 

The Winter GardenAmazon UK     Amazon USA

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