Thursday 12 October 2017


Heleyne Hammersley is the latest author to submit to a gentle interrogation of their reading and writing habits.

Heleyne's latest book hit the stands earlier this week. It's a very enjoyable police procedural with a back-drop setting of the miner's strike in the 80s.

Closer to Home was on the blog yesterday - here.

Is the writing full time? If not, what’s the day job? 

I'm an English teacher but I'm doing supply teaching at the moment.  It's quite varied and it helps to pay the bills. 

What’s your typical writing schedule? 

If I'm not at school, I tend to settle down to writing at around 10am after walking my dog for an hour or so.  I find that a morning walks helps to get me in the right frame of mind.  I'll review the last chapter that I wrote and then get down to work until lunch.  Afternoons and evenings vary.  Sometimes I write, sometimes I read, sometimes I give in to the lure of the television. 

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters? 

Sometimes. I use physical characteristics of people I know when creating characters.  I steal names as well. 

When you have an idea and you sit down to construct your story – do you know what the end result is roughly going to look like? Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along? 

I do a bit of both. I usually have a loose plan with a clear idea of where the story will end up.  My characters don't always behave as I expect though so there is always an element of making it up as I go along. 

Are there any subjects off limits? 

I don't think I could write anything involving cruelty to animals. 

Can you tell us a bit about your published books so far? Is there one you are more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?  Which would you press into a reader’s hand ahead of the others? 

My first novel 'Forgotten' is set in China and south-east Asia. The central character is a British woman, suffering from amnesia, who is trying to work out who she is and how she ended up in a Thai hospital. It's a suspense novel. 

My second book 'Fracture' again features travel. It's set in Australia and is about a young woman's struggle for identity as she comes to realise that she's in danger from somebody who she thought was a friend. 'Closer to Home' is a more traditional thriller set in South Yorkshire. It's set in the present day but also has sections which deal with the effects of the miners' strike in the eighties.  

I really don't have a favourite - I'm proud of them all. 

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far? 

Signing a three book contract with my publisher, Bloodhound Books. 

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer? 

Gems ........not really. 

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?  

I'm writing a follow-up to 'Closer to Home'. It involves the same main characters and the same setting. I might end up writing a series but I'm not sure yet - I'll have to see what other stories the characters have to tell..  It's going quite well but, like most writers, I have days when I think it's a steaming pile of.... 

What’s the best thing about writing? 

The flexibility. I can write anywhere. 

The worst? 

The self-doubt that seems to come about half way through every book. 

What are the last five books you’ve read? 

Insidious Intent - Val McDermid  
Untainted Blood - Liz Mistry 
Cold Blood - Robert Bryndza 
Nina is Not Ok - Shappi Khorsandi 
The Power - Naomi Alderman 

Who do you read and enjoy? 

Val McDermid 
Margaret Atwood 
Patricia Cornwell 
Ian Banks 
Ian McEwan 
This list could go on and on...... 

Is there any one book you wish you had written? 

Atonement by Ian McEwan. It's so clever and beautifully written. 

Favourite activity when not working or writing? 

Hill walking. I live in Cumbria and spend a lot of time in the Lake District.  I find walking is great for allowing myself time to think and plot. 

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you? 

Detroit. The brutality and injustice was deeply shocking. 

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Hammersley household?

My TV guilty pleasure is Grey's Anatomy. I've seen every episode and have every series on DVD. I also love a good crime series or a well written drama. 

In a couple of years’ time… 

I'd like writing to be my full time job.  

Thanks to Heleyne for her time.

You can catch at her these various haunts.

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  1. I'd like to develop the flexibility of writing, anywhere.

  2. Nice to meet another educator who's a writer. I know just what you mean about balancing it all. And I've watched a bit of Grey's Anatomy, too... Wishing you much success. Thanks, both.

    1. Margot, glad you enjoyed the piece and nice to have the educator role in common with another writer.

  3. Very nice interview. I know it is hard to combine regular jobs and writing but it seems like Heleyne has a good balance.

    1. Tracy thanks. I think she has it cracked.

  4. Col - Thanks for the interview. Yet another reminder that I have to read more current fiction.

    1. Elgin, you're welcome. Glad you enjoyed. We can do a swap with our reading - I need to start picking up some older books.