About Heather Burnside:
I am the author of SLUR, a crime thriller set in 1980s Manchester, which involves two young women who have been wrongly accused of murder. SLUR is the first part of a trilogy and the sequel will follow in summer/autumn 2015. The second book is another crime thriller, which moves into the 1990s and revolves around the gang and drugs culture of that time.
I have also published a multi-genre short story collection called, “Crime, Conflict & Consequences”.
You can be the first to find out about my new releases by signing up to my mailing list at: http://eepurl.com/CP6YP.
When I am not writing my own books I work as a copywriter and proofreader for a broad client base. I have ghostwritten several non-fiction books on a variety of topics on behalf of clients.
My interests include reading (of course), the theatre, dining out and keep fit (to counter-balance the dining out).
What inspires you to write?
Escapism and creativity are the two primary motivators for me. When I’m writing a novel I escape into my own world. The ability to think up interesting plot lines and twists gives me a real buzz, and I get a great sense of satisfaction as my work takes shape.
Tell us about your writing process.
I like to draw up an outline because my other work can take me away from my novels for a couple of weeks at a time. When that happens it can be difficult to get back ‘into the zone’. However, by having an outline I can quickly scan through it and recap on the plot so far.
Having an outline also helps with pacing and gives balance to my novels. It enables me to take a complete overview so that I can plan how I will build up the tension and where the high points of the novel will occur etc. Although I like to plan I still retain a degree of flexibility and by keeping an outline I can quickly make changes and find the relevant areas of the novel that those changes will affect.
I keep my outline in a Word document. Word is useful in that respect because I can view the outline alongside the main document so that if I make changes to the plot, I can quickly implement those changes in both documents. I also keep a character list, and a list of places.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I must admit that I’ve got into a bad habit of talking to myself. My family must think I’ve lost it, but it helps me to hear how the characters would speak. I’m quite heavy on characterisation and I have set ideas in my head about how a particular character would speak and act. I even know the mannerisms of my main characters and I sometimes find myself miming particular actions in my office. (Yes, I’ve definitely lost it.)
What advice would you give other writers?
Many authors advise against creative writing classes but I found that the classes I took were very helpful. They gave me lots of good tips and techniques, which have come in useful. It probably depends on the particular classes but I didn’t find any of the problems with mine that people have cited from other institutions.
I think there are a combination of factors that go into making a good writer – part of it is a natural ability, and it definitely helps to be widely read, especially if you read books in the same genre that you write.
Never underestimate the importance of proofreading. It’s doesn’t matter how good a book is; if it’s peppered with errors it will put readers off and they will either give up on the book or leave bad reviews.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish because of the opportunities that were opening up. I would advise new authors to try the self-publishing route as it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish through traditional means. The time spent sending endless manuscripts to traditional publishers and agents can be utilised in writing, and doing your own promotion. There is nothing to stop you trying the traditional publishing route at a later date and, in fact, publishers will be more likely to consider you if you have already built up an author platform.
There are a lot of books available from independent authors which give useful tips on marketing and promotion. You can find tips on blogs, websites and author publishing platforms too.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that books will always be popular because they give an added dimension that you don’t get with films. I can’t see print books disappearing either. There are still many people that prefer the look and feel of a book or people like myself who read both printed and digital books for different reasons.
As far as independent publishing is concerned, I think it is a growth area. There are increasing numbers of people publishing independently but, unfortunately, not all of the books are of a good quality. I think that readers will eventually learn how to be more discerning e.g. by reading review sites, looking at how well the book blurb is written and reading the preview of the book before deciding to purchase.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: crime, thriller, women’s interest
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print