My son wanted me to read this. In the past I just didn’t feel the time or urge to read books he or his sister suggested. I’ve shifted now and have a growing collection of books they suggest. I can see why he likes this book so much. He’s read and reread it many times. I can’t remember if I read it when I was his age. I read many Beverly Clearly books, just can’t remember them all. I enjoyed learning about Leigh and experiencing the emotions he had throughout the book. I really like how the book is written as a collection of letters. Thanks, Thomas. I surely enjoyed it.
Today we travel to Stoke-on-Trent to chat with Misha Herwin about how being a teacher, Potteries, being a trailing spouse, writing in short bursts, staging a fight with teddy bears, and draining rods come together as part of Misha’s past and current life.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’ve been a teacher, a stay at home mum and a trailing spouse, i.e. a wife/husband who follows their partner when they go to work abroad. I’ve moved house thirteen times and now live in Stoke-on-Trent with one husband and no pets. Not quite what we planned after we came home from Jamaica, but having no jobs and owning a house in city, which we’d bought for the son to live in and look after our stuff, this is where we’ve ended up. To my surprise I’ve grown to love the Potteries, though I do wish we were closer to the kids.
In which genre do you write?
I write Women’s Fiction, Time-slip and books for kids.
How many published books do you have?
So far there are two Time-slip books, two that would be classed as Women’s Fiction and seven children’s books. I’ve also published several short stories and plays.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I’ve always made up stories and once I started to read I tried my hand at writing them down. With my younger sister I would produce magazines, where I wrote the stories and she did the illustrations. She’s now an artist and I’m a writer. We started young.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
That I write in short bursts and then go and do something else, like making the bed, while the words are bubbling around in my brain. That seems to give me another burst of creativity.
It’s lovely to meet someone else who works in bursts! I do this, too. Not just writing, but anything I’m doing. I’ve never thought about giving it a name.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I write in our smallest bedroom, which is done up as my office. The walls are crammed with bookshelves, photographs of the family and pictures I find inspirational. The desk, which I mean to tidy every night, is usually a mess. Puzzle the bear sits on one side of the PC looking at me soulfully.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
The inspiration for “Belvedere Crescent” came from a gloomy row of Georgian terraced houses in Bristol. Once I’d been down that street I knew there was a story there, although it was years before I knew exactly what it was.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I read; spend time with family and friends; try to keep my garden in order and bake. Muffins are a speciality but my scones are pretty good too.
I’d love to meet up for a fresh baked muffin or scone. Sounds divine! Perhaps one day I’ll get to visit Stoke-on-Trent.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
Being able to step out of this world and into another where I have some sort of control over what is happening.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
Staged a fight with teddy bears to work out the moves that my characters would make.
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you?
Meeting an ex-pupil on an island in Thailand. We walked in to a beach café to have lunch and a voice piped up. “Hello Miss.” We both lived in Shropshire at the time and I was on holiday and she was on her way home from a gap year in Australia.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I don’t listen to music. I practise my piece over and over again to make sure that it will sound interesting, so that people will want to buy the book.
What do you miss about being a kid?
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
1 English is not my first language.
2 I once had five cats living with me.
3 I love cleaning out blocked drains. Give me draining rods and I am so happy.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
Own up to being a writer and expect success. If you believe in yourself others will too.
Wow! I love this advice. Powerful words, Misha!
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
I’d be Letty Parker in “City of Secrets” one of my books for children. I’d love to be in her alternative Victorian Bristol, to experience the sounds and smells of the city, the threat of the Dark Ones and know that I’ll be home safe in time for tea.
Do you believe things happen for a reason?
No. Life is random and you do the best with what you are given. None of us can expect a pain free ride.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
That is definitely determination plus a strong dash of patience. Without them I’d have given up on my writing career a long time ago.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing the fifth book in “Adventures of Letty Parker,” a series for 8-12 year olds set in an alternative England with a dash of magic.
Tell us about your most recent book.
“Belvedere Crescent” is a Time slip novel. It is set in Bristol and is the story of twin sisters and a family curse that has repercussions through the centuries.
Abandoned as babies, twins Sadie and Thea have been brought up by Great-Aunt Jane and when she dies, they inherit her house in Belvedere Crescent. They plan to sell the only home they have ever known, but the house and its past will not let Thea go.
Haunted by the woman with the red-hair she is drawn into half understood secrets and the more she probes the greater the danger.
As everything fractures around her, she slips back in time where she finds herself alone and fighting for her very existence.
To save herself she must come to terms with her family history and let go of the person she loves most in world.
Yet the bond between sisters is one that not even time or tragedy can break.
It was lovely to have you on MTA, Misha! I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best! – Camilla