Veronica Heley celebrates the publication of her 71st book in May 2013, having been in the business for over 30 years. She lives in Gt Britain and is currently writing two gentle crime series set in different areas of London. She also produces the occasional short story. She’s involved with her local church and community affairs, likes to break for coffee with friends and does the garden when she has time. She has been a member of a book reading club for 40 years, but has decided that life is too short to read depressing literature any more.
INTERVIEW WITH VERONICA HELEY
S.S: How long have you been writing?I started writing in l970, and it took me two years of hard work till I was able to produce something publishable. So my first story was published in l973 - after I'd worked it down to size.
S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?I write full time nowadays. I was a secretary in my teens/twenties. I worked in sales, ending up as director of a company that sold TV rights. It was fascinating - but I'd rather write.
S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?It takes years to acquire enough confidence to think you really are a writer. At the beginning, I tried many different genres - especially when the roof was leaking and I thought I might be able to turn out a couple of romances to pay for the repairs. Well, I couldn't. But after about ten years I began to get the hang of what my readership liked, and learned how to do it.
S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author?My greatest support as an author was my first agent of thirty years . . . and now it's my second one. My husband never read anything I'd written, except by mistake.
S.S: Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?I started in crime, turned to historical, and then spent many happy years writing in the Christian market for children and teenagers. Now that was fun. I've also learned how to write short stories for a Christian newspaper, and articles whenever required. Mainly, I write 'soft' crime for libraries.
S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?My faith is always there. In the Eden Hall series (Zondervan) I was fortunate to be asked to show more of a character's development as a Christian. Nowadays I write two series whose heroines Ellie and Bea are confirmed Christians who pray on a regular basis.
S.S: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?There are three linked careers for a communicator like me; teaching, acting and writing. I'm too old now to change careers, but I think I might have been a good teacher. I like to give talks and try to help beginner writers at writers' conferences.
S.S: Tell us about your current release.The latest book is called 'Murder with Mercy'. In it Ellie is asked to investigate if some deaths in the community are what they seem, while her pregnant, difficult daughter Diana is struggling to cope at work, and her husband is in a wheelchair. What's more, sabotage at the big house nearby is being blamed on young Mikey, who is certainly up to something. Can Ellie track down whoever it is who is killing for mercy, keep Mikey out of the clutches of Social Services, and steer her difficult daughter into calmer waters?
S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?I read the newspapers avidly, especially for human interest stories. At the moment there are several cases going through the courts of people who want help in ending their lives, and I could see how someone might set out to help them.
S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?I hope my readers feel that they can empathise with my heroines as they overcome difficulties, which may be trivial - such as buying the wrong food for supper - or helping someone in trouble. Sometimes, just to read about Ellie trying to deal with her difficult daughter, is enough to make a reader feel better about her own circumstances.
S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?My favourite character is Ellie, in the Ellie Quicke Mysteries. Of course. She's getting on in years and her figure is far from sylph-like. She finds technological developments difficult to cope with, and is prone to losing her mobile phone. And after her, I like the boy Mikey, who is about as difficult as they come - but will make a fine man one day. . . if he can keep out of trouble, that is.
S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?My least favourite character is Ellie's demanding daughter, Diana - pregnant and abrasive . . . also fast losing patience with her very new husband. Oh dear.
S.S: What are you working on now?At this very minute I ought to be working on a commissioned short story for the Methodist Recorder, and the next Ellie book, which is due to be delivered in November. 'Murder in Time' is a complex story about how a number of people remember a traumatic event in the past, while young Mikey's future is at stake. I'm also due to start copy editing of the next Bea Abbot story 'False Diamond' any minute now. It's hard to switch from one to the other. I have to go away from the computer and work in the garden or do the food shopping to give me a space between them.
S.S: Any writing goals you still hope to achieve?I hope not to die before I finish my contracts. I'm not sure I could learn how to cope with any new genres now. I am happy and grateful to see so many of my earlier books turning out as e-books. There remain a number of children's and teens books I'd like to see as e-books, but that doesn't seem likely as yet. Maybe, one day.
S.S: Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.I'd like to join a choir again . . . perhaps! And lose a few pounds in weight.
S.S: What is the silliest thing you have ever done?The silliest thing I have ever done is leave the grill on, and shut the oven door. Mm. Well, actually, no great harm was done, but I could have blown up the house or something.
S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?The hardest thing is getting down to work every day. I mean it!
S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?I have a website. I also send out a monthly newsletter of news and views. You can sign up for it by pressing the button on the home page of the website. That newsletter will be shortened and appear on my blog after eight days, so that people can catch up with what's going on.