Heather Burnside, is a Manchester-based author of gritty crime fiction. She has a trilogy available through Amazon called the Riverhill Trilogy at: http://Author.to/HBurnside. The books are: Slur, A Gangster’s Grip and Danger by Association.
The last two books in the trilogy focus on gang crime in 80s and 90s Manchester.
When and why did you start writing?
I started writing in 1999 although I had dabbled a little in poetry prior to that. After having children I took a career break and decided to take it as an opportunity to do something I really enjoyed. So, I enrolled on a writing course and set up a company offering writing services. Nowadays, I focus mainly on my books.
What inspires your writing?
All sorts of things – it could be something that happens in my life or the life of someone I know or it could be a news report or TV documentary which sparks an idea.
How would you define creativity?
The desire to create something and the feeling of satisfaction when you have done so.
Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?
I’m a bit of a procrastinator, I’m afraid, so I have to push myself. I do this by setting a minimum word count target each day. Once I get started I can carry on for hours but it’s the getting started that’s sometimes difficult.
If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?
Don’t write the parenting, non-fiction books as there isn’t much of a market for them. The first two books I wrote were parenting books for children of all ages and, unfortunately, they didn’t sell well. However, as soon as I published a novel I had a different response altogether and something inside told me that I would be successful.
What do you believe make for great writing?
Observation – a skilled writer has a knack of viewing a situation and drawing something out of it. For example, I had an unpleasant encounter in a pub a few weeks ago when a woman was abusive to me. However, the line she used was so adroit and amusing that I knew I had to use it in a book. I have done so and every time I read it I chuckle to myself.
Which writers have influenced your writing?
I don’t think there’s any one in particular but reading in general, is good for all writers.
How do you measure success as a writer?
By people buying the books and leaving good reviews.
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
There are a few lines in my first novel, which are a bit cringey and if I ever produced a second edition I would definitely remove them from the book.
What’s your biggest fear as a writer?
That sales will dry up. I write full-time now so I rely on it for my income.
What traits do you feel make a great writer?
Observation, determination, persistence, creative flair and self-discipline.
Describe your latest book to our readers
For Adele and Peter Robinson it is by no means an easy childhood. To survive on a tough council estate in the Manchester suburbs of the 1960s and 70s, they have to learn to look after themselves. That struggle for survival is mirrored in their home lives with a slovenly mother and a drunken father who is perpetually angry.
What the children don’t realise at first is that their father’s violent mood swings don’t stem solely from a lack of satisfaction with his load. There is something inherent within him. By the time Adele is old enough to associate her father’s behaviour with stories about her mad great grandfather, she is already beginning to notice adverse signs in her brother.
As Peter grows up he engages in a life of escalating crime, which finally culminates in murder, and Adele is disgusted with the person he has become. Meanwhile, Adele is hiding behind a façade of normality and has difficulties in maintaining relationships because of her jealous rages. She is worried that she might also take after her father, and seeks help from a psychologist.
Can Adele manage to overcome her troubled past or will her damaged childhood and fragile mental state have devastating consequences on the rest of her life?
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I want to leave them wanting more.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Keep going and believe in your work even if it’s not necessarily loved by everyone.
Can you give our audience a writing prompt to help get them writing?
Yes, if you’re having difficulty with the plot for a novel, try asking yourself ‘What if?’ e.g. What if something devastating was to happen which would dramatically alter the life of your protagonist? What if Rose was disillusioned with her love life but the man for her was under her nose all along – if only she realised it?
What’s next for you?
I recently signed a three book deal with a publisher so I’m writing another trilogy. The first book in the trilogy will be available from the end of July 2017.
Rita has been avoiding Manchester; it brings back too many bad memories. She still has harrowing flashbacks of ruthless gangster, Leroy, and the death of a loved one. It takes the wedding of her brother, John, to persuade her to return. She agrees on the condition that she steers clear of the Riverhill estate and Leroy’s family.
When her son, Daniel, is placed in danger, Rita is lured back to the Riverhill where she confronts those she believes responsible. She receives support from an unlikely source who promises information subject to terms. Realising that she needs help to act on that information, Rita turns to her brother, John.
But John works for the law. And he will have to go against everything he believes in if he agrees to embark on a maverick mission to help save his sister’s son.