I spent all my childhood summers in Wiltshire where my mum and dad had a tiny cottage, with no bathroom, no telephone and no TV. It was memories of those endless summer days roaming free with my brother and sisters – and moaning about the lack of a TV – that gave me the inspiration for Summer at Willow Tree Farm.
I’ve never read the book Heidi, probably because of all the goat-herding jokes I endured growing up. That said, I was recently on a four-hour train journey from Dublin to Rosslare and a guy behind me began reading it to his daughter in a delicious Irish accent – which gave me a whole new perspective on the book’s potential.
Heidi isn’t actually my birth name, my parents christened me Helen, but my older sister – who was only one – couldn’t pronounce it and I became Eye-Dee. Despite all the goat-herding jokes, I changed my name to Heidi officially age 16 because I had never been a Helen!
I love dancing at clubs and parties and festivals, but my husband hates it, so every year my older sister and I borrow our mum’s campervan and head to Bestival for four days of non-stop bopping and girl bonding.
I’m a total USA-ophile. Every couple of years my best mate and I leave our husbands and sons behind and go on a Thelma-and-Louise-style road trip to explore a new corner of this huge and fabulously diverse country – although we always leave out the driving off a cliff bit.
My first passion was watching movies so I became a film journalist, writing reviews for The Daily Mail, Radio Times, TV Times, What’s On TV and Empire magazine, among others. I’m still a massive film buff and go to the cinema at least once a week.
I once appeared on BBC Breakfast to big up Valentine’s Day in my capacity as a romance author… I didn’t have the heart to tell them I’m not that bothered about celebrating it myself, because I believe if you love someone, you should show them how you feel every day (flowers and chocs, optional).
I eloped, unintentionally, and then nearly got divorced the next day… My boyfriend and I were in New York for the Football World Cup in 1994 to see the Ireland vs Italy game, while my mum looked after our one-year-old son in London. Swept up in the moment, we got married at Manhattan City Hall the morning after we arrived, but at the game the next day I was supporting Ireland (my dad was Irish), he was supporting Italy (his dad was Italian-American) and against all the odds Ireland won… My brand new husband was not all that impressed with my absolute joy at the result and my somewhat OTT celebration of same!
If I had a pound for every time someone has said Heidi, Hi to me and thought they were being original, I’d be richer than Jeff Bezos…. Seriously, don’t do it, or you will suffer the Heidi side eye.
I appeared in a Michael Fassbender movie called Frank. This involved me getting up at dawn, then freezing my butt off for ten hours in an unheated hotel in Ireland in February to be an extra in a bar scene. Once they finally shot the scene, and we got to meet Michael, he was wearing a huge papier mache head so he could have been anyone! But I was so totally over Michael and the glamour-not-glamour of being in a movie at that point, I didn’t even care.