I was a wayward teenager, bunking off school, running away from home, petty shoplifting, drinking – just like my character Melanie. I was also a secret swot, and had been a nerdy little girl, an avid reader and obsessed with nature and ballet. Which I also share with Melanie…

Heidi James

Heidi James

Unlike her, I’m not a huge fan of music. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it, I just don’t listen to music when I'm alone or working and I hate going to gigs. I prefer silence and bird song. I do love to dance though, I LOVE to dance. I’m also not and never was, as cool as Melanie. She’s the girl I’d have loved to have been. Cool, strong and mysterious.

I hate cooking, and am not fussed by the palaver of eating either. Frankly it all seems a lot of bother and time I could’ve spent reading or writing or lying in the sun. If I could I’d live on houmous and pitta bread. And champagne. I suppose I’d add a vitamin supplement to that just in case. And some olives.

I wasn’t allowed to take my GCSE English, and have no A Levels either, but I do have an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature, so it just goes to show even bad kids can do well with the right encouragement and support.

Despite being a card carrying feminist, book reading, yoga practicing leftie; I absolutely love fashion and clothes. I have racks of dresses, coats, shirts, jackets, trousers – vintage, designer, high street – and I rarely get rid of anything. I think clothes are an important element of self-expression. And shoes. Definitely shoes.

Yoga saved me. After a bout of depression I started practicing yoga, it was incredible. As a former dancer it clicked for me physically, but what has really been humbling and healing has been the meditation and mindfulness practice. It’s my medicine.

I am fascinated by lies, why we tell them and what the truth is, especially now in our supposedly ‘Post-fact’ world. I grew up with people who were unable to face the truth that was right in front of them, and that willingness to see a different ‘reality’ had some devastating effects; that was my inspiration for So the Doves and the protagonist, Marcus’, journey in the novel.

I love to learn. Languages, the constellations in the night sky, history – anything. Someone once said, it was a way of unravelling the mystery of the world around me, but I find that the more I discover, the less certain I am about what I know. I think to question and be open to uncertainty is so important.

I am fiercely loyal. I take a while to let people in but when I do, I’m a faithful friend.

I met my best friend, Michelle, when we were 11, just starting secondary school and we were joined at the hip from then on. She was a hugely positive influence on my life. She was more than a friend, she was my family and when she died, after a devastating struggle with cancer, I was lost, bereft. In many ways, So the Doves is about the intense bonds of friendship and what happens when that’s lost. Even though it’s a psychological crime novel, it’s tribute to friendship and love too.

So the Doves by Heidi James is published by Bluemoose Books on the 14th September.