Today I’m really excited to have Heidi Perks drop into the book review cafe for a grilling. Heidi has just released her debut novel Beneath The Surface and it’s a fantastic read, you can read my 5 star review at the bottom of this post
Hi Heidi welcome to the book review cafe, and thank you for stopping by to answer some questions about you and your book. Firstly I must say congratulations on writing such a fantastic book, and one I am sure is going to do really well
Thank you so much for having me on The Book Review Cafe and also for the wonderful review of Beneath The Surface. It’s a pleasure to be here.
And without further ado and a drum roll or two onto the questions
For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book Beneath The Surface can you provide us with an introduction?
The story is about Abi who comes home (as a teenager) to find her family have disappeared. As she unravels what happened to them many layers of family secrets come to light. Beneath The Surface is very much about the mothers in Abi’s family (her mother and grandmother) and how much their actions and beliefs have shaped what has happened to Abi and her half sisters.
What inspired you to write Beneath The Surface ?
My relationship with my own mother, which is a very good and close one. I trust my mum completely and it was the idea of how I would cope if she did something completely out of character that came to me. I played around with this until I had Abi’s story, and the horror of coming home to find that not only had her mother vanished but she had taken the two younger half sisters with her.
Beneath The a surface is your debut novel, how does that make you feel?
It’s incredibly exciting to see it in print and also to read such wonderful reviews. Receiving my first review was nerve racking but I love hearing what everyone thinks and how people interpret the story. I’m thrilled it’s out there and plan for this to be the first of many!
How long did it take you to write Beneath The Surface?
The first draft took me about 5-6 months to write but after that there were many re-writes. I would say in total I took about 18 months to get it to the point where I was completely happy with it.
How long did it take you to get Beneath The Surface accepted by a Publisher?
A while… earlier drafts were rejected and after two bouts of this I went back and edited it again and again. I used the feedback I received to make changes and improvements and then by the time I was ready to send it out a third time it was picked up almost immediately by Red Door.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
At the time it was things not moving as quickly as I wanted them to. I made the mistake of thinking that as soon as I had finished the book the first time round then the next step would come quickly. That didn’t happen! I am not the most patient of people but this whole process has taught me I need to be more so.
Are any of the characters or events in your book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I should say here I hope you don’t know a “real life” Eleanor ( the grandmother in the book), I found her domineering and not very likeable to say the least!
No the characters aren’t based on anyone I know at all! In fact I don’t think any of the events were based on personal experiences either. Funnily enough I have had someone tell me they have an Eleanor in their family though since they have read the book!
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Doing it on your own. Writing can be very lonely. Before this I worked in a busy office environment, surrounded by people and I loved it. When you are on your own for most of the day with only the thoughts in your head for company it can be hard. I have to make sure I break the day up and see people just so that I can have a conversation with real people rather than just the characters…
When And Where do you write?
I write at home, I have an office but I am quite lazy and a lot of the time I sit at the kitchen table so I am near to the kettle and can look out the back door at the garden! I write as much as I can whilst the children are at school and then occasionally in the evenings too.
Can you describe yourself in five words?
Perseverant. Emotional. Impatient. Friendly. Determined.
Can you describe your book in five words?
Emotional. Layered. Secrets. Dysfunctional families.
What authors do you like to read in your spare time?
I love reading many different authors, particularly anyone current. There are a few who come to mind whose books I will always look out for and these are: Liane Moriarty, Rosamund Lupton, Jodi Picoult, C L Taylor. But I do read a huge variety of authors and love a good recommendation.
What book are you reading now?
I have literally just finished Moving by Jenny Eclair (loved it) and have just started The Bones of You (Debbie Howells)
And finally are you able to tell us anything about your next book?
The next one fits more neatly into the thriller category. It’s about a child who goes missing whilst being looked after by her mother’s friend. I have finished my second draft and am midway through editing it again.
Thank you Heidi for stopping by the book review cafe,it’s been great learning more about you and how Beneath The Surface came about, I’m sure you and your book have a fabulous journey ahead of you and I shall certainly be pre ordering your next book.
Thank you for having me!
About Heidi Perks
Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children. Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.
Heidi is now writing her second novel.
Every now in then a novel comes along and takes my breath away, and Beneath The Surface fits the Bill perfectly. It’s an emotionally charged thriller that kept me enthralled until the last page. It’s a story of Family, betrayal, secrets and manipulation.
Beneath The Surface opens with a hell of a tale, teenager Abigail Ryder arrives home from school one day to find her family gone. How could a mother leave her child? Or worse take two daughters with her and leave one behind? These were questions I kept asking myself throughout the book, which made for an intriguing and compelling read. Fast forward 14 years and we meet Kathryn the mother and her 16 year old twin daughters Hannah and Lauren,who are living in a small seaside town, at this point we are also introduced to the matriarch of the family Grandmother Eleanor who is now in a care home suffering with dementia. The story is told from three perspectives The mother, the twin sisters and Abi whose story is told in letters to her husband Adam, as suggested by her therapist. Through these letters the reader is drip fed snippets of the events leading up to Abi being abandoned, which make for a riveting read.
The characters could win an award for “the most dysfunctional family ever” a controlling and manipulative grandmother, a mother who suffers from a mental illness and an abandoned daughter. I found myself totally wrapped up in them, that doesn’t mean I particularly liked some of the characters, in fact I really disliked Eleanor and Kathryn. Eleanor came across as a narcissistic, controlling and a very manipulative mother and grandmother, where Kathryn appeared weak and shallow, controlled by an over domineering mothers mother who would do anything to please Eleanor even if it meant putting her own family second. As for Abi my heart ached for her, imagine being abandoned by your whole family? How would you feel? Her devastation and bewilderment at being abandoned was tangible throughout. Hannah and Lauren are very likeable characters and I felt such compassion for them, being bought up by an overbearing mother, who constantly puts them second in her bid to please Eleanor.
As Beneath The Surface unfolds, so do family secrets, secrets that shocked me to the core! I never seen them coming until they hit me in the face. Heidi Perks manages to keep the momentum going until the very last page, and I was so engrossed in it I struggled to put it down and read it in just over one sitting. This is the debut novel from Heidi Perks, which I find difficult to believe due to her delivering an exceptional novel, with multi dimensional characters, and an original and well thought out plot. I would not hesitate in buying the authors next book, and I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.
Many thanks to Heidi Perks for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of What Lies Beneath in exchange for an honest review.
5☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Red Door Publishing Ltd (24 Mar. 2016)