Shirley Heaton lives in a Yorkshire village on the edge of the moor and loves spending time with her family. She swims regularly and enjoys aquaerobics. Each week she attends a writers group to discuss writing, drink coffee and eat naughty cakes. Having travelled extensively, she uses her knowledge of people, cultures and personal experiences in her writing.
Welcome to the RNA Blog Shirley. Medical romances are very popular right now, so tell us how you set about the research.
The basis of my knowledge began when, as medical secretary to two orthopaedic surgeons, I took notes during ward rounds and in theatre ante-rooms. Since I began writing I have contacted various institutions such as The National Blood Service, and found most people show a genuine interest and are willing to help. When I needed specialist information for my novel ‘Relative Strangers’, I received expert advice from Leeds University’s Professor of Haematology, who later attended the book launch. I regularly update my knowledge because over the years the names of hospital departments, medical treatments and procedures have changed. Casualty is now Accident & Emergency, there are Triage Processes prioritising clinical needs, Major Trauma Centres dealing with multiple injuries, and x-rays are viewed on computer and not film on a light box. I check information both on line and with the local hospitals and know that, if I get it wrong, someone will let me know.
Does dividing your time between Spain and the UK create problems for you or can you work anywhere?
I find I can work anywhere and my home in Spain is inspirational especially when I’m gazing across the mountains to the sea and formulating ideas for my next novel. But when friends and family visit on holiday we take trips out which allows me to people-watch, take in the world around me and reflect.
Are you a well-organised sort of person?
I try to be organised in the way I work and, in addition to online facilities, I have a large filing cabinet packed with well-catalogued information. Most days I write early morning when I’m at my best, starting by editing the previous day’s script. I continue until lunchtime and take an hour out when I catch up on recorded TV programmes or the news. I find TV useful for ideas on storylines and I also enjoy reading a variety of genres and styles. I always finish my writing by six o’clock latest. Evenings are reserved for relaxation, dinner and a glass (or two) of red wine, watching TV, and sudoku or crosswords. Even though I’m resting my body, I like to keep my mind active.
What would you look for in a romantic hero?
My hero is a combination of the best characteristics of the Alpha and the Beta males. Whilst he is strong and quietly confident, he is not arrogant or egocentric. He is caring and loving but not overpowering or demanding, concerned and protective but not confrontational or dominating.
What was your favourite film as a child?
I recall vividly The Red Shoes starring Moira Shearer. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, it’s a love story with a difference. A young ballerina falls in love with a composer. Torn between her love for him and her need to dance, she eventually chooses her lover. The film has a very sad ending and it made me cry.
What would your most indulgent day consist of?
Give me a sunbed on the deck of a swish cruise liner bound for some exotic destination where I can relax, sip a cool gin and tonic, read when I feel like it and watch the dolphins frolicking in the waves.
Lifeguard, Pierce, rescues Brooke from a rip tide and, after a whirlwind romance, promises to keep in touch. Time goes by without contact and, ten years on, anaesthetist, Brooke, discovers Pierce is not only her new neighbour but also consultant surgeon at the clinic. But he wears a wedding ring, and a pregnant woman shares his cottage. Recognising the warning signals, Brooke determines to steer clear, realising letting him close could re-ignite the fire. Pierce, however, has other ideas…
Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today Shirley. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes, Freda
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