Please welcome Misha Herwin, a writer of books for both the adult and the YA market, who’s work I have enjoyed for many years.
What name do you write under? I write as Misha Herwin for my children’s books and Misha M Herwin for the adult novels. I did consider using two different names, but I’ve found that the readers of my adult books often cross over to the Adventures of Letty Parker and having built up a readership I thought it best not to have to construct a completely new persona.
Where are you from, live or work? Having been brought up in Bristol, the setting for most of my books, I then went to London to study when I was seventeen, then I taught in Stoke-on-Trent. After a few years there I moved to Shropshire and then, when the kids were grown up, spent some time living and working in Jamaica. Then back full circle to Stoke.
Tell me two things that people may not know about you. My first language was Polish and I like spiders.
Do you have any hobbies? My hobbies are closely linked to my writing in that I am a voracious reader, I like walking, when I get many of my ideas and gardening, which can also spark off themes for stories.
What is your favourite book(s) and why? My favourite books ie those I come back to time and time again are ones I read when I was young, “The Children of Green Knowe” by LM Boston and “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge. It’s the time-slip in the first and the magic in the second that I love.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always been a story teller. When we shared a room I used to tell my younger sister bedtime stories. The games I played were always story based: the stairs were transformed to a range of mountains, the outside shed to an inn frequented by outlaws, a tree in the woods was a pirate ship. Then I wrote plays for the puppet theatre we had made out of a cardboard box. Later I would write plays for a theatre in education company and for the schools where I taught drama. At the same time I was writing books, first for children, then for adults.
What type of books/genre do you write? I write children’s books and women’s fiction. The children’s books are always a fantasy adventure, while the adult novels range from time-slip to family saga and stories of female friendship.
How would you describe your writing style? My writing style is descriptive− I love to conjure up a sense of place−but I also use a lot of dialogue, because what a character says and how they speak tells the reader so much about them.
What comes first for you – character, plot or setting? Character always comes first, although place is a very close second as I tend to have an image, like a snapshot, of my main character. Once I’ve seen them, I go on to investigate their story, which will always be character driven.
Do you have a writing routine? I try to keep to a routine, which is to write in the morning, when I am at my most creative, but I don’t always manage it as life will get in the way.
Do you become a ‘method’ writer? I’m never a “method” writer, but I do become immersed in the world I am creating, so even away from the computer I can hear my characters talking.
What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on “The Awesome Adventure of Poppy and Amelia,” which is something I wrote with my granddaughter during lockdown. (Since this interview, The awesome adventures of Poppy and Amelia has been published.)
What has been the most fulfilling part of your writing career? It’s hard to say what has been the most fulfilling part of my writing career so far. I’ve loved seeing my plays performed and knowing that “Stich and Bitch” had a reading at the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica gives me a thrill, even though I couldn’t be there, as we were already back in the UK. On a deeper level, the response from my readers is very special. I have one letter in particular that I keep on my notice board which keeps me going when I have moments of despondency. I also find the time when the writing flows incredibly satisfying.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? The best advice I’ve ever been given is to keep going.
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become a writer? The advice I would give to someone wanting to be a writer is to read as widely as you can and then to keep going, regardless of rejection.
What have you published recently? My most recent book is “Island of Fear” a fantasy adventure set in an alternative Victorian England. It is aimed at the 8-12 year old market, but is also being enjoyed by adults of all ages, who message me asking when the next Letty Parker Adventure will be coming out.
Since this interview took place Misha has published her new book, The Awesome Adventures of Poppy and Amelia, Published by Penkhull Press. The book is co-written with her granddaughter Maddy Harrisis. The book evolved during the Covid-19 lockdown and proceeds from its sale will be donated to charity. To give you more information I have screen-grabbed the preface form the book and posted it below.
Do you think there’s still some snobbery between commercial and self-publishing? I think there is still some snobbery between commercial and self-publishing and what is worse is that some writers judge themselves and their success on whether they have got a traditional publishing deal.
How do you market your writing? I market my writing by blogging, tweeting, posting on Facebook and also at 6×6 a quarterly event run by Jan Edwards and me at Hanley library, where six local authors strut their stuff for six minutes. We love it when someone has a book to promote so it’s not just our work that we show case. Apart from that I do workshops in schools, libraries, museums and most recently at the New Vic Theatre. I also have the support of some amazing book bloggers like Jill Doyle https://jillsbookcafe.blog/ Kerry Ann Parsons https://chataboutbooks.blog/ Yvonne Bastien https://vonnibee.com/ and Stef Lawerence https://steflozbookblog.wordpress.com/ all of whom help to spread the word.
Where can people find your work?
- “Island of Fear” can be found on Amazon, all other digital outlets and on order from Waterstones and other bookshop. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Island-Fear-Adventures-Letty-Parker/dp/1916437389/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Island+of+Fear+Misha+Herwin&qid=1595000707&s=books&sr=1-1