Heidi Louise Williams has lived in Nerja for 27 years. / SUR

A literary dream come true, despite a battle with dyslexia

Heidi Louise Williams always knew she would be a published author, despite struggling at school because of her condition

JENNIE RHODES

Heidi Louise Williams is an author of over 20 books, a feat she says has been possible despite a struggle with dyslexia since she was very young.

Born on New Year's Day 1975 and raised in north London, Heidi has lived in Nerja for twenty seven years, having only come originally for a three-week holiday.

"I fell in love with the place and stayed," explains the author, who says she has written many of her novels since the start of the pandemic.

Because of her dyslexia Heidi explains that although the ideas come easily, the writing part doesn't.

She describes the frustration she experienced at school in the 1980s, when little was known about the condition and even less about how to support children who had it.

"Dyslexia was misunderstood in my school but we now know that so many of the greatest minds were or are dyslexic: Albert Einstein, Richard Branson and John F. Kennedy," Heidi says.

She goes on to describe how difficult school was for her. "I was bullied from the age of four to sixteen because I was the smallest, scrawniest, and apparently the stupidest, child, but I knew at the age of seven that one day I would be a published writer," she says.

Despite the miserable time she had at school, Heidi went on to gain a teaching qualification and specialised in teaching students with learning disabilities. "My dyslexia made me a terrible student, but it made me a great teacher," she reflects.

Creating stories

Over the years she has taught Art, Dance and Drama, and Martial Arts to adults with both physical and mental health problems in Spain and the UK.

Like many people, Heidi has also had a go at teaching English after doing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course here in Spain.

Deep down though and in spite of her dyslexia, Heidi knew that her "greatest talent" was creating stories and that is what she has gone on to do in Nerja.

Following a brief spell of living in Jamaica after completing her teaching qualification, Heidi came to Andalucía, where she went on to marry and have a daughter.

She has since divorced and brought up her daughter, now 17, as a single mum. She explains that she would work in the morning and look after her daughter in the afternoons and then get down to writing at night.

She began writing her first books, the Leaf's Key series, a collection of eight books aimed at children.

She describes how it took six years to complete the series "having to write things a hundred times over". The process also taught her a lot about not just writing books, but the design of front covers and getting them published.

"I cried a lot with frustration that first year of publishing. I never got that rush of wow, my first book is in print, although it was the dream I had longed for since I was seven had come true," she confesses.

When the Covid pandemic hit, Heidi explains that she lost all of the cleaning work she'd been doing. "My Spanish home town was closing down and there were no jobs to be had," Heidi says.

Like many other families, she was worried about how she would support her daughter, their pet dog and the rabbit.

"People needed to work from home, so now was the time to devote myself even more to writing. It was now or never and if we were not going to starve, I had to work even harder and faster, so began my mission," she explains.

After the huge learning curve from the first series of books, Heidi recognises that as well as her natural talent for writing, she also "had the rules of writing" in terms of proof reading, dealing with publishers and designers as well as marketing under her belt, and says she was "suddenly on a roll."

Between the end of 2020 and the end of 2021, Heidi says that she published many of her books, covering a variety of genres from horror and love stories to psychological thrillers, as well as three erotic novels that she wrote under the name Ana Ward.

All of her books have involved a lot of research but the Leaf's Key Series has taken most time.

"I had to write several separate notebooks full of all the details and characters. I have boxes full of information and it was a massive undertaking," she explains.

Having learned through experience about how to get books on the shelf in places like the UK's Waterstones book shop and of course the virtual shelves of Amazon and Google, Heidi now hopes to offer her advice and services to other budding writers, including proofreading and help with publishing.