Bournemouth author Heidi Perks tells Living's Emma Joseph she is finally happy to call herself a fully-fledged author, as her second novel is released

"It feels a bit weird to say it, but I feel like a proper author."

She is celebrating the release of her second novel, but Heidi Perks admits she is only just beginning to believe she is living the dream.

Her first novel, psychological thriller Beneath The Surface, was published in 2016 through Red Door, a company which shares the process with the author, meaning Heidi had to take on much of the costs herself.

Although she was thrilled to get the story out there, Heidi still wasn't completely happy, and continued searching for an agent to take on her second book, Now You See Her, a story in the same genre about a child that goes missing while being looked after by a friend.

"I found an agent in the summer of 2016," says the mum-of-two, who lives in Southbourne.

"She said to me 'this has got a lot of potential, but we are really going to have to work on it'. She worked with me for a year on it before she was happy to send out to publishers. It went back and forth, back and forth.

"She finally said, in the summer of 2017, 'I think we are ready to send it out to publishers now'. I was hopeful, but really nervous.

"It went out on the Tuesday and on the Thursday we had a pre-entry from Random House, so I didn't have time to get worried. The following week we had one from the US from Simon & Schuster, so it took off really, really quickly.

"I was elated. It's quite surreal - you can't really take it all in. Other countries were coming through as well - you start to joke about what's going to come next.

"They had agreed to do hardback, which is quite a biggie. So I knew that, for them, it was one of their lead titles, but you still have no idea what they're going to invest in it."

Random House were not the only ones who spotted something in Now You See Her - the TV rights have been sold, and the book reached number nine on the prestigious Sunday Times Best Seller List.

"That was really exciting," smiles Heidi.

"I think that's the moment that I've been more excited about that anything else."

That, and dragging her children around supermarkets to find her book on the shelves.

"I never got to see my last book on a shelf in the shop, because it was only on Amazon. All the supermarkets have it, so I went looking for it," she laughs, "it was lovely."

The joy of Heidi's writing is that she has a knack for choosing a subject that many, if not all, of her readers can relate to.

"Now You See Her is much more of a crime thriller," she says.

"It's about two best friends, very different characters. One has a child, she leaves her with her best friend for the day and she goes missing. It's the story of the worst thing that could happen.

"When I was researching it and looking into it, there were a lot of stories about children going missing - it was just putting that twist on it. How do you then go and say to your friend 'your child has disappeared'? The guilt that you would take on."

Heidi drew on her own experience of momentarily losing her son on a family trip to Legoland.

"It's just horrendous," she remembers, "to not know what's happening to them. You're so out of control. A friend of mine had told me a story about a child who'd had an accident in someone else's car. She was talking about what had happened to the family that were responsible, and the breakdown in their family. It was all those things that came together.

"It's totally something that everyone can relate to - that was what I wanted to achieve."

As well as wallowing in the success of her latest book, Heidi has already begun work on her third novel, a story based on Brownsea Island.

"It's an uninhabited island, but Brownsea is the image in my head," she explains.

"The next one will be out next summer. It's another psychological thriller - this is what I love reading."

There's barely time to enjoy the moment, but Heidi is well aware of just how far she has come.

"I used to just say I was a writer," she says. "I knew that I didn't want to continue self-publishing my books. My dream was to be with a publisher and to be in the situation that I'm in now.

"I love it - I can't imagine I would ever want to do anything else."