Joe Heap


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Photograph: Philippa Gedge


Assistant: Olivia Davies


Joe Heap was born in 1986 to a biology teacher and a drama teacher, and grew up in a house that was 70% books, 25% bags of unmarked homework, 18% underpants drying on radiators, and 3% scattered Lego bricks.

He is very bad at maths.

In 2004 Joe won the Foyle Young Poet award, and his poetry has been published in several periodicals. He studied for a BA in English Literature at Stirling University and a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University, during which time he ate a deep-fried Mars Bar. It was okay.

Joe is now a full-time writer, but previously worked as an editor of books for kids and young adults. He has also been a subtitler for BBC News, a face painter at a safari park and a removal man for a dental convention. Before smartphones were invented, he manned a text service where people could ‘ask any question’, but he has since forgotten most of the answers.

He lives in London with his long-suffering girlfriend, short-suffering sons, and much-aggrieved tabby cat.

His debut novel, THE RULES OF SEEING, won The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award.


Upcoming publication:

WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS - Harper Collins - 29th October 2020

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And all the things they never said.

Their journeys will intertwine through seven key moments and seven key people in their lives.
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…


“When The Music Stops is a truly original bittersweet tale of life, loss and enduring love that had me intrigued from the first page and then completely hooked. A treasure of a book!” - Ruth Hogan



Winner of the Debut Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2019

'This year’s Eleanor Oliphant’ Claire Allan

‘A quirky love story which promises to make you see the world in a completely new way’ Daily Mail

‘Joe Heap’s debut novel is a tender, tense drama about love and the unexpected places you can find it’ Sunday Express

‘Joe Heap’s fascinating debut makes you think about the things most of us take for granted’ Good Housekeeping

‘A fascinating exploration of how and what we see and what we choose not to' Red magazine

'This strikingly brilliant debut novel will truly open your eyes and make you see the world differently’ Fabulous magazine, the Sun


Publication DetailsNotes


What you see depends on what you’re looking for…


Learning to see is often a thankless task. Then, sometimes, the world opens up and you understand nothing will ever look the same again.

Nova can do many things. She can speak five language. She can tell when someone is lying from the sound of their voice. She can even make an excellent sandwich with peaches, pepperoni and pickles…although she can’t convince anyone to try it.

But there’s one thing Nova can’t do. She can’t see. Until an operation restores her sight, and everything changes.

Nova meets Kate when both women need each other the most. And, as Kate comes into focus, Nova learns that the world isn’t as bright as she first thought it would be. She can sense that Kate’s problems are the ones you can’t see, and from an unspoken connection, an unlikely friendship blossoms.

It’s time for Nova to open her eyes and see the world differently, in the very best way.