Fun Fast Five
1. Your book is the perfect holiday read! I bet you’ve been asked a thousand times in stupid interviews like this one about a favorite Christmas gift. But as I can still taste the bitter tears after an ex gave me a make-up mirror, I have to ask, what is the WORST Christmas present you ever received? You may change names to protect the innocent.
The worst Christmas present I ever received was a REALLY bad bout of flu thanks to an inconsiderate work colleague. If I could have sent it back I would have done.
2. If you could offer your younger writing self any piece of advice, what would it be?
Write the best book you can, worry about the stuff you can fix, forget about the rest. I probably could have written another ten books in the time I spent worrying about elements of publishing that were outside my control. Easier said than done though, I know! (JFL note to self: remember, the only thing you can control is the writing)
3. What is your favorite holiday read and/or movie?
While You Were Sleeping. I love that movie. It has humour, emotion and all the Christmas feels.
4. You wrote loads of category romances for Harlequin before you became a breakthrough international bestseller with your delightful contemporary romances and women’s fiction. You make it look so easy! Name a book of yours that you found particularly hard to write and why.
It’s not easy! And if you lived with me (believe me, you don’t want to live with me) you wouldn’t think I make it look easy because I regularly stomp around the house when things aren’t going well. But it’s true that some books are harder to write than others. The hardest for me was probably How To Keep A Secret because it represented a big shift from what I’d been doing. I’d written romance, both short and long, where basically the focus was on the love story of two people and suddenly I was working with a much bigger cast of characters, several lead protagonists, multiple plot threads and conflict that explored relationships that weren’t exclusively romantic (although I do still always have romance in my novels). It was exciting and I loved doing it because I’d never written anything like that before and I was ready for a change, but it was also scary precisely because I’d never written anything like that before! There was always the pressure of not quite knowing if I’d be able to do it. But I feel that way with most books. When I’m on page one, I often wonder if I will make it to the end. It’s always a relief when I do! (JFL side note: SQUEE! This book is on my TBR pile!!)
5. I had the pleasure of visiting you in England pre-pandemic, and it was so charming and lovely, just like the movies, and when Christmas rolls around here in Texas, I find myself envious of anyone with an English garden and a reason to wear a coat. We don’t even get a Boxing Day! (Should that be capitalized?) So…just how hungover is everyone really on Boxing Day? Are there any traditions your family observes on Boxing Day?
I remember your visit well. We had afternoon tea and it was such fun. We do wear coats a lot here, but the novelty of winter wears off pretty quickly after months and months of having a cold nose and cold toes, and scraping ice off the car. On the other hand I’ve been to Texas and it was so hot I felt as if I was wearing fourteen coats, so I’m not sure I could cope with that either. (JFL side note: It is true that the weather in Texas is an acquired taste).
Boxing Day (and yes it should be capitalized) is great, and not just because it gives us an extra day of holiday (most businesses close for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but before you start feeling envy remember that you have Thanksgiving and we don’t). Boxing Day is lower key than Christmas but has its own special charm because of that. In our house we have a big family gathering but it’s less work than Christmas Day because we eat the leftover turkey (usually in big, thick sandwiches or in turkey curry – yum!), then we almost always go for a long, wintery walk (coats!) and then come home and consume more calories. By the end of it we have trouble fitting into our coats. As I’m often the one cooking I’m not usually hung over, but I’m sure it happens.