My guest today is Jackie Ladbury.
Jackie is a fellow Write Romantic, and my friend, but she’s also a truly talented writer. No, Jackie, I’m not just saying that! Her latest novel, Happy Christmas Eve, is out now. It’s published by Choc Lit’s Ruby Fiction imprint, and it’s a gorgeous festive story. You can read my review here. Last year, her Christmas offering Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill, published through Fabrian Books, was one of my favourite seasonal reads. My review is here. It’s not surprising, then, to discover that Jackie loves Christmas, and writing Christmas novels. She’s agreed to take a break from her hectic preparations for the big day and tell us all why. Over to you, Jackie.
I love Christmas, which is just as well as it seems to whizz around faster every year – must be an age thing. In fact it seems like only minutes ago that I started writing a Christmas book while on holiday in Spain, trying to conjure up the texture of snow landing on my heroine’s cheeks as I lay on my sun lounger, a gin and tonic cooling me down. It was not the easiest thing to do – write, that is, not drink the gin!
Christmas books are such fun to write though and the props are ready-made for a festive romance, making it a breeze to fill the pages with all things magical and delightful: mistletoe, a twinkling tree, snowflakes falling gently outside the window – great-grandma falling asleep over Christmas EastEnders!
And it’s so easy to use snippets from real life, although sadly, I think the Christmas jumper jokes have probably been done to death, but I’ll bet everyone has a good Christmas story, from the son shouting, “Daddy I need a wee,” across the stage instead of, “There is no room at the Inn,” to someone’s boobs falling out of their Christmas dress while doing a Christmas Hokey Cokey.
In my latest Christmas novel, Happy Christmas Eve, Theo’s young sister is very vocal because she’s been given the part of “some boring woman called Mary” in the school Nativity play when she really wanted to be a golden winged angel. That was my niece Caroline a few years ago. She gave all the angels individual ‘evils’ as they pranced across the stage flapping their golden wings.
And the happy ever after in a Christmas story is a given – it is Christmas after all – unless you’re writing a thriller or a murder, then poor Santa will have to get stuck up the chimney, and the “special” present be impregnated with some dodgy Russian poison.
But back to the happy stuff. Christmas is finally here. Time to dust down the mince pies – with icing sugar not flour, as I’ve been known to do – try to look as if you’re enjoying the Mint Baileys (I mean, really, who invented that?) and celebrate that we made it through another year.
We’ve embraced hygge, mindfulness and are on track for positive climate change, (thanks Greta) and we’ve even embraced Boris and Brexit, apparently.
So let’s raise a glass to many more Christmases the same as this one – but better. I only have one Christmas wish: don’t make me eat the Christmas Crunch bars made with coconut oil and Carob that my daughter made – veganism is a step too ‘embracing’ for me. ( they were truly bleugh!)
And on a parting note, I really wish I’d written Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke – don’t listen to the critics, if you haven’t seen it, go now, you’re in for a real treat.
Happy Christmas one and all. xxx
Thank you, Jackie. I totally agree about Last Christmas. I’ve already seen it twice myself. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and yours xx
Happy Christmas Eve:
All I want for Christmas is you … or you?
Eve Halligan is back in her hometown for Christmas after a whirlwind few years touring with her band, the Molotovs. A lot has changed since she left, but two things have stayed the same. One: Eve is head-over-heels in love with Lucien Malikov, the Molotovs’ bad boy lead singer. Two: Lucien is completely indifferent to her.
Still, Eve dreams that this could be the Christmas where she convinces Lucien that they’re made for each other. But when childhood friend and local caterer Theo Wright comes back into her life bringing with him festive cupcake and sausage roll conundrums, Eve begins to question whether her Christmas dreams have been wasted on the wrong man …
Here’s an excerpt:
Theo leaned against the countertop, picked up a still warm cupcake and cut it in half. He bit into it and rolled his eyes in ecstasy. ‘Hmm, this lemon flavour is delicious. Try it – it’s lovely.’ He pushed the remaining half at Eve, but her hands were sticky from fondant, so she opened her mouth and he obligingly popped it in.
‘Wow! Was that one of mine, or yours?’ she asked.
‘Teamwork. We’re in this together.’ He winked and shot her another smile which warmed her heart. She had been starved of affection for so long that the smallest of gestures took on epic proportions.
She mixed more flour, sugar and butter, shooting glances at Theo, who seemed to intercept them at just the right time, a gentle smile tugging at the corner of his lips. The dynamics between them had shifted slightly and although she wasn’t sure how it had happened, there was a definite crackle of awareness between them. She liked the feeling of anticipation it gave her, as if she was waiting for a special present on her birthday, but wasn’t in a hurry to see what it was, knowing she would appreciate it regardless.
Theo had always been an ally and it was such a relief to just be herself without having to check that she hadn’t been uncool or too transparently needy. Nothing like with Lucien– having to watch every word she said and pick apart each conversation afterwards to check for possible gaffs or slights. He was also fun to be with, and kind of cool too, in a strong and masculine way, unlike Lucien’s idea of cool which mostly translated to wearing designer clothes that shouted “look at me” – although, of course having a million young girls in love with him was probably quite cool, she had to admit. Lucien was like a highly strung thoroughbred, to be flattered and soothed and watched for erratic mood swings that might cause him to bite. It was incredibly draining and she was beginning to accept that his personality and the few crumbs of love he threw at her were not enough to sustain her devotion.
Theo, on the other hand, made her feel warm and cherished, like a warm drink on a cold day. Her gaze settled on him as he ran hot water and prepared to do battle with the bowls and utensils that were stacked up by the sink. With the sleeves of his faded denim shirt rolled up and his tousled hair, he looked gorgeously dishevelled as he ran a soapy hand across his face smearing a trail of soap bubbles across his forehead.
Eve’s heart did a funny little leap; he looked so endearing. ‘Here, let me.’ She reached up with a tea-towel but on impulse she scooped an intact bubble, balanced it on her finger and brought it down to his eye level. ‘Make a wish, then?’ Theo looked slightly perplexed as if he’d never heard of making a wish on a bubble, but as he stared at it, his eyes slid across to meet Eve’s.
You can buy Happy Christmas Eve here.
Find out more about Jackie on her website.