Harper Impulse author Debbie Johnson is excited for Christmas and not only that, but she’s been writing about it for a good couple of months. Why’s that you ask? Her new book Cold Feet At Christmas is all about getting married on Christmas Eve. I sat down with the Liverpool lady to discuss all things books and the festive period…
Q. Your new book, Cold Feet At Christmas is set to be published on 6th November. For those who are unaware of the blurb, can you tell them a little bit about the book?
A. I have a confession to make: it’s actually all about NOT getting married on Christmas Eve! Our heroine, Leah, is in Scotland for the big fairytale castle wedding deal: tying the knot with her long term partner. The whole fairytale takes a slightly Brothers Grimm turn when she discovers him in a compromising position with one of the bridesmaid’s before the ceremony – not exactly an ideal start to wedded bliss! Understandably taken aback, she runs away and ends up lost, with a broken down car, in the middle of a snow blizzard. Wearing just her wedding frock and Jimmy Choos, she starts the long hike to the nearest cottage – where she meets Rob Cavelli, the kind of tall, dark and handsome we’d all like to find in our Christmas stocking! The story really picks up where it all starts to go wrong for Leah – but, in a strange way, also where it all starts to go right. It’s about finding yourself in the middle of an emotional and practical disaster zone, and rebuilding from the ground up – one Christmas at a time.
Q. Harper Impulse are your publishers *squeal* – I do love those guys! How did you react when you discovered that you were going to be one of their fabulous authors?
A. I was thrilled – my books had been sent by my agent to a few different companies, some of whom had also said yes, but I was hanging on and hanging on and hoping and hoping…and eventually, they said yes! I love the wide variety of romances they publish, and they do a fantastic job on the covers. Mine looks good enough to eat!
Q. The book is based upon a wedding at Christmas Eve. I noticed that the dedication read: “For Jane and Mark – who renewed my faith in happy endings!” How important was it for you to make the ending as realistic and unpredictable as possibly?
A. Well, this is a romance with a strong chick-lit tone – and while there are twists and turns along the way, I always wanted a happy ending. I think most readers do – it’s very cathartic to go through an emotional journey with someone you are rooting for, sharing their ups and downs and their heart breaks and their laughter, but feeling somewhat reassured about the fact that – in the end – love will prevail. If that is predictable, I don’t mind – because you know what, real life is strangely short on happy endings! Plenty of the heartbreak and turmoil, but not so much of the euphoria – which is precisely why we like reading! It’s all about escapism and fun and humour and emotion, about losing yourself in a good book and forgetting the ‘real’ (allegedly!) world around you. I make no claims to be writing great literature, or anything gritty enough to be Booker Prize material – for me, whatever genre I’m writing in, it’s about that escapism. That’s not to say there can’t be a hefty dose of realism – but with romances in particular I think we all like a little bit of sugar!
Q. I presume you wrote your book in the Spring/Summer months, how did you find that experience? Did you blast Christmas music all around the house?
A. I actually started it not long after winter, when we’d had lots of snowy dog walks across glistening fields, which always kind of blurs reality. And to be honest I am always halfway to a Christmas state of mind anyway – it’s my favourite time of the year, I absolutely love it! I’m one of those annoying women who buys Christmas gifts all year round, and has my wrapping done by the end of November. Don’t hate me for it – I just get over-excited!
Q. Why did you decide to write about a romance which COULD go wrong at Christmas?
A. Christmas is such an emotional time of year – everything is heightened, be it good or bad. I lost parents in the run up to Christmas, so that always plays on my mind – it’s a time of celebration and cheer, but it can also be a melancholy time, and for some people downright lonely. Things that are both right and wrong in your life tend to feel more vivid, don’t they? I think it’s partly why so many of us see New Year as a fresh start. So while I do love Christmas, and it’s generally a fab and fun time in my house, I do also see it as having a lot of dramatic potential. Leah, like most of us, wanted so desperately for everything to be right at Christmas – and instead, it went as wrong as it possibly could for her!
Q. If you could write a book with any author (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
A. Hhmmmm…there are some heavyweight writers I totally adore, like James Lee Burke and John Connolly, who write the most exquisite crime novels. But I suspect I’d be a bit out of my depth, so I’ll go for Nora Roberts/JD Robb – a sublime storyteller, and someone who seems like a lot of fun!
Now for the quick fire round…
Christmas Eve or Boxing Day?
Christmas Eve – the excitement, the excitement!!!
Christmas at home or Christmas on holiday?
At home – I’ve tried it on holiday, and I miss my extended family and my dog!
Kindle or Paperback?
Aaagh…sorry, but I desperately need both!
Describe your perfect Christmas in FIVE words…
‘Happy, healthy family, all together’