Today we welcome the multi- talented Karen King to talk about her new heartwarming holiday romance, The Best Christmas Ever. Karen, right from the start I felt as though I had lit the log burner and put on a Christmas movie. Your ability to not only bring the characters to life but to also describe the perfect Christmas is captivating. What are your Christmases like?
Aw, thank you, Catherine. My Christmases are very different now that my children are grown up and I live in Spain where the big day is the Three King’s Day (January 6th) rather than Christmas Day. We still keep some Christmas traditions though. We put up our Christmas tree early in December and string fairy lights in the lounge and outside across the terrace. We send out Christmas cards and I’m lucky enough to have one of my daughters and her two children living nearby so we all get together for Christmas Day and exchange presents. Dave, my husband, loves to cook a traditional Christmas dinner – and we love to eat it! We usually spend Boxing Day on the beach as the weather is still mild in the daytime over here.
In spite of nursing a broken heart, Lexi still finds time to be kind and spread Christmas cheer wherever she goes. From fighting to keep the village tree from being cut down, caring for Lloyd and Joel by decorating their homes and inviting them to spend Christmas with her and her family, to cleaning up after the ever mischievous Sweetie. Lexi really is a character to fall in love with. How did her character come to life?
Lexi came to me before the actual story idea. I had this character in my head of a woman who loved Christmas and really sold into the idea of Christmas being a time for caring and sharing, family and friends. I wanted another character to give the opposite side of Christmas, who think people put too much importance on enjoying Christmas and get into debt, drink too much, etc. Then I put the two of them together and ran with the story.
Whilst ‘The Best Christmas Ever’ is a fabulously light and entertaining read, it also perfectly depicts the sometimes complexity of village life and evokes emotions and feelings about some of its occupants and how the smallest gesture can transform their life. Has this come from your own experience of living in a village? Is this similar to where you live in Spain?
No, I live out in the campo (countryside) in Spain but I lived in a small village for many years when my children were young and I’m aware of the complexity of village life and how important traditions are for many villagers. I loved the village community and traditions. A group of us used to go carol singing door to door, the money we collected went to a homeless charity supported by the church, and afterwards we all went to the church hall for a feast of mince pies, Christmas cake, mulled wine and soft drinks for the children. It was an important part of Christmas, along with the decoration of the crib in the church on Christmas Eve. Years later, when I lived in Worcester, we always went to the ‘lighting the tree’ ceremony on the High Street, which gave me the idea for the Christmas Eve ‘lighting the tree’ ceremony in The Best Christmas Ever.
Granny Mabe belongs to the local Yarn Warriors group and they yarn bomb the village. Whilst many find it pretty and a form of “Street Art” as Lexi, describes, however there are plenty who see it as a disgrace and want it stopped, dismissing it as “Glorified Littering”. Where did you get this lovely idea from?
I first became aware of yarn-bombing many years ago when I went to a workshop over in Walsall and saw some trees yarn-bombed in the community gardens. I was fascinated with them. Then I read about festive yarn-bombers making postbox toppers, wraps for trees and baubles for railings etc to cheer up the local town/village for Christmas. That gave me the idea for Granny Mabe and her Yarn Warriors.
I had no idea that an arborist is such a complex profession. How did you research about them?
I was surprised too! The research was quite fascinating. I did a lot of research online first to get a general background. Then I spoke to my friend’s son who is a tree surgeon in Cornwall. I also consulted an arborist company who gave me lots of useful information. I’ve mentioned them both in my acknowledgments.
I really can’t decide who I love more, Granny Mabe or Lexi, did you have a rebellious grandmother like Mabe?
My mum, who is ninety and fiercely independent, is the inspiration for Granny Mabe. Mum lives by herself, still drives, visits and looks after friends and family members who are ill, and if there’s a party is often one of the last ones on the dance floor! You literally have to book an appointment to see her and she takes no nonsense from anyone. I could imagine her being one of the Yarn Warriors.
You only mention lockdown a couple of times, yet still manage to let the reader be aware of how much this Christmas will mean to so many. Are you planning an extra special Christmas this year?
I think that because a lot of us couldn’t get together with our families and friends last Christmas we’re all hoping to this year. As well as spending Christmas Day with my daughter and grandchildren we’ll be spending time with friends. We hope that the local traditions of everyone dressing in fancy dress and gathering in the square to see in the New Year, eating a grape as the bells chime to midnight, and breaking open bottles of fizz will be able to go ahead this year. Also the Three King’s Parade on January 6th when the kings travel through the streets on camels, followed by a variety of floats and people in fancy dress, throwing out sweets for the children to collect. It’s quite a show and the children love it.
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Catherine. I hope you have the ‘best Christmas ever’ this year! X
A heart-warming Christmas romance, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Mandy Baggot and Milly Johnson.
Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family. So they’re having a family Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.
But then Lexi sees Ben kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone. She’s determined not to let her break up with Ben spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on The Green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.
Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?
Karen King Bio
Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had ten romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.
About the interviewer.
Catherine Lawless lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, daughter and their three border terriers. She writes novels, journals and children’s books. Catherine’s career started out as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. She toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK before settling down and following her childhood dream of writing books.