We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Snow Days With You is my latest release with Boldwood and it’s a romance between a British teacher in Chamonix for a winter in search of answers about her mother and the French mountain rescue officer who helps her in her quest. There’s a bit of mountain rescue excitement, a family mystery with a life insurance pay out from a stranger, a super-sweet and very competent love interest, an epic skiing lesson, an ‘only one sauna’ scene and a whole lot of gentle moments between two characters who slowly find each other.
What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? I love the Alps, so I always wanted to set a winter book somewhere in the mountains. I learned to ski as an adult a few years ago and I’ve been fascinated by the sport and the lifestyle and particularly by the work of the ski patrol ever since. I decided to set the book somewhere very superlative – near Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe – and my research led me to the PGHM, the elite mountain rescue unit of the French army and then I had my love interest! I got quite deep into the research because it’s fascinating (and very exciting) how they manage to save people from some very dangerous positions in the high mountains.
How did you decide on the names for your characters and the setting for your book? The setting came first with this book, which isn’t always the case (for my Venice books, the beginning of all of that was actually that I wanted to write a love interest who was a glass artist and Murano was the obvious choice of setting). The main character in Snow Days With You is called Luna and I can’t remember actually what came first: her name or the motif of the mountain moon. The moon is a companion of sorts for the emotional journey of the two characters. I chose the name Yannick for the love interest because I’d seen the name come up during my research and I looked at historic name statistics for Haute Savoie (the area of France where the book takes place). He’s thirty-eight so I went back and checked the popular names for the eighties in that area (amazing what you can find online!). I still follow a lot of social media accounts from the area and I saw a short film posted after I’d finished the book and it involved an interview with a PGHM helicopter pilot called Yannick and I wondered whether I’d chosen the name a little too well!
Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write? It’s not a ‘part’ of the book but the biggest challenge I always find is executing the character growth arc in a romance. Both characters (I write dual POV) need to start to book unable to start a relationship for a convincing reason and they have to grow and change throughout the course of the book so they’re ready for a relationship by the end. Sometimes just before the final reconciliation scene I feel like I have too many people in my head, keeping track of their goals/motivations/conflicts and making sure I’ve solved all of the problems. For the first time with this book I involved a mystery subplot complete with red herrings and a couple of twists and I enjoyed planning and crafting that subplot, but it was a lot more straightforward than getting my head around the innermost workings of two characters falling in love!
Where did your research for the book take you? To Chamonix! It certainly wasn’t a chore to head to the setting of this book. I had an amazing time there, soaking up the air of adventure, seeing the mountaineers heading off on their expeditions (and trying to make sure my kids weren’t poked in the eye by their ice axes in the cable car). I put a lot of my own experiences skiing into the book too, although I was in Chamonix in the wrong season and didn’t ski there. I first stood on skis when I was thirty-five and my nerves were completely shot after the first two lessons. I managed to get back on for a couple of days the following season, but I fell over a lot and as soon as we got off the bunny slope it was terrifying. I forced myself to do more lessons the following year and was very scared on the first day, but I managed to see out my five mornings of lessons and even skied a red slope with my family on our last day. I loved putting the g-forces and the feeling of holding back gravity into the book – as well as the sense of achievement when you learn to negotiate a forbiddingly steep landscape.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? My advice is always to write the next book. I finished my first novel in 2005 (I think) but my debut didn’t come out until 2020. I wasn’t actively querying that whole time, but just writing improved my style and characterisation. It’s a real ‘learning by doing’ activity and no words are in vain, because we learn and grow as a writer even if the book never gets published.
Can you tell us what you are working on now? I’ve just handed in book eight to my editor at Boldwood and I’m really excited about this one. It’s a road trip romance from the French Pyrenees, along the Costa Brava and down to a beach town near Valencia. I had so much fun making all sorts of things go wrong and bringing these two characters together in amusing circumstances. They’re both also both divorced with kids and I enjoyed the dynamic of the family relationships and the beginnings of a new (and rather crazy) family forming.
About the Author
Leonie Mack is an author of romantic comedies with great international locations and big feelings. She loves a happy ending and shares that love in every book she writes! Her titles take readers across Italy and as far as the Caribbean. Leonie is a journalism graduate, a language nut and loves to travel, particularly on foot, by bike and by train. After growing up in Australia and living most of her adult life in London, she now lives in Germany, among the vineyards on the Main river.
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