We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Starlight at Snow Pine Lodge launched on 26th September. Four friends head to the French Alps for a Christmas break in a sumptuous ski lodge, but secrets and past problems bubble to the surface and threaten to change all their lives forever. I write commercial women’s fiction for Embla Books and this particular novel touches on some important issues in, I hope, a sensitive and uplifting way.
What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? Lockdown. Don’t worry, there’s no covid in the book, but when I realised we wouldn’t get our winter holiday (the only one we take as my OH is a farmer) these four ladies came to my rescue, went skiing for me, and saw me through that very tough winter.
How did you decide on the names for your characters and the setting for your book? One of the main character’s name is a play on her full name. She’s trying to stay incognito, and her name needed to be something from a Shakespearean play, so I had fun trying out different ideas. In general, names tend to come to me with the arrival of the characters in my mind, and I find it a struggle if I need to change someone’s name for some reason.
The setting for this novel came with the idea, and their chalet is based on one we had visited the year before I wrote it. The chalet was in a stunning location, yards from the ski runs, and was – as many of them are – an upside-down arrangement with the living area on the top floor in order to take advantage of the fabulous views. Such an amazing place to spend a week with family and friends. Our stay was drama-free, whereas things don’t run anything like as smoothly for the cast of Starlight at Snow Pine Lodge!
Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write? The most challenging aspect was weaving all the threads of the four lives/feelings/experiences and what happens to them during the novel together in a meaningful way at the end.
I think by the time I come to write the end quarter of any book, I’m mentally exhausted and so I find that the hardest. It’s arguably the most important part, but I have to give myself a stern talking to so I don’t careen to the end like I’m on the last run of the day and an desperate for a hot chocolate!
Where did your research for the book take you? We go skiing every year – my OH loves it, he’s skied all his life and is extremely good. Me not so much… But my lack of ability in no way spoils what is a sensational holiday, and so I’ve basically been doing research for years.
Who were your favourite childhood authors? Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton (yes, I’m really that old), Michael Bond. The first book I remember reading which made me cry was I Am David by Anna Holm – that was when I realised books could move me in an emotional way.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice, what would it be? Get writing. Don’t wait for permission, or validation, just get on with learning the craft. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time thinking I had nothing to say. When I did allow myself to start to write, about six years ago, I spent so much time telling myself I wasn’t good enough – and for part of that time, I really wasn’t – but I wish I’d given myself permission to begin trying about twenty years ago. I would be so much farther forward by now!
Can you tell us what you are working on now? A third women’s fiction novel for Embla, to be published next summer and set in a French chateau hotel during a baking hot summer (rather like last year’s, not this year’s!). Can’t say much more than that just yet!