This week, I’m delighted to welcome author Emma Davies to the blog so I can ask her all about her new Christmas novella, Merry Mistletoe.
But first the wonderfully festive cover and the blurb . . .
Sherbourne Mistletoe has been prized and sold at the annual Mistletoe Fair for over a hundred years; but could this year possibly be the last? With her father’s sudden death and debts mounting up it looks as though Freya’s only hope for the future is to sell her beloved family home. And to make matters worse, the only contenders to buy Appleyard Farm, are the people she’d least like to sell it to – her rival growers, the Henderson brothers, who seem always to make life so difficult for her.
It’s magical stuff though, mistletoe, and the arrival of the mysterious Amos Fry, brings a glimmer of hope that might just mean Freya can fall in love with Christmas all over again.
As the snow begins to fall, cosy up and find your sparkle this Christmas with another big-hearted, and wonderfully warm read from the author of Letting in Light.
And an excerpt to get you in the Christmas spirit . . .
‘How can I possibly compete with this lot? I mean look at them. They’ve easily three times as much as I have. No one’s going to want my paltry few bundles. I shouldn’t have come.’
Amos picked up a bundle of the holly, holding it close to his body. He touched a round red berry gently and ran a finger down the spine of a rich dark leaf. ‘But this is beautiful Freya. I would buy it, if I could.’ He was horrified to see her eyes begin to glisten. ‘Have you been here lots of times before?’
She gave a small nod. ‘Yes, but that was … was with my dad.’
‘And would you feel like this if your dad were here today? Would you be wanting to give up and go home?’
‘No, of course not, but that was different,’ she frowned. ‘Things were different then.’
‘Only if you believe them to be,’ he said softly. He reached into the bundle and plucked a small white feather from its depths before taking her hand to help her down from the van. Gently placing the bundle on the floor he tucked the feather into the rim of her hat, pushing it into the woollen folds.
‘There are always times when your father is with you Freya, more often than you know.’
Sounds like just the thing to get everyone in a festive mood! Welcome to the blog, Emma. Tell me, what draws you to writing romance rather than any other genre?
That’s actually a much harder question to answer than it looks, particularly because I don’t just read this genre myself. When I was much younger I used to read a lot of fantasy titles and even had a go at writing one of these in my teens, but as I got older I switched to reading either romance or thrillers, both of which I still read now. I suppose I just never saw myself writing thrillers, but also if I’m honest it’s probably because reading for me is a stress buster, a release and an escape from everyday problems and a world which, let’s face it, can be quite distressing at times. I love to escape to a world which gives me a warm glow, and where I know that I’m going to get my happy ever after. I love that people are nice and do nice things (not all the time), and that mostly this genre exploits the very best side of the human character. I like the way these books restore my faith in humanity.
I agree with that – it can be very therapeutic to lose yourself in the ‘nicer’ side of life for a while. So what was the initial idea that got you started writing Merry Mistletoe?
It was the setting that sparked the idea for the plot, and that came to me, quite bizarrely, one morning as I was brushing my teeth. I had been thinking of writing a Christmas novella, and was musing on some Christmas themes, when it came to me that the mistletoe sales which are held in a town not far from me would provide the perfect back drop. Once I had that in my mind, I had my first line within seconds, and the rest just sprang to life.
Could you tell us a little about the setting?
The setting for the mistletoe sales is Tenbury Wells, a very real small market town on the edge of the Shropshire / Worcestershire border. In many ways it’s quite an unremarkable town, but at Christmas it comes alive with a series of mistletoe sales, to which vendors come from all over the country to sell their wares at auction. The auctions have taken place for over a hundred years and as a consequence a whole series of traditions and events have grown up around the sales. Tenbury Wells is also very close to the glorious Herefordshire countryside, famed for its orchards, and as mistletoe is most commonly found growing on apple trees it seemed the ideal setting for Freya’s home; her beloved Appleyard Orchard.
What do you like best about Freya and Amos?
Amos is a very interesting character, and one I’m hugely fond of; in fact I don’t think even I know quite what he’s capable of yet. I think one of the reasons I love him so much is that, again, the inspiration for his character came to me out of the blue. I was out in the car one day when I drew up behind a motorbike at a set of traffic lights. The bike had a personalised number plate which read AM05 FRY, and I thought Amos Fry was such an evocative name that I knew I had to use it. Within minutes of driving off again, his character was almost fully formed, and I love the air of mystery that he has about him. Freya appeals to me, because she’s like so many of us; longing for a way out of a life that difficult circumstances have thrown at her but just needing someone to give her a little nudge in the right direction, to give her the courage to follow both her convictions and her dreams. She’s a very warm character, not without flaws, but who has strong beliefs in traditional family values. I so wanted her to have her happy ending, not because she is remarkable, but because in many ways she is quite unremarkable, living a small life, just like most of us do.
That sounds perfect. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a character’s name from a number plate before, though! So could you tell us something about the Christmas traditions at your own household? (I can be very nosy sometimes)
Our Christmases are pretty quiet, just my husband, our three children, my mum in law (who lives with us), my mum, and me. We don’t have, or go to, huge parties but prefer to stay at home, doing all our traditional family things that have built up over the years. I love the delicious anticipation of the whole build up to Christmas and putting up the tree and decorating the house are probably my favourite thing, along with my children, who despite being in their teens still get very excited about the whole thing. We love watching Christmas films together, always one on Christmas eve, and this rounds off a lovely day which we spend making our Christmas traditional treats, such as my yummy cheese sables, which are just a crumbly cheese biscuit with crushed peanuts on top, but which taste heavenly. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
Sounds like a great way to spend Christmas. Have you started your next book yet, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?
I have so many things planned for next year, that I’ll be amazed if I can fit them all in! I’m busy finishing off the sequel to Letting in Light at the moment which I have to deliver to my publisher by the end of March so that’s my main focus. After that I’ll be returning to a novel I started to write about the wonderful Amos Fry, before I decided to pop him into my Christmas novella, but this will be his story, and a full length book. I’ve also got plans for a series of novellas, which may or may not be set around Appleyard, I’ve got so many other ideas all churning around my head …
I’m sure your readers will be glad to hear it! Thanks so much for visiting, Emma – it’s lovely to find out more about you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After a varied career Emma Davies once worked for a design studio where she was asked to provide a fun and humorous anecdote for their website. She wrote the following: ‘I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty something mother of three.’ Well the job in the design studio didn’t work out but she’s now a forty something mother of three, and is working on the rest.
Today she’s a finance manager and looks at numbers a lot of the time, so at night she likes to throw them away and play with words, practicing putting them together into sentences. Pop over to her website www.emmadaviesauthor.com where, amongst other things, you can read about her passion for Pringles and singing loudly in the car.
You can also Wave to her on twitter @Emdavies68 or find her on Facebook (a little too often than is good for her) www.facebook.com/emmadaviesauthor