Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Interview with author Fiona Harper



Fiona Harper is no stranger to sparkling seasonal novels. After Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe (2012) and Make My Wish Come True (2013), this year's festive read is the enticingly titled The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams, which centres on Nicole and her Hopes & Dreams proposal agency.

It sounds like another romantic winner to me and I can't wait to curl up on a wintery Sunday afternoon with a copy of the book and a cup of hot cocoa. To celebrate the release, I caught up with Fiona to talk about all things festive - from writing seasonal stories in April to her own perfect Christmas day (this interview was originally published on Woman's World).

This is not your first seasonal novel, what attracts you to writing about this time of the year?

"Christmas is an intriguing time of year to write about. Lots of people get caught up in the fantasy of Christmas – fairy lights and snow, lovely food and glittery presents – and yet, because we all have these expectations of how perfect it should be, we set ourselves up for emotional turmoil when things don’t go as planned. There’s plenty of mileage in that for a writer and great opportunities for stories that tug at the heart strings."

How do you transport yourself to wintery days when you’re planning and plotting your novels months before the first flake of snow has even hit the ground?

"It’s a bit strange, I grant you. Sometimes I’m writing about frosty Christmases when everyone is wearing T-shirts and shorts! However, I spend so much time thinking about my story world, I forget it’s not real. One year I saw a lady with her shopping trolley piled high at the supermarket and I thought to myself, ‘She’s stocking up for Christmas!’ And then I remembered it was actually April, and it was only Christmas inside my head!"

What does your ideal Christmas look like?

"A morning at home, opening Christmas stockings on our bed with my two daughters. They’re teenagers now, so it can get a little crowded! Then we go downstairs, make tea and have Christmas breakfast muffins, and then we set to work opening the presents under the tree. After that would be a nice Christmas lunch with family.

"If I’m cooking, I have to make the following or it doesn’t feel like a proper Christmas lunch: pork and chestnut stuffing, bread sauce and proper gravy made using the turkey giblets. I’m also pretty partial to apricots wrapped in bacon to go along with the little sausages. Ooh, and parsnip gratin! (Can you tell I love my food?)"

What is the worst gift you’ve ever been given for the holidays? And the best?

"Do you know, I honestly can’t remember a really bad one! I’m sure I’ve had some, but obviously I don’t hold grudges about them.

"The best gift is the fruit my husband puts in my stocking. Not expensive, I know, but it’s always a surprise, because years ago he got fed up putting satsumas in my stocking and started branching out. I’ve had all sorts of different fruit over the years including guava, passion fruit, kiwis, dragon fruit…

"One year I had a whole pineapple sticking out the top of my stocking, another a yard of Jaffa cakes. (They just about count as fruit, don’t they? I certainly told myself that as I scoffed my way through them!) Last year I had individually gift-wrapped strawberries and one held a strawberry-shaped charm for my charm bracelet."

What festively themed novels from other women’s fiction authors could you recommend to our readers?

"I love Sarah Morgan’s books and her Snow Crystal trilogy is reaching its conclusion this holiday season with Maybe This Christmas. I also really enjoy Carole Matthews and Scarlet Bailey for a bit of festive fun."

The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams is published by Mills and Boon and you can buy your copy from Waterstones, Amazon or your own preferred retailer.

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