Hi Emily. Thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your novel, Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row (I love this title) and what inspired it?
It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
I’m so pleased you love the title. The wonderful members of my Facebook group helped me choose it. There were three options and this was the most popular.
The idea of Bells and Bows came to me as I was staring at one of the churches I can see from my office. The bells were ringing because it was a Sunday morning. I love listening to church bells, so my mind was drifting as it so often does. Juliet Bell and Harrison Bow popped up in front of me and introduced themselves. I loved the fact that their names had a Christmas ring to them (excuse the pun) and because they both had siblings, Bells and Bows was born.
I firmly believe in love at first sight. I also believe a person can love another their whole life, even if they’re not actually together. I can tell you many true stories relating to both!
Anyway, because I adore Christmas, and because of their names, I decided to put all those things together and see where it went. Both main families in this book need to learn to discuss issues and to open up about their feelings.
They believe in ‘a stiff upper lip’ and tend not to talk to one another about anything meaningful. This Christmas, that’s all about to change.
One of the secondary characters is based on a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us, and he is the cause of a few misunderstandings in the novel.
From planning to edit, what’s your writing process like and how has it changed since the first book?
I don’t plan. I never have. I get an idea and I sit down and write whatever comes into my head, or whatever appears in front of me.
I often say that the story unfolds before my eyes and I simply type what I’m seeing. I write a very quick first draft and make notes about the characters, settings etc. along the way.
Then I leave it for a few days or so, do any research that’s necessary, and then write the second draft. I write as many drafts as it takes before I feel happy with the book. After that, it goes to my editor.
Any changes or suggestions she has, are discussed and if I need to rewrite anything, I do.
Which Christmas tradition is your favourite?
That’s a difficult question because I love them all. Preparing the Christmas cake and all having a stir of the mixture and making a wish is one I’ve loved all my life. Opening one present on Christmas Eve, is another.
Finding a Yule log, bringing it home and burning it is one I can’t do at the moment because I no longer have a real fire. I miss that.
I need to move home before next year. I want a real fire again. Buying about two hundred more Christmas cards than I’ll ever need – and then doing exactly the same every year. (I’ve got boxes and boxes of cards…but I’ve already bought more this year!) Hanging wreaths on the doors, front and back.
Putting up the Christmas decorations in November. Going to a carol concert. Christmas crackers. Making mulled wine and eggnog.
Not together in the same pot, obviously. Hohoho! Setting the Christmas pud alight. Baking mince pies. Playing Christmas songs from October onwards. Yes, honestly. Ask my friends. It drives them nuts.
Ooh nuts! Spending hours trying to crack a brazil nut open and nearly losing an eye, or breaking several ornaments in the process. That’s a tradition not to be missed! Sorry. You only wanted one thing, didn’t you?
What songs are on your Christmas playlist?
Er. This could take several pages. It’s a long, long list. I’ll pick just a few of my absolute favourites. Silver Bells. Last Christmas. All I Want for Christmas. Feliz Navidad. O Holy Night. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman. I Saw Three Ships. Little Drummer Boy. Driving Home for Christmas. A Winter’s Tale. River. White Christmas.
Which do you think is more important, character or plot and which one comes first for you?
I think they’re equally important. Sometimes the idea comes first, but usually, for me, the characters arrive and tell me their stories. I hope I do them justice.
Do you have any advice for someone experiencing writers block?
Go and do something completely different. Take a walk, do some gardening, have a bath, watch TV. Anything but sit and stare at an empty screen. When you come back, if your mind is still blank, simply type something. A description of what you’re wearing. The view from your window. Even about how miserable you’re feeling. Once you start typing again, the words will soon flow. Don’t type a shopping list though, or you’ll spend the next five hours buying stuff online instead of writing your book. Or is that just me?
How do you pick the names of your characters?
They simply come to me. They usually feel right and only once have I changed someone’s name after the first draft. She was a fickle creature and couldn’t decide what she wanted to be called. I thought of a few things to call her, believe me. But they weren’t Christian/first names and most of them turned the air blue.
Are you able to tell me a little about what you’re currently working on?
I’ve written a first draft of the first book in a new series, but I’m now working on two further books in my Lily Pond Lane series, due to the huge number of emails and messages I’ve received asking for more books in that series. The new series will now come out much later in the year but I’ll still work on it at the same time as ‘Return to Lily Pond Lane’
Which book has made the most impact on you and why?
One of my books, do you mean? The Cottage on Lily Pond Lane. I was never quite sure where that book was taking me, and from the day I started writing it I had to do masses of research because of one of the characters. I got so engrossed in the research that I stopped writing and read a whole host of books about the courageous women in WW2. They left me humbled, moved to tears, proud to be a woman, and so much more. Writing the book was actually a relief after the research. That book – which is a four-part serial – is a total of 730 pages. It’s also now my best-selling book to date.
Any more advice for new writers?
Simply sit down and write. Write from your heart. If you don’t love your book, no one else will.
About Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row…
It’ll take a miracle to make Juliet’s Christmas merry, but Mistletoe Row is the place to be when you need some Christmas magic.
The last person Juliet Bell expects to see when she returns home for Christmas is Harrison Bow.Especially with the most beautiful woman in the world by his side. Twenty years ago, Juliet and Harrison had the shortest romance in history, consisting of one date – and one blazing row. But Juliet will never admit when she’s wrong, and Harrison doesn’t forgive easily, so they haven’t seen, or spoken to one another since.
Harrison Bow vowed he’d never visit his grandfather at The Grange, again, or drive along Mistletoe Row, the scene of one of the unhappiest times of his life. He hasn’t been back for twenty years and he’s only here now because his brother pleaded with him to come. At least with his executive assistant joining him, he’ll be able to do some work.
But Juliet’s sister, Zoe and Harrison’s brother, Luke have some surprises in store for their elder siblings, and so it seems does Fate. After Harrison risks his life to save Juliet, the least she can do is be nice. The problem is, Harrison is hotter than the log fire in The Mistletoe pub, and when she’s surrounded by twinkling lights and softly falling snow, it doesn’t take long for her to realise she’s in love with the man she thought she hated. Even if he doesn’t appear to be in love with her.
Bells and Bows on Mistletoe Row is available to buy. Click on the link to find out more – https://newbook.at/Bells-and-Bows
Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.
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