I’m happy to be welcoming Emily Harvale to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new Christmas themed novel, Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove.
Christmas is a time for family and friends, miracles and magic, falling snow and roaring fires, fun, laughter and festive feasts. In Snowflake Cove, it’s also a time for secrets to be revealed…
Evie Starr is hoping for more than a sprinkling of magic this Christmas. The family-run Snowflake Inn is virtually empty and the Starr’s financial future isn’t looking bright. But Evie’s gran, Jessie has a secret that might help.
Enigmatic, Zachary Thorn is every woman’s dream. He’s also ex-SAS, so his secrets are classified. The Christmas Special of his feel-good, TV show is set in Michaelmas Bay – until a phone call means he’s spending Christmas in nearby Snowflake Cove.
Evie’s best friend, Juniper thinks boyfriend Darren has a secret. Evie knows he does. And Evie’s niece, Raven is hiding feelings for Juniper’s brother – who has a secret crush of his own.
But the biggest secret in Snowflake Cove is the identity of Raven’s dad.
With snow falling thick and fast and secrets being revealed one after another, will everyone be snuggling up by the fire on Christmas Eve, or are some secrets best kept hidden…?
Hello Emily, it’s lovely to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Your book is called Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove. Can you tell me a bit about it and what inspired the story.
Hello Laura, it’s great to be here. Yes, my new book, Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove is about 34-year-old Evie Starr and her family. Evie is single and lives in the family-run, Snowflake Inn with her parents and her gran. The book is set during the week leading up to Christmas Day and Evie’s 15-year-old niece, Raven is also staying for the holidays. The Starrs are struggling financially and Evie is hoping to persuade TV show host, Zachary Thorn to give the inn a plug during his live, Christmas Special. His show is being filmed nearby, but what Evie doesn’t know is that her gran, Jessie has a secret and when Jessie makes a phone call, it changes everyone’s plans. There are also several others with secrets in the tiny village of Snowflake Cove and one of the biggest secrets is the identity of Raven’s dad. With snow blanketing the village and secrets being revealed, it’s not going to be the quiet, family Christmas the Starrs were expecting, but it’s going to be one that changes people’s lives. And Evie may just get what she was hoping for this Christmas.
As to what inspired the story, I’m not really sure. I write a Christmas book each year and when it came time to write, Evie appeared and told me her story.
Did you plan much before writing this novel? How much planning do you feel is needed?
I never plan my novels. Lots of people do, I know, but that simply doesn’t work for me. I firmly believe there is no right or wrong way to write a novel. I do what feels right for me. A character pops up with an idea and I sit and type it. By the end of the first draft I know my characters well, and I do make notes about them along the way. Then I write a second draft. Sometimes I ‘plan’ an event or the ending – but that doesn’t always work out as I expect.
What elements do you feel make up good characters?
Characters need to be believable. No one is perfect, so, like us, characters can have foibles. They should have a ‘strong voice’ – but that doesn’t mean they need to be strong. Sometimes the character with the biggest weakness is the most memorable. They need to be true to themselves. Doing something completely out of character should be as much of a shock to them, as it is to the reader.
When you came to edit, did you wait to have a full draft. How did you approach the editing (a chapter at a time?)
I always edit as I write. I’ll finish a few chapters then the following day I’ll read them through and edit them before continuing. I like doing that because it gets me back into the flow of the story. Once I’ve finished the first draft, half my edits are done. I then read it through. Leave it. Read it again and edit it however many times I need to before it goes off to my editor. Then together, we may do more. I edited this book in the same way I edit all my books.
Do you believe plot or character is more important when writing a novel?
I believe they are equally important – but it depends on the novel. Some stories are plot driven, some are character driven.
Are you working on anything at the moment that you can tell me about?
I’m working on book two in this Michaelmas Bay series. It introduces new characters but we still get to spend some time with Evie and her family. All of my books can be read as standalones even if they are part of a series.
Which authors do you admire and why?
Gosh. That’s a difficult question. I admire many authors so we’d be here all day. The writer I admire the most though is Nora Ephron. I love her wit, humour, intelligence and style. Everyone loves her films but her books are equally entertaining. She was such a talented person.
Who would you like to invite to a fantasy dinner party and why?
Nora Ephron – for the reason above. Oscar Wilde – for his one-liners. Dorothy Parker – for her brilliant insults. (You’re probably noticing a theme. I love wit, sarcasm and sharp banter.) Nigella Lawson – to do the cooking. Ryan Gosling – because he’s just so gorgeous…and he’s got a great laugh. Bill Gates or Satya Nadella – so that I could tell one of them a few things they might like to do to improve Microsoft products for everyday people like me. Akhenaten – because he was my favourite of all the Pharaohs. Hercule Poirot – in case of a suspicious death during dinner.
Do you have any advice for someone who may be suffering from writers block?
I think there are two ways to deal with writers’ block. You either write your way through it by just writing anything until you find you’re writing something worthwhile. Or completely switch off from writing and do something totally different. Go for a walk, do the gardening, meet friends…anything that takes your mind off writing. Then come back after a couple of hours and write.
What other advice do you have for someone who is thinking of writing a novel or is in the process of?
Just do it. Writing a novel isn’t as easy as some people think it is but if you really want to write a book, you need to sit down and write. Don’t make excuses or say you haven’t got time. Writers find time. Also, believe in yourself. We all sometimes forget that along the way. The most important thing is to enjoy it.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Emily. It’s been great to talk to you.
Thank you for having me. I know it’s early, but as my book is a Christmas book, I’d like to take this opportunity of wishing you and all your readers a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Time if they don’t celebrate Christmas.
My verdict on Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove:
One of the things I love most about this time of year is the release of Christmas themed novels. Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove looked like it would be right up my street and I wasn’t wrong.
First in the Michaelmas Bay series, Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove is a perfect start to what I hope is a long series.
First of all, the cover. So pretty and festive. The title also immediately makes me feel like it’s Christmas. I love it.
The setting for this novel sounds so perfect and idyllic. I wanted to step into the novel and visit. The scene that is set for this novel is charming and sounds so christmassy. It reminds me of the place I used to visit on the Isle of Skye when I was younger – that remote, community feel. I really felt that I was there with the characters. The plot drew me in quickly. There are a few storylines running at the same time but they all tie up to one another so I didn’t feel lost.
This book introduces a plethora of wonderful characters that I felt I really got to know through the course of the novel. Evie is someone I immediately liked. She obviously cares for her family (even her sullen niece.) She fights hard to keep her family together and to keep the business going. I liked Molly and John and Jessie is certainly a character. I would love to know more about her past as there is definitely a story and secrets there.
Another element I liked was the mystery surrounding Raven’s father. I had fun trying to guess who it was.
This was my first introduction to Emily Harvale’s novels but it won’t be the last one I read. I love her style of writing. This novel is warm, charming, full of humour, drama and a few little twist and turns along the way.
It’s a wonderful festive read. Fight against this horrible, cold weather by grabbing a duvet, a hot chocolate and snuggle down with this novel full of romance and festive feels.
More About Emily:
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.
Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove was released by Crescent Gate Publishing and is available to buy now. Click on the link to view on Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076G4DVZH