Strictly Christmas Spirit is a heart-warming, festive romance about a bad boy Hollywood superstar sent to do community service at a homeless shelter. Blake immediately clashes with community centre manager Emily, who is a former dancer from TV show Strictly Dancing with Celebs. Blake doesn’t care about the centre, or Christmas for that matter, he just wants to get his community service over and done with. Will the people he meets at the centre, and Emily herself, change his heart? Strictly Christmas Spirit is book three in the Spotlight Series but can be read as a standalone story.
The book was actually inspired a lot by my real life work. I used to run a community centre in London, providing services for the homeless and marginalised in the community. I based a lot of the story on the experiences I had there (although I never had a Hollywood star come to do community service there!)
What’s your typical writing day like?
Almost impossible at the moment as I have two very young children! If I can, I write between 5-6am and 7-8pm. I literally squeeze in time while my kids are asleep and it’s very hard.
What are the challenges you found when writing your novel, especially when it’s part of a series? Did you know that it was always going to be a series?
Strictly Christmas Spirit is the third book in my Spotlight Series. When I wrote the first book, Strictly on Ice, I had no idea it was going to be part of a series. It was only when I met a literary agent that he gave me the tip to write a series, and that’s where it all came!
What songs would make up a playlist for your book?
It would be a mixture of dance music and Christmas songs, as the book has some dance scenes in it
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps, by Doris Day
Conga, Miami Sound Machine
Moon River, Audrey Hepburn
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Judy Garland
Merry Christmas, everyone, Shakin Stevens
White Christmas, Bing Crosby
Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I love her character and I think she would be really interesting and funny to talk to.
From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like? How long does it typically take you?
It honestly depends on what my kids are doing – if they are going through a bad spell of sleep or illnesses, then I have very little time to write. If I can write every morning and evening, then a new book takes me a few months for a first draft, then a few weeks more to get it in better shape.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Bamboozled! Such a fun word and I don’t get to use it enough.
Any other advice for aspiring writers?
Write anything you can – you can always edit it later. Don’t be a slave to perfectionism, start with something rough and polish it up, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try again.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered since you’ve started writing?
That I have more than one novel in me. I really thought I would write one book then struggle to write any more. But it’s not the ideas I am short of, it’s the time!
Which book have you read that you wish you could forget, just so you could discover it again?
Jules Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It’s such a thrilling story!
About Helen Buckley:
I’m fascinated by fame, in love with Happy Ever Afters, and enthralled by slow-burn romances. I squeeze in time to write around looking after my two sons.
About Strictly Christmas Spirit
From disco balls to Christmas baubles …
Now the only dancing she does is teaching lonely pensioners to waltz, and the closest she gets to disco balls is making baubles with the homeless people in her Christmas crafts class.
She’s certainly not star-struck when Hollywood heart-throb Blake Harris is sent to her at short notice for community service, and has no desire to babysit the arrogant actor with his bad boy antics and selfish ways. Christmas might be a time for miracles, but Blake seems to be a lost cause.
But Emily’s reasons for abandoning her dancing passion means she understands the Hollywood wild child more than she’d like to admit.
Could their time together, coupled with a dash of Christmas spirit, lead to a miracle change of heart for them both?
Strictly Christmas Spirit by Helen Buckley was released by Choc Lit on 26th October 2021. Click here to buy.
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