Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interviews. Show all posts

Dec 19, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Debbie Johnson & Giveaway!


About Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson is an author of women’s fiction for HarperImpulse, Harper Collins, supernatural crime for Avon, and fantasy for Del Ray. Let’s welcome the one and only and very talented Debbie Johnson – and if you want to chat to her, follow her on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

There are so many lovely ones when you have children, but I especially treasure my daughter when she wasabout 3, coming downstairs all fat and cuddly, saying she’d been kept awake ALL night by reindeer hooves dancing on the roof! We live near the coast, so it could have been seagulls! I also cherish a memory of a Christmas when my mum, who died a few years ago, came down to Oxford to visit me when I was living there – she suffered poor health later in life, so recalling her at a stage when she was fit and independent enough to travel on the train alone is really nice.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Snowman and a really good current festive romance – I’ve especially liked Carmel Harrington’s Every Time A Bell Rings this year.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

From the real world, too many people – my mum and dad, my dad’s partner, and two of my closest friends, all of whom died in autumn and in the run-up to Christmas. I’d love one more conversation, one more chance to say I love you. But that’s a bit macabre – instead, maybe I’ll have a wonderfully snowy Christmas in front of a roaring log fire in a cabin in the Alps, with James Bond! There’d be lots of booze and good food and…other stuff!

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

He seems like a cool dude – never met him though! Having played Santa for my kids for a number of years now, I really appreciate how hard his job is!

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best gifts for me are always books, but my husband and I also have a habit of getting each other very silly autographed photos. I’ve got him the cast of Lovejoy and Jeeves and Wooster, and my favourite from him is of David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth! They’s displayed in frames in our hallway, and cause much confusion to visitors! Worst gift ever…from my teenaged son, who was going through a real ‚whatever!’ phase and forgot to get anybody any gifts. So he made me a bracelet out of string with old foreign coins glued onto it, thinking I’d see it as cute…I didn’t. I saw it as him having forgotten to get me a Christmas present and having to make one from items he found on his bedroom floor!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Last Christmas by Wham!

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

Bad Santa

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

I’m giving my own away to one friend, because she’s asked for it! I’ve bought my daughter the complete Enid Blyton Mysteries set, and my middle son the latest David Walliams. There are always lots and lots of book-shaped gifts under our Christmas tree!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Favourite: spending time with family, totally relaxed and away from the stresses of work and the real world. Least favourite: the horrible bit straight after, where people go back to work, and everyone is really depressed!

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Savouries for me – roast spuds and stuffing with the turkey!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive digital copies of Cold Feet at Christmas and Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper, both really great books. Good luck!


Dec 16, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Sheryl Browne & Giveaway


About Sheryl Browne

Sheryl Browne writes edgy, sexy, heart-wrenching fiction and has seven books published. Sheryl says:

„After a tumultuous few years, I am at last feeling proud of my writing endeavours. However, none of this would have been possible without the wonderful support of readers, book bloggers and reviewers, without which I would have given up. I can’t thank those people enough.

Information about my books, together with snippets from reviews, can be found on this site , so please do take a look around. Please also feel free to contact me – I’d love to hear from you, or take a peek at my blog to see what I’m up to. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter.”

Interview

What’s your best Christmas memory?

Getting a proper bicycle with a bell on it. Please see ‘best and worst gifts’ below.

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

Fairy Tale in New York by Nicky Wells, The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering and One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot. All beautiful books to curl up with, Christmas chocs and mulled wine to hand.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My mum. I lost her when I was young. She had seven children. Yup, seven. Remembering how hard she worked, I’d love to give her a beautiful Christmas where she didn’t have to lift a finger.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

They really ought to give him an all year round job.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best: A bike! I was all grown up at the time, but I so wanted a traditional ladies bike. My partner bought one for me. He hid it in a neighbour’s garage and presented me with it after dinner, a proper bicycle with a bell and a basket and little roses on the frame. Worst: A peg bag. Say no more.

Your favourite Christmas song?

A Winter’s Tale by David Essex. I challenge you to watch the video and not drool.

Your favourite Christmas movie?

My fave would have to be Finding Nemo (don’t tell anyone, but my partner’s eyes welled up!). How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey ranks up there too.

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Ahem. I have to admit they’re all by one author: John Donoghue’s, Police, Crime & 999, Police, Lies & Alibis and Shakespeare My Butt. I badly needed something to cheer me up after my partner’s cancer diagnosis and his undergoing various surgeries (he’s doing fabulously now, btw!). You can probably guess then that this author had his work cut out. He succeeded. I laughed until I cried. Anyhow, long story short, my partner nicked my print copy of his latest, Police, Arrests & Suspects and now he wants the rest. The books are just sidesplittingly hilarious and, as you can gather, made my partner hoot too. Job done!


Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Fave: Watching my foster dogs open their pressies.

Least fave: Knowing there are people who are lonely, hurting or frightened who will never now the luxury of Christmas.

I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Christmas pud! It wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blog will receive an ebook by Sheryl Browne, winner's choice. Good luck!



Dec 15, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Katey Lovell + Giveaway



About Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is the author of the Meet Cute series published by HarperImpulse. The next part – The Boy Under the Mistletoe will come out on 17th December! Katey is also a reader and all round lover of books and has a wonderful blog.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My husband and I got married on December 23rd 2005 so that was a really, really memorable Christmas. Weflew to New York on honeymoon on Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas Day in the city that never sleeps! We had a wonderful meal at a revolving restaurant and then a romantic (but rainy) walk through Central Park taking in the Alice in Wonderland statue and Strawberry Fields. It was such a lovely, lovely day.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I’ve read so many Christmas books that it’s hard to choose! Although I do love Dear Santa by Rod Campbell as it was my son’s favourite picture book for a long time !)

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

This is another tough one but as I can’t imagine a Christmas without my son Zachary I’ll have to say him :) 

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

He’s a very hardworking chap, for 24 hours at least! I’d love to know what he gets up to the rest of the year though…

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My son was born on December 19th and I always say he was my Christmas present, but in terms of physical objects one of my best has to be my Kindle as it’s had so much hammer! As for the worst – my husband once gave me an out of date packet of Worcester Sauce flavour French Fries as a sticking filler. I love them, but I’m really fussy at not eating anything out of date so there was no way I was letting those pass my lips!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Whilst I love the Christmas pop songs, my favourites would have to be one of the traditional carols – maybe O Come, All Ye Faithful because it’s so rousing. Plus, it has a verse just for Christmas day itself, so singing that at midnight mass signals the start of the celebrations.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

This is easy – Love Actually. It’s just so incredibly sweet and touching and brings home the importance of spending Christmas with loved ones.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Hmmm… well, without spoiling anything for anyone, I’m giving my son’s godmother The Lake House by Kate Morton – and she’s giving me a copy too as we both love Kate’s books! I’ve also got a Kitty French book for my mum and Joe Root’s autobiography for my husband.

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favourite is spending time with loved ones and not having to go to work! The least favourite is how busy everywhere gets with people Christmas shopping – I’m not keen on queuing.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

We always had Turkish Delight at Christmas when I was growing up and the rose flavour is delicious. My favourite part of a traditional Christmas dinner is a Yorkshire pud – yum!

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Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize, a red and white striped beach bag filled with bookish prizes, good luck!


Dec 14, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Zoë Miller & Giveaway!


About Zoë Miller

Zoë Miller writes contemporary fiction laced with intrigue and drama. She is published by Hachette Books Ireland and her latest book, A Question of Betrayal, is out now in paperback. When Zoë’s not escaping into her writing world, she juggles her time between her family and the day job. Find out more at her website , Facebook, or follow Zoë on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory?

My best Christmas memory comes from my childhood Christmases. The excitement of Christmas Eve was almost too much to bear. As soon as darkness fell, my father always ‘saw’ Santa Claus and his sleigh lighting up the sky above our house as it whizzed around, but by the time we children got to the window (there were five of us) the sleigh had invariably disappeared behind neighbouring roofs. Nowadays, the excitement might have diminished a little, but the magic of Christmas Eve is always in my heart. 

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

When I think of Christmas reads I always remember the Jack and Jill annual that was under the tree the Christmas I was four. Although I couldn’t read properly at the time, I pored over that annual from cover to cover, loving every story and making sense of the pictures. In recent years I’ve enjoyed Emma Hannigan’s warm, cosy, and very Christmassy novels – ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ and ‘The Heart of Winter’.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My father – he passed away in December, 24 years ago now. He loved Christmas so much because it meant all the family gathering together, and it would be wonderful to have him sitting at the Christmas table one more time.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the idea of Santa as a warm, magical, generous, gift-bearing character, who’s for everyone, not just the children. He’s the wonder and excitement shining out from children’s faces, which resonates with the child in every adult, and he’s the generosity of spirit and the kindness of strangers that seems to prevail in a special way at Christmas time.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gifts are books – any kind of book, fiction, travel, biography. There’s nothing more relaxing than snuggling up with a book in the lazy, fireside days after Christmas.

I don’t really have a worst gift – all are welcome!!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Can I have two? ‘Let it Snow’ and ‘O Holy Night’.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

It’s hard to choose, as I enjoy the warmth, silliness and escapism of all Christmas movies, the snow scenes and cosy, decorated houses, but I think ‘Love Actually’ is my favourite.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

For a friend: An inspirational 2016 diary that’s full of monthly motivations and daily messages

For my daughter: Jojo Moyes latest bestseller, ‘After you’

For my sister: Kate Morton’s latest, ‘The Lake House’

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

I love the weeks before Christmas when the lights begin to shine, on city streets, in shops and windows of houses. Think how dreary winter would be without them. My least favourite part is the financial and time pressure people can sometimes put themselves under looking for perfection or trying to make the celebrations bigger and better. I think it’s best to keep it as simple and easy as possible for all family members, so that everyone can just relax and enjoy the get togethers.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Those tasty little pieces of ham I pull off the freshly cooked joint on Christmas Eve. Well, as chief cook, I do have to check it’s okay, don’t I?

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:

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A copy of A Question of Betrayal will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!

Australia Days: Interview with Helen J Rolfe & Giveaway!


About Helen J Rolfe

My English teacher at school told me to never give up on my dream of becoming a writer. Somehow I ended up with a business degree and a job as a computer programmer, but I never forgot her wise words and encouragement. 

In August 2000 I answered my call to adventure and headed to Australia where I ended up living for fourteen years. I made my home in Melbourne for just over nine of those years and in 2003 I left the I.T. industry and began my writing career as a freelancer.

After a relocation to Sydney and with more time on my hands once the kids started school, I continued freelancing for women's health and fitness magazines, I studied four units of a Masters in Writing and finally I realised that all I wanted to do was become an author.

Australia will always hold a special place in my heart but in 2014 the pull of family brought us back to the UK to live, and we have relocated to Hertfordshire.

Aside from writing and reading, my passions include yoga and Pilates, chocolate and a good measure of Baileys on ice :-)

Interview

1) Could you tell a bit about yourself?

I'm a mum of two, living with my husband and children in Hertfordshire. I've been writing fiction seriously since 2011 and now have three books published. It's my dream career for sure!

2) Suze: You've lived in Australia for a long time, but are now living in the UK again. Why have you chosen to set your stories in Australia?

My first three stories were already well and truly underway (two were almost finished) before we returned to the UK and my third novel, What Rosie Found Next, is set in the fictitious town of Magnolia Creek. It's the first in the Magnolia Creek Series so I'll still be setting my books in Australia for a little while yet.
I think when you've lived somewhere for such a long time (14 years) the way of life becomes ingrained in you and it's easier to write when you've had such close experience with the setting.
I'm thinking of writing a Christmas novel for 2016 however, and I think that'll be set in the UK. Really looking forward to writing it as it'll be something totally different for me.

3) Suze/Tanya What's your favourite place in Australia? Australia is a big place where would you tell a first time visitor that they should visit and why?

My favourite place / city is Melbourne. I love everything from the climate and the outdoor lifestyle, to the cosmopolitan feel and the friendly people. I really miss it, especially when I'm answering these sorts of questions. I lived in Sydney for 5 years but never fell in love with it the same way unfortunately.

There are so many places you should visit! Melbourne and Sydney are top of my list...both fabulous, yet different cities. Melbourne is gorgeous with its little laneways, the culture, the easiness of the city for finding your way around. Sydney has the stunning harbour, amazing beaches. I'd recommend going up to Palm Beach for sure...it's the setting for Home and Away and it's lovely. Some days I'd treat myself and drive up there as it was only half an hour from our house, and I'd take a book and sit on the grass by Snapperman Beach. Okay, now I'm missing Australia heaps!!

The Great Barrier Reef is another must. I snorkelled, went up in a helicopter to see the heart-shaped reef, went to Hamilton Island and South Molle. Amazing stuff. 

4) Tanya: You seem very knowledgeable about bush fires is it something you have to deal with regularly? Or something that you have unfortunately have experience off?

Bushfires are a way of life in Australia. We always lived in the suburbs but not in the country so it wasn't a massive concern for us. I have friends and a brother who live out in the country however, so for them they have to be extra careful. I interviewed Elissa Jans for my research for What Rosie Found Next and she works as a volunteer with the CFA (Country Fire Authority). They do an amazing job every year and the fact that it's voluntary is outstanding, showing how Aussies pull together so well.

5) Suze: Your main characters have been through a lot, where do you find inspiration to tell their life stories?

I like to create characters who are real and have challenges that any one of us may face, whether it's a health scare (Handle Me with Care), family problems (What Rosie Found Next), or running away from a past (The Friendship Tree). I get my inspiration from all around me, what I read in the newspaper, see on the television, my own life experiences.

6) Tanya/Suze Your female main character in What Rosie Found Next, is very strong and determined do you think that is a quality that you have? What do you like most about her?

I'm not sure I'm quite as strong as Rosie, but I'm proud of the way she turned out when I created her. She's had her challenges and tries to do the right thing and Rosie isn't afraid to stand up for herself either. And she always sees the best in people too which I really like. I think sometimes people can come across in a different way when they have something going on in their life, but Rosie sees the good in people. 

7) Tanya: Is there a particular place in Australia that you would like to visit again and who with?

Of course...I'd love to go to Melbourne again with my family as we have lots of friends there. One day we will but not for a while yet. It's a long way!

8) Tanya/Suze What are your plans this Christmas? As Christmas is part of your novel, could you tell your experience of Christmas in Australia versus Christmas in the UK?

This Christmas it'll be the first in our new house so we're very excited! Our neighbour has invited us for drinks in the morning so while the turkey is cooking I'll have a glass of Prosecco i'm sure :-) We will have lunch at home and then we all love the Christmas movies so we'll be watching a few of them. 
Christmas in Australia was never too different for us, apart from the weather. We still had the big dinner even if it meant putting the air conditioning on!

9) Tanya/Suze You always describe food really well in your novels, where does your inspiration for it come from? As we are on the run up to Christmas could you describe what you will be eating?

Wow, I never realised I described food so well! It must be all those lovely Aussie restaurants I went to during my time there. I lived a five minute walk from Southbank and they have the most amazing seafood there. 

We will be having turkey of course, with pigs in blankets, gravy, a selection of vegetables. Usually we're all too full for dessert straight away but I'll get some mini Christmas puddings for later in the afternoon. I'm really hoping it doesn't rain so we can all get outside for a walk and work off some of the Christmas dinner!

10) Suze: What are your 3 favourite Australian writers or books?

I love Lianne Moriarty, Dianne Blacklock and Monica McInerney. I started reading Monica McInerney's books a few years ago and I loved the settings...really vivid. Lianne Moriarty has written two incredible books: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies so I'm a lifelong fan!

11) What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on book 4 - first run through since completing the first draft so I'm hoping that'll be out in 2016 some time. It'll be a standalone book but book 2 in the Magnolia Creek Series so will have some of the same characters who appeared in What Rosie Found Next. It has been a lot of fun to write and I fell in love with Magnolia Creek.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive kindle copies of The Friendship Tree, Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next. Good luck!


I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Dec 13, 2015

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview With Angela Britnell & Giveaway!


About Angela Britnell

I was born in the beautiful county of Cornwall in southwestern England and grew up in a small village there. I return frequently to visit family and friends but especially to savor the cool rainy weather and hot tea. After school I joined the Royal Navy and served for nearly six years. I held varying jobs from being the only woman in the staff of a sports center to arranging social engagements for the Captain of the base. My last assignment was to Denmark where I thought I would spend a wild two years in Copenhagen only to discover I was being sent to a NATO Headquarters in a quiet town on the Jutland Peninsula. I was only disappointed for a while as I met my own tall, dark, handsome stranger there – a US Naval Officer named Richard who became my husband.

That was the beginning of an itinerant life as from Denmark we went to Sicily where we had our first son. Then it was on to Monterey, California and the birth of our second son. From there we headed to Patuxent River, Maryland where we had our third son. Richard’s last assignment was to London where we spent a wonderful three years. Retiring from the Navy he took a job in Brentwood, Tennessee near where he grew up. Since 2008 we are empty nesters which allows more time for my writing.

I have always been a voracious reader, even at 5 years old my school reports show a keen interest in English and very little in math – some things never change! Although I enjoyed writing in school it wasn’t until 2001 that I was tempted to take a creative writing class at a local recreation center which has sparked my new career.

When I’m not busy writing I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I try to grow English flowers in the Tennessee heat and succeed some of the time. I belong to the wonderful Red Bandanas Writing Group, Jubilee Readers Book Club, and volunteer at my local library so you can see that words are important to me.

I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it so sit back, make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a break from everyday life.

You can find Angela on her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Interview

1. What is your best Christmas memory?

I love how every family’s traditions are unique and that we all think our own are the way it should be! As an only child we had a relatively quiet Christmas Day and it never varied. We started with opening our stockings before breakfast. That was followed by going to church and coming home for a traditional turkey lunch. We would have tea and chocolate biscuits while listening to the Queen at 3pm. Then it was finally time to open our presents – my husband thought it was terrible to make a child wait until so late in the day but I didn’t realise it was unusual at the time. We’d have more tea with homemade Christmas cake around five o’clock and later it would of course be turkey sandwiches for supper.

2. What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

First I’ll choose Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ because it completely embodies the spirit of the season with wonderful characters that still live and breathe off the page over 160 years after they were created. My second choice is ‘The Night before Christmas.’ I don’t remember it from my childhood but was introduced to the story by my American husband. We bought a copy when we had our first baby and started our own tradition of reading it to our boys every Christmas Eve after we hung up our stockings. I’m now looking forward to reading it to our first grandson who’s due in April! I debated about my third book and finally decided on ‘The Jolly Postman.’ This magical children’s book with envelopes to open and letters to read fascinated my children and despite being handled by three lively boys the book has survived (almost) unscathed.

3. One person to celebrate Christmas with.

I went backwards and forwards on this one and finally decided on the Queen. I think it’d be amazing to experience her traditional Christmas and I’m sure she’d have some incredible stories to tell over the sherry and mince pies!

4. My thoughts on Santa

The traditions of a loving, generous figure who brings gifts in the middle of a long, dark winter vary around the world but the different names and customs only prove that these emotions have no borders and we are far more similar than we are different.

5. My best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gift ever was a shoe box full of beautiful clothes hand-sewn for my Sindy doll (she was the English version of Barbie back in the dark ages) by my Aunt Rene and cousin Marlene. They were so much better than anything you could buy and I particularly remember a beautiful dark green satin evening dress. My only regret is that they disappeared over the years because I’d love to still have them.

My worst gift has to be the sewing machine my dear husband gave me about twenty-five years ago. That particular Christmas I was suffering with the flu and his family from Tennessee were visiting us in Maryland for the holidays. Richard video-taped our present opening time to send to my family in Cornwall so there I am with a red nose, feeling like death, and trying desperately to smile as I open my gifts. I will admit that afterwards I did give in and learn the basics of how to use the machine. I made Halloween costumes and outfits for school plays etc for my 3 boys – nothing that would withstand scrutiny from any genuine sewers but good enough to last for the day! I’ve now passed on the machine to one of my daughters-in-law, who enjoys sewing, with my blessing!

6. Your favourite Christmas song

I know I’ll be slammed for this but I have to confess to a real dislike of sentimental Christmas songs – the first time I hear ‘White Christmas’ played each year it makes me want to run away and hide until the season is over. But I do love traditional Christmas carols and my favourite is ‘Silent Night’ preferably sung in a candlelit church at midnight on Christmas Eve. Then I know it really is Christmas.

7. Your favourite Christmas movie

I’m also not a fan of sweet, sentimental Christmas movies but could watch ‘Love Actually’ over and over again because it captures the spirit of the season without being sickly!

8. Top 3 books you’re giving as Christmas presents.

‘Slow Roads Tennessee’ for my mother-in-law. It’s a lovely pictorial record of the back roads and small towns of Tennessee including the area where she grew up. My oldest son is getting ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ and my middle son has asked for Orson Scott Card’s ‘First Formic War’ books.

9. Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas.

These are intertwined because my most favourite is sharing a traditional Christmas meal with my family and the least is clearing up afterwards with all the dishes to be washed!

10. Best food

– Warm mince pies with Cornish clotted cream, with either a glass of sherry or a mug of scalding hot tea! I didn’t realise putting out mince pies and sherry out for Santa was unusual until my husband said they always did milk and cookies – no wonder Santa preferred coming to our house That’s one tradition I continued with our own children and considered it a well-earned reward by the time we got them to bed on Christmas Eve!

Giveaway


One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize. The winner of the giveaway can choose a kindle book from Angela Britnell's amazing range of titles. Good luck!


Dec 12, 2015

Christmas Countdown: Interview with Maxine Morrey & Giveaway!


About Maxine

Maxine Morrey, author of Winter’s Fairytale. Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first she won a handful of book tokens - perfect for a young bookworm! As years went by, she continued to write, but ‚normal’ work often got in the way. Finally, she really decided to go for it, and wrote. Really wrote. And after a while she had a bunch of articles, and a non fiction book to her name. But her real love is writing novels and the magical escapism it affords – for both writer and reader. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through as the publishers succumbed to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities. In August 2015, she won Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition. Her first romantic comedy from HarperCollins (Carina UK), ‚Winter’s Fairytale’, was released in November. Maxine lives in Sussex, England with her husband and when not wrangling with words, can be found adding to her To Be Read pile, sewing, walking and wondering when they are going to invent a robot for ironing.

Interview

What’s your best Christmas memory?

In 2007, we were living in the US and my parents came over for a few weeks around Christmas. It was so lovely to have them there! We had some fab times exploring the area, and visiting a couple of theme parks. On Christmas Day, we had a traditional turkey with all the trimmings – and even managed to track down some sprouts for my Dad! Not quite so traditional was the fact that we had to have the local news on as there was a hurricane tracking right for us so we were keeping a watchful eye!

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

The Christmas Mystery – Jostein Gaarder

This is such a lovely Christmas read that I discovered many years ago, quite by accident. It’s a real anecdote to all the commercialisation that surround the season now. Although it features the traditional Christian story, it’s so much more than that and is more about adventure and discovery and human emotion than it is religion.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Not exactly a traditional Christmas read, I know. What I love about reading this book around Christmas is the whole idea of being cosy and warm inside whilst in my head I’m with Jane, tramping on the freezing, windswept moors of Yorkshire.

Book 3

I’m saving this space! For my third choice, I’m going to have to save a spot! There’s been a whole raft of lovely Christmas books released over the last couple of months and I now have a huge pile just waiting to be read! I know that once I’ve read these I’m going to end up with a lot more favourites.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

I think I would choose my grandfather. He was killed in an RTA whilst waiting to be sent home from Germany a few months after the war had finished. We’ve never had much information on him but everything we have found suggests he was a lovely, and funny man. I have so many questions! So the chance to spend time with him would be wonderful.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

I’m a little old to believe in Father Christmas these days! But I love the concept of him and I really think that children should be encouraged to believe in him for as long as is humanly possible! They grow up far too fast these days so anything that can be done to keep hold of their sense of wonder and belief in magic should really be encouraged.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best gift would probably have to be one from quire a few years ago now that my lovely husband bought me as a total surprise, and that’s my Magimix. I was so amazed when I opened it as they’re not cheap and I never thought I’d have one! I know they say that kitchen appliances aren’t necessarily the best present a man can give his partner but I can honestly say he wasn’t in trouble at all! Ha ha! I thought it was beautiful and still use the heck out of it! It’s a real workhorse and I love it. He’d even gone to the trouble of getting it sent to my parents so that there was no risk of me seeing it delivered so it was a total surprise!

I really can’t think of any gifts I’d classify as ‘worst’ – I tend to think that it’s very nice that someone went to the effort of thinking about me at all!

Your favourite Christmas song?

‘Baby Please Come Home’ by Michael Bublé. Lovely and Christmassy and great to bop around to in the kitchen.

Your favourite Christmas movie?

Ooh, I’m kind of torn here between ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Elf’. I love all the intricacies of ‘Love Actually’ and how the stories intertwine with each other. It covers a whole range of emotions and shows that Christmas isn’t always just this ‘perfect’ thing – when you throw people in the mix, things generally get messy, because people aren’t perfect. But then ‘Elf’, with a 6’4” Will Ferrell dressed up is just sweet and funny and daft – the revolving door scene cracks me up every time! I think he’s quite underestimated as an actor – he conveys the emotions in that film from joy to sadness, so well.

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

Precious Gifts by Danielle Steele – My mum is a huge fan so she’ll love this.

Big Sam, My Autobiography by Sam Allardyce – My Mum in Law is a massive football fan and Big Sam was the manager at her team for quite a while so I think she’ll enjoy getting all the gossip from the man himself.

Make Me by Lee Child – Dad really enjoys the Jack Reacher series so this will give him something to dive into on Christmas Day.

Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

My favourite bit is probably the first night the decorations are up, when the lights are low and the tree is twinkling and it just starts feeling really festive.

My least favourite part is the over commercialisation of it all. The stress that people can sometimes feel under to put on the ‘perfect’ Christmas and get the ‘right’ presents can take away from the simple joy of being together.

I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

I love all the little bits, the nibbles! Christmas Day tea and Boxing Day is generally just bits and bobs like turkey sandwiches, salad, ham & cheese puffs, cheese and biscuits – and of course, cake! All the things like that are my absolute favourite!

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Dec 11, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Helen Pollard & Giveaway!


About Helen Pollard

Helen says about herself that f you love contemporary romance with a dash of humour and good old-fashioned heart, then you should feel at home with her. She firmly believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right? 

You can find Helen on her website and on Twitter. She is the author of Holding Back and Warm Hearts in Winter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory? 

Singing Christmas songs with the kids as we tramp across the (hopefully snow-covered) fields at Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire on our way to a bowl of homemade soup at a farm café on Christmas Eve. We try to do it every year.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

For a few years, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham was one I enjoyed re-reading. Last year I enjoyed Trisha Ashley’s romances A Winter’s Tale and Twelve Days of Christmas. I’d love to read some of the fab Christmas titles that are out this December, but I’m really strugling for time at the moment. Maybe next year …

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

I’d love to spend a Christmas with my late grandad again. He was such a laid-back character. I want to ask him why he couldn’t have passed on more of those easygoing, don’t-believe-in-stress genes to the rest of the family! He would probably just snooze his way through the afternoon film like he did every year after Christmas dinner, bless him. It was a good job we knew those James Bond films off by heart, because we couldn’t hear the words over his snoring!

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I love the whole Santa thing. As long as he’s sensible and doesn’t spoil anyone too much, I think he adds a wonderful touch of magic to the season.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best? Having my love of Christmas reignited when my children were small.

Worst? When I was little, a relative gave me a Christmas annual (Bunty or something similar) dated for theprevious year. My mum was so cross about it!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Gosh, that’s a hard question, but you can’t beat Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas with that wonderful velvet voice of his.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

I think it has to be White Christmas. Toe-tapping songs, great dancing, unashamed schmaltz, and those incredible dresses … I always weep when it snows at the end. I just can’t help myself.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts, a sweet romance ideal for cat lovers and therefore for a good friend of mine.

Giles Cartoons for my dad – he loves those political cartoons from the newspapers – they take him back to younger days.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond collection for the family – I read them all when I was a teenager and now my kids want to try them to see how they differ from the films. 

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Favourite? Christmas Eve, when the anticipation is still sweet. I like a brisk walk in the countryside to blow away the cobwebs before the inevitable incarceration indoors for the following few days.

Least favourite? When the tree and decorations start getting jaded. I always end up taking them down earlier than the prescribed date.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Roast chestnuts to go with the mulled wine!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:


Three very cute pencils and a turtle gemstone bookmark. Good luck!


Dec 10, 2015

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Mika Jolie & Giveaway


About Mika Jolie

Mika Jolie lives in New Jersey with her happy Chaos—her husband and their energizer bunnies. She loves to write about life experiences and matters of the heart. Let’s face it, people are complicated and love can be messy. When she’s not weaving life and romance into evocative tales, you can find her on a hiking adventure, apple picking, or whatever her three men can conjure up. You can find her on her website or on Twitter.

Interview

1) What’s your best Christmas memory? 

The smell of a Christmas tree. It’s amazing! Even now, years later the sweet smell of fresh pine always takes me back to my childhood. 

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss are two favorites of mine. And I’m a big Berenstain Bears fan, so reading The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving to our boys is always a treat.

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one-time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

Hands down my father. He passed away in January. This is our first Christmas without him. He’ll be missed.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

(Smiles): It’s impossible not to love Santa. The man is magical, he’s jolly, he loves cookies and milk. But I do want to know how he’s able to visit so many children on a single night.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best gift for me every year is to be surrounded by family. Worst gift, this is a tough one. Probably, the framed picture of the dog my husband gave me a couple of years ago. Picture the print of the dogs’ playing cards but fifty times worst. To this day, I have no idea what to do with it.

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Happy Christmas, War is Over by John Lennon. This song gets me every time.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

Oh man, I have a few. My top three would be: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the cartoon. Classic. A Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton is a genius. I can watch A Christmas Story over and over and laugh at the same line. This movie can never get old for me. FRA-GEE_LAY, it must be Italian. (Laughs). See, I’m laughing now.

8) Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

 Other than my books? (Laughs) Wrapped in Red is definitely on that list. I love everything about this book, the cover, the plot, the characters and it takes place between the twelve days of Christmas. Magic! How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie (Home for the Holidays, Book 1) by Gina Henning is on that list, such a sweet feel good novel and last but not least In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This book is rather dark, but it’s one of my faves so why not share the love.

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favorite…the whole thing. I love the craziness—the tree chopping, a fire crackling in the fireplace, Christmas music playing in the background as the boys decorate the tree, the smell of roasting chestnuts. I love it all.

10) I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Everything. My husband’s mother side of the family is of Italian descent. I’m Haitian-American. My Grandmother was French. See the picture here. Yes, we love food. On Christmas Eve, we have the feast of the seven fishes, this is a Southern Italian and now Italian-American custom in which a grand meal of at least seven different kinds of seafood is served before Midnight Mass.

In my culture we celebrate “réveillon” which means “awakening”, a tradition the Creoles inherited from their European cousins as a way of breaking the daylong religious fast leading up to Christmas Eve. This is a long dinner held after returning from midnight mass. Yes, we’d have a big meal at two in the morning.

I remember doing this as a child and staying up all night with friends, family and just having a great time. When we got married, we didn’t want to lose either tradition, so we compromised. The feast of the seven fishes continues to be on Christmas Eve but now done on a smaller scale, meaning not too many people but just the same amount of food (laughs) and on Christmas Day we celebrate “réveillon” with everyone.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a wonderful prize:

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A kindle copy of Wrapped in Red plus a beautiful piece of jewelry from Etsy. Good luck!


Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview With Louise Marley & Giveaway!


About Louise Marley

Louise writes romantic comedy and romantic suspense, and sometimes mixes the two! The first story she had published was a short story in Take a Break. It was about a dog (based on her own dog, Lewis) who liked to chase joggers. Her first novel was published after she was a finalist in a competition run by Poolbeg Press to ‘Write a Bestseller’. This was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Louise’s books have now sold over 130,000 copies, have been #1 in romance and romantic suspense and have spent over 7 months in the Amazon UK Top 100. You can find Louise on herwebsite, as well as on Twitter. And many other social media websites

Interview

What’s your best Christmas memory?

I got engaged on Christmas Eve! I’d been out to the pub with my boyfriend (now husband!) and when we arrived home he said something like, ‘Oh look, Santa’s been’. And when I checked my Christmas stocking, I found an engagement ring! Technically, I suppose that means I’m engaged to Santa Claus …

What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley is still my all-time favourite Christmas book. It has everything, including a host of eccentric characters snowed into a lovely big old house – and a very hot hero! My other favourites are A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens andSkipping Christmas by John Grisham, which is a very funny story about a couple who decide to skip celebrating Christmas. It was made into a movie (Christmas with the Kranks), but the book is much better!

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a onetime special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

I think I would choose my grandmother. She died shortly after I married but she always loved Christmas, and she passed that enthusiasm on to me. She was the one who told me all the stories behind the Christmas customs and many of the traditions we still follow were hers. Her love for Christmas was all the more remarkable considering her husband (my grandfather) was killed in the Sheffield Blitz a few weeks before Christmas, leaving her with a three-year-old daughter (my mother). Having Christmas (a time where everyone is expected to be happy) as the anniversary of his death must have been very difficult for her but she was the kind of person who always put other people before herself.

What are your thoughts about Santa?

Many people don’t realise he was a real person – a 4th century bishop – hence his red robes. His real name was Nikolaos of Myra, although he later became known as St Nicholas. Try saying ‘St Nicholas’ over and over again, very fast, and see what you end up with. Yep, ‘Santa Claus’. The red coat and trousers were popularised by the Coca Cola adverts in the 1930s, but the idea of a man delivering presents down a chimney, and travelling by sleigh and reindeer, came from the Clement Clarke Moore poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

My best Christmas gift was that engagement ring – thank you Santa! And I really can’t tell you about my worst Christmas gift. It is the thought that counts after all!

Your favourite Christmas song?

I LOVE Christmas music and would play it all year round if I could. Don’t make me pick just one!!! My favourites are the Otis Redding version of White Christmas, The Christmas Song by the Raveonettes and, of course, All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.

Your favourite Christmas movie?

Elf! I force my poor family to watch it every year. We can quote whole chunks to each other …

Top 3 books that you’re giving as Christmas presents?

I have bought copies of A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley, The Captain’s Christmas Bride by Annie Burrows and The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, for three different people – but I can’t say who they are for, in case they read this!

Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

My favourite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve, with the anticipation of everything to come. My least favourite part used to be the washing up after Christmas dinner, but after I delegated the job to my husband we got a dishwasher. Funny that …

I must ask, sorry – the best Christmas food is…?

Christmas pudding! With mince pies as a close second.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize:


A kindle copy of Something Wicked, a signed copy of A Girl's Best Friend and wonderful stationery gift will be for the winner of the giveaway. Good luck!


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