Just before I left for Salzburg I finished reading Scarlett Bailey’s novel, The Night Before Christmas, which I really enjoyed. Then I happened to come across her on Twitter and Facebook and took the plunge: I asked her if I could interview her for kimtalksbooks. The Night Before Christmas is Scarlett’s debut novel–plus she also wrote a novella called Santa, Maybe which was her 2011 advent calendar–a chapter a day–what a brilliant idea! 🙂 Catch it while you can–she’ll be taking it down soon…
And I apologize for takng so long to post this…going away for Christmas and then coming home and trying to work from home has been a bit insane… 🙂
Prior to publishing The Night Before Christmas, Scarlett worked as a bookseller, waitress, barmaid and cinema usherette. She lives in Hertfordshire with her dog and her collection of beautiful shoes (I should have asked about the shoes–I love shoes)…
Q: Could you tell us what inspired the story of The Night Before Christmas?
A: I just love Christmas, so I wanted to write a really Christmassy book – and for me, growing up in family that split up when I was child, I identified with Lydia’s search for that perfect Christmas, the one time when everything will be just right – she’s never had that before.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of The Night Before Christmas? How long did it take until you had a final draft you were satisfied with?
A: It was quick to write, because it was so much fun and I was so full of ideas. Three months for the first draft, and then another two until it was finished.
Q: Lydia’s dilemma is the stuff of movies. When you were writing, did you envision any actors or actresses to play the leads? Or did you find inspiration elsewhere?
A: I didn’t have an actor in mind for Lydia, and I think it’s best to try and imagine you characters from scratch, I think it makes them more real. However, I now picture Will as actor Aidan Turner – best known at the moment for playing Mitchell in Being Human, though soon to appear in the Hobbit movie. He does rather seem to fit the bill perfectly!
Q: I’m a big fan of Christmas movies. My top five are It’s a Wonderful Life, the Holiday, the Family Stone, Elf and Love Actually. Which Christmas films would you say are your top five and why those five?
A: I love It’s A Wonderful Life, it’s such a great Christmas story of redemption and hope, The Sound of Music, never get bored of Julie Andrews making outfits out of curtains, I also love Elf, it’s probably the only modern Christmas film that I really enjoy. Miracle on 34th Street, the perfect film to watch whenever you need reminding magic is real and Bing Crosby singing ‘White Christmas’ in Holiday Inn, just for that reason.
Q: How would you describe your typical writing day?
A: I get up pretty early, write until about 5. I write a lot of words in a day, and then spend the next day throwing about half of them away!
Q: Do you have a special place where you like to write? Could you describe it for us?
A: I now have my own writing room, which I am very proud of. I have a window, with a view of rooftops, a really nice desk that used to belong to my gran, and lots of photographs of friends and family all around.
Q: Did you have a special playlist or soundtrack which you listened to while writing The Night Before Christmas? Could you share it with us?
A: I can’t listen to music when I’m writing because I just end up singing and dancing and not writing, but while I’ve been putting together my Christmas Advent Calendar novella ‘Santa, Maybe’ I’ve used song titles for most chapters, and so I’ve been listening to a lot of Christmas songs, looking for ones that fit the story, My most favourite is ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,’ as sung by Judy Garland.
Q: Your Advent calendar novella (with a new chapter for every day) is fantastic. What inspired this particular story?
A: Ha! Thank you, for saying so. I was inspired to do something nice for the people that have read The Night Before Christmas, enjoyed it and wanted more. As its my first novel there is no more, so I had the idea of an advent calendar with a chapter of a Christmas story behind each window as a ‘thank you’ for all the lovely support I’ve been getting. I didn’t realise it would end up being about twenty-five thousand words long! I wanted it to be fun, magical, and super Christmassy – and I’ve been writing a chapter a day since December the 1st! I still don’t now how it will end…
Q: Will your next novel also focus on Christmas? Have you already begun working on it?
A: Yes, I’m writing it now, and yes it will be Christmassy again. It’s called ‘Married By Christmas’ and it’s about Anna, who with only two weeks to go until her Christmas Eve wedding, finds out her boyfriend is still married to a Vegas Show girl!!
Q: What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
A: Keep writing, the more you write the better you get. And read a lot. The best way to learn to build a book is to read, read and then do some more reading!
Thanks to Scarlett for answering my questions! Want to find out more about Scarlett and her writing? Look her up on Facebook and “like” her fan page. And, even though it’s no longer Christmas, we’ve got a long winter ahead of us, so pick up a copy of The Night Before Christmas and get lost in a fun, romantic book!