Last weekend, I finished reading A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn, a great holiday novel I reviewed here. Darcie Boleyn kindly answered a few questions. Hope you’ll enjoy learning more about her!
Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us more about yourself? How did you become an author?
D.B: I’ve always written, and as a child I used to enter short story and poetry competitions. This continued when I went to university but then, as life became busier, writing took a back seat. I nursed the dream to write for years when my children were young, and I tried to write a novel but spent far too much time procrastinating, which meant that it didn’t get finished. A few years ago, my husband encouraged me to really try again, and following a few false starts, I finally had that amazing acceptance email. Since then, I haven’t stopped!
Your latest novel A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is a festive, enchanting read whose main character, Lucie, has a very dark, heartbreaking past. Where did you find the inspiration to write such a poignant story that manages to combine both light and deep content?
Thank you so much! I try to combine comedy with reality in my writing. I want to create moments where readers laugh out loud but also ones where they feel other emotions, as, after all, life is a mixture of good and bad times. I also aim to give my characters motivation for their behaviour and decisions, whether linked to positive or negative experiences. I begin with an outline and character profiles, but as I write, these take off in all directions and the characters tell me things about themselves; it’s very exciting. Lucie was actually hiding her darkest secret from me, until I reached the point where she reveals it. I had an idea of what it was but when she actually spoke about it, even I was surprised.
What do you love the most about storytelling?
Creating new characters and watching as their lives unfold. It’s a very enjoyable process and the way I described it recently to my husband was like entering a dark corridor where the lights come on automatically, one at a time, as I move forwards. I don’t always know exactly what’s at the end, or even the next step, but as one light comes on, I can see more of the way ahead and this keeps going until I reach the end.
What do you find hardest in the writing process?
The fact that I have a day job too. There are days when I long to just stay home and write but I can’t and this definitely slows me down. Also, when you write, you’re putting yourself out there, and if you’re gentle and a softy like me, you do have to try to toughen up when it comes to some of the more critical reviews.
Can you describe your typical writing day?
I write whenever and wherever I can, although my most productive time seems to be early morning straight after breakfast. I make a cup of tea or coffee, read over my notes and the previous scene, visualize the scene I’m about to write, then off I go!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers willing to write a good Christmas story?
All stories are different and depend upon the author’s own views of Christmas and own experiences. For me, a Christmas story should include some traditional Christmas themes and activities but also create that all important festive setting. Elements such as the weather and music can all help to pull the reader into your novel, so really appeal to the five senses. In a more general sense, I would encourage aspiring authors to keep trying. The success of the ebook industry means that there are more opportunities to become a published author than in the past. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you just have to sit down and write. You can edit later, but you have to get the words down on the page first.
Are you currently working on a new novel? If yes, can you tell us more about it?
I’m working on a summer novel right now and it’s set in beautiful Italy. I don’t want to say too much at this point because it’s early days, but I hope to have some very good news to reveal in coming months.
Thank you so much for hosting me at your lovely blog! Have a fabulous Christmas!
Love, Darcie XXX
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.
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Warm your heart with this perfectly festive romance…
Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.
Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.
In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?
A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas – Book Spotlight
In my writing, themes such as the importance of family and friends and the modern family unit often emerge. I’m a hopeless romantic; I believe in true love, and that it’s worth fighting for. I also adore Christmas and hope to spend it in New York one year. I went out to Manhattan in late October 2009 and my husband proposed to me in Times Square, so New York has a special place in my heart.
A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is about two friends, Lucie and Dale, who’ve always been there for each other. This year, Lucie has been asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Christmas wedding in New York. She asks Dale to go with her because they do everything together and because she can’t imagine going without him.
I wrote the story in the summer, as often happens with Christmas books. My family find the whole process quite amusing, as while the sun is shining outside the window (on those days when we get sunshine, of course) and others are jetting off on exotic holidays, I’m hidden away in my study humming along to Christmas tunes and yearning for a mince pie.
My inspiration for the story started as a seed of an idea that bloomed into a novel. I love festive stories, especially A Christmas Carol, and one day I started thinking about a character who might, in some ways, be a modern female version of Ebenezer Scrooge – but not as miserable or miserly. I thought, what if there were a few ghosts of Christmas past haunting her; a few events that she couldn’t quite get over? Then I added a very positive spirit of Christmas present – to help her learn to love the festive season – in the hunky form of Dale.
But will he be the spirit of Christmas future?
You’ll have to read A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas to find out!