'A Shetland Christmas Carol' is officially out in the big wide world as the first reviewers and blogger are given the chance to read it, prior to publication on 29th September. It's a bitter sweet moment for me; I want others to read it but it signals a point of no return. Over the coming weeks, I'll receive feedback and reviews which I'll hopefully be able to share with my followers. Finger crossed, they'll have read the previous three books and will be up to speed with the characters and story line. The series can be read as standalone books but it makes more sense if read in order.
To pre-order your copy from Amazon: press here
The last five years have flown by, so I thought I'd share my very first Q&A interview which was used by my then publisher, Aria for publicity prior to the book launch. It's interesting to note the answer to question 5 has changed considerably!
1. Can you tell us more about your novel, A Christmas Wish?
Sometimes in life you have to face your fears and discover the truth in order to move forward and find happiness. Flora was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep, she believes her beginnings have tainted the first three decades of her life. A Christmas Wish follows Flora’s journey as she tries to discover the truth about her biological mother in order to create a future for herself. During her quest, Flora meets numerous characters who offer help and guidance, some more than others.
2. How did you come up with the idea for this novel?
I know my family history and ancestral roots so, have often wondered how other people cope when you don’t have the facts or truly understand their beginnings. I’ve watched many tv programmes about fostering, adoption and foundlings who have openly shared their stories and feelings. I am always amazed by their courage to face adversity and enjoy the life they have, whilst seeking the truth. I’m not sure I would have coped with such looming questions surrounding my beginnings.
3. Where did you get the inspiration for the character of Flora?
We all know how it feels to feel different and awkward amongst a crowd, be it friends, family or loved ones. I think it’s human nature to want to fit in with our chosen crowd - have the same qualities or traits as our friends. Likewise, I think it’s an innate response that we wish to protect, support and assist those that we see having a rough time in life. Flora and her best friends, Lisa and Steph have such a bond which has withstood the test of time. Flora wishes to be free of her niggling insecurities to secure a happy future. The past six months have been tough and she’s certain all the bad luck stems from her beginnings. My great-grandmother was called Flora, which I felt was the perfect name for an individual with a delicate situation who needs to grow and potentially blossom.
4. Do you have a favourite part or scene from A Christmas Wish? Could you tell us why you love it?
I have numerous favourite scenes, I hope I don’t ruin the surprises for my readers. It goes without saying that I love the scenes that contain romance – a little flirtation does us good.I love fairy-tale settings where an author can create a perfect evening of magic and romance so the winter picnic is a special setting. Flora’s arrival at The Peacock pub is a particular example because I love the warm atmosphere that welcomes her. I adore people like Annie, the landlady. Annie-types are warm, loving and are not afraid to show they care. They don’t stand on ceremony, have no airs and graces yet focus on the priorities of life – taking others under their wing. They’ll give you their last penny and yet, are nobody’s fool. Flora needs a secure home during her stay, like a freshly feathered nest and she finds it at The Peacock pub. Another favourite scene is quite an emotional one so, even though it makes me cry, I’m glad I included it as it honours people who have left my life.
5. What does your average writing day look like?
My average writing day is a little strange. Recently, I’ve started to write very early in the morning arriving at my desk at 5am on weekdays. I tend to work for an hour, then hastily switch from my imagination to greet reality and the day-job. At lunchtime, I can sometimes squeeze in a little research or a quick writing session otherwise I have to wait until evening for a second writing session. Weekends are different, I tend to secure one day as a writing day, the other is downtime spent with my husband. The dream would be to be a full-time author and simply write.
6. Who are some of your own favourite authors at the moment?
I have an eclectic mix of current authors – I tend to switch genres depending on my current writing project. I tend to move away from commercial romances whilst creating my first draft and then drift back once I reach the editing stage. There’s quite a few, for years I love anything by Jill Mansell, Marian Keyes, Jo Thomas and Katie Fforde. In recent years, I have also read Bella Osborne, Helen Phifer, Cally L Taylor, Miranda Dickenson, Rowan Coleman and Julie Cohen. I take delight in Ian Rankin, Stephen King and Bill Bryson when I’m looking for a change. My guilty pleasure that takes me back to my teenage years is Agatha Christie – oh, to be that age again and read all day!
7. What message do you want readers to take away from your novel?
Simply that despite your past, everyone can have a fresh start and enjoy a new beginning.
8. Has any other writer in particular influenced the way you write?
I remember reading Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes and loving the honesty with which the story is told. I felt the same with Jemima J by Jane Green. As a reader, both books introduced me to an individual I could relate too. I think it’s the honesty and depth of emotion regarding their situations that lifts from the page.
9. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Work towards your dream. Dreams are like house plants you need to constantly feed, nurture and water the roots then one day quite unexpectedly it blossoms - thanks to your dedicated care and attention.
10. Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?
I am currently editing book two – the underlying theme is beauty and the beast. In life, I’ve met many people who society deem as talented, inspirational and polished beauties but sadly, sometimes their actions, behaviour and hearts can be pretty beastly. Whereas other people can be shunned by society or overlooked for how they appear, act or live and yet have beautiful souls. Book two is a romance entwining elements of each helping to redefine how the protagonist, Esme Peel, the only girl in a house-share with all males, views other people. Esme receives ‘lessons in life’ from the unlikeliest candidate and re-evaluates her own beliefs and values regards those she once loved and loathed.
The final facts were difficult to create knowing that no one, outside of the editorial team, has read a copy. I've avoided plot spoilers which would ruin your enjoyment come September.
1. I used to teach ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Dickens to GCSE pupils at a local secondary school.
2. As a child, my favourite picture was ‘Special pleader’ by Charles Burton Barber, a common ‘over the mantelpiece’ picture in the 70s. It isn’t a Sheltie that’s featured but a rough collie, which reminds me of Lassie, but still I adore the sable colouring and the billow of white upon the dog’s chest.
3. The song sung by the duo at the auditions is actually my morning alarm call! It makes me smile each day.
4. Some of the animal names for dogs, puppies and alpacas were offered by the general public after my request for suggestions on social media. Their names are listed in the book’s ‘Acknowledgements’.
5. I also loved teaching Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’.
6. I know one of the presenters from QVC and she’s an absolute doll! I don’t know how she keeps talking non-stop whilst measuring, demoing, trying on or listening to constant instructions in her ear.
7. When I was four, I sung a solo on stage at Sunday school. The stage seemed incredibly large and empty positioned beneath huge stone archways and leaded windows.
8. I used to work in a high street bank, so encountered many people struggling with money management.
9. The word ‘peacock’ is in every book I have written - I was particularly delighted with the placement of this peacock feather.
10. I cried whilst editing this book. Cried again at each stage of my editor’s edits plus, the final proofreading. I’ve had this cast of characters inside my head every day since April 2019 until April 2022 – it’s going to difficult to say ‘goodbye’.
1. As a teenager, I had a weekend waitressing job at a local hotel which saw me through high school and college. Friday night restaurant, weddings and Sunday lunch shifts paid for my first car.
2. I used to teach yoga.
3. As a child, our village had a mobile vegetable van which visited designated streets on a weekly basis. The memory inspired Pippa’s deliveries.
4. I visited Scalloway castle whilst in Shetland and spotted the Latin phrase on the lintel.
5. I spent a wonderful afternoon trekking with alpacas. One of my personal mottos in life is ‘Carpe Diem’ - pure coincidence, but that was my alpaca’s name!
6. As a teenager, our neighbour-over-the-road converted an old ambulance into a camper van.
7. Molly Badham, co-founder of Twycross Zoo, used to enjoy weekend stays at the hotel, accompanied in her room by a baby chimp and a parrot - delivering room service was an experience!
8. I hadn’t planned Natalia’s final scene, it just happened. I wrote it without knowing which song - bang on cue, my brain delivered the perfect choice. I love my brain!
9. In January 1985, my family spent a weekend break on a small cruise ship heading for Denmark. The stormy weather was so rough and the crossing took so long we only had enough time to disembark for a Macdonald’s in Esbjerg before returning!
10. I had a medical scare whilst writing this book. After lots of research, for my own benefit, I couldn’t ignore what I’d learnt about a specific condition, so returned to the beginning and rewrote a specific story line. Thankfully, my episode was eventually diagnosed as a strange migraine.
On 1st August 2017, my dream came true; I held my debut paperback knowing that readers would be taking delivery of their very first Erin Green publication, 'A Christmas Wish'. I've told the story many times, but it took me many, many years to achieve my goal.
Five years on, I have nine published books to my name - with the 10th being published in late September. Somewhere in that 10th book, nestled amongst the latter quarter, is my one millionth published word. I'm praying its a decent word, of suitable length and meaning which adds to the story and not an 'and' or a 'but'. Given my habit of repeating certain words it might possibly be an annoying 'just' or a 'really' - now that, would be funny!
The truth is, I'll never know! So I'll focus on celebrating instead, whilst seeking further inspiration for my next ten books!