Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Quick check-in with everybody: how are we all feeling? It's not a rhetorical question; send me a note or leave a comment and let me know.
Do you have a certain quirk in your writing process?
I usually have Twinkle, my pet snake (Suriname red-tailed boa constrictor, if anyone’s interested!), round my neck. He likes to be out of his vivarium, having a cuddle, and he’ll stay quiet round my neck for hours. It’s good to have a bit of company who just sits there and doesn’t chatter when I’m trying to write. In terms of productivity, I like to write in short sprints, for an hour at most, where I try to get down as many words as I can in the time. It’s a good strategy for when I’m on a tight deadline.
[WB: I wonder how our cat would do with a new serpentine addition to the family.]
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
I love them all, but I think my favorite has to be Hawthorne, from Hawthorne’s Wife. He’s a bit of a tortured soul and has a strong, silent exterior, which hides a passionate heart. He has several character flaws to overcome, but I love a flawed hero! I’m also pretty partial to a hero in a future novel who’s a cross between Nick from The Handmaid’s Tale, and James Bond.
Outside of your own genre, what’s your favorite genre?
I love crime, particularly police procedurals, where the clues are all there before you, but you need to piece them together. Serial killers and grisly murders with multiple suspects are a particular favorite. But I don’t get to read that many crime novels, because I love reading romance so much!
What are your favorite winter traditions?
Ask my family, and they’ll say "burning the sausages for Christmas dinner," though last year, I broke tradition, and cooked them properly! We have an Aga and several fireplaces in the house, so switching the Aga on, and lighting log fires, is how we mark the beginning of Winter. I live in a village where most houses date back to the 16th Century, and when I’m out for evening walks round the village, the smell of everyone’s log fires is lovely.
[WB: I miss that smell so much; I lived in a cathedral close for a while, so I know what you mean. Lovely! And hurrah for not botching the sausages!]
How do you feel about Dickens, really? (It’s okay to dislike him.)
Ok, confession time! I studied Great Expectations at school. I loved the early chapters, especially Pip’s encounters with Magwitch, but, I found most of it a real chore! But I think the problem was being told by a teacher to read and analyze the story. I have since read a few of Dickens’ books—my late mother-in-law gave us her full set—and I loved Martin Chuzzlewit. We’re fortunate to have such brilliant film and TV adaptations to watch. I adored the adaptation of Bleak House with Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock, and my claim to fame is that I once lived next door to the actor Paul Scofield who starred in the BBC’s adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit in the 1990’s.
[WB: I really like Martin Chuzzlewit, too. I think he thought it was his best work? Remember reading that, somewhere.]
What inspired you to write your O Night Divine story?
I love gothic stories with tortured souls, apparitions, and ghosts, so, given the link to A Christmas Carol, it was an easy choice to introduce a Scrooge-like character, who’s haunted by his past. But I also wanted to show the characters from my London Libertines series enjoying their happy-ever-afters. My heroes are usually bad boys, so I really wanted to show their well-behaved sides, now they’ve been reformed by the love of a good woman!
If you could say something kind to reassure people this season, what would it be?
Christmas is the season of goodwill and kindness to all—but don’t forget to be kind to yourself! You’re just as important as everyone around you.
If you absolutely had to meet the ghost of Christmas Past, Future, or Present, which would you choose?
Christmas Past. There’s always something to learn from reflecting on past experiences. I wouldn’t want my actions to be influenced by someone’s prediction of the future.
If your contribution is a lead-in to (or an extension of) another series or novel, please describe the series or book.
My contribution features all the main characters from the London Libertines series, and revisiting them was such a pleasure! Alice and Ross, the main characters from Roderick’s Widow are enjoying Christmas with their friends Henry and Jeanette from Henry’s Bride, and Frederica and Hawthorne, from Hawthorne’s Wife. The heroes all have flaws they must overcome, particularly Henry who’s a bit of a bad boy and a real love-him-or-hate-him hero! The characters will be making cameo appearances in my new series, Headstrong Harts, of which the first novel is What the Hart Wants.
Thank you for chatting, Emily! I'm ready to read approximately every one of your books, now.