Today I’m pleased to welcome Kate Blackadder to the blog. Kate’s debut novel Stella’s Christmas Wish was published by Black and White Publishing on 3 November 2016.
Kate answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Stella’s Christmas Wish.
Stella works long hours in the City of London and tries to forget about Ross, the man she left behind fifteen months ago. Then, six days before Christmas, comes a phone call to say that Alice, the grandmother who brought her up, is unconscious after an accident. Stella’s younger sister Maddie can’t help – she has suddenly gone abroad. So Stella goes home to Scotland where there are secrets to be uncovered (not least her own), relationships to be rekindled – and a wish to make.
2. Where did the inspiration come from for the book?
With a couple of writing friends I was brainstorming ideas for titles. One I came up with was Don’t Ask Alice. I subsequently found that title had been taken for a children’s book but it made me think – don’t ask Alice what? And why should she not be asked? Eventually Alice turned into Stella’s granny and as she’s unconscious after a fall she can’t tell Stella what she needs to know.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
A bit of both. When I write short stories I never plan them but when I got the chance to write my first serial for The People’s Friend I had to do a very detailed synopsis first. It was a steep learning curve but paid off; when I came to write it, it was (almost) like joining the dots. With Stella’s Christmas Wish I had a rough plan but I had to write my way in and get to know the characters better before I really knew how it would pan out. Then I stopped and did a timeline – as it’s set in the six days leading up to Christmas I had to keep a grip on what happened when, especially as it’s told from two different viewpoints. I typed each day in a different colour so it was easy to refer back.
4. What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
The writing process for this, my first full-length novel, was like trying to do a jigsaw in the dark. It was a thrill when the pieces began to slot into place and I could start to see the whole picture.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I work part-time, two days a week, for a museum publisher. I go to a writing class and Edinburgh Writers’ Club, meet writing friends for coffee or go to writing/book-related events. I read five or six books a month. … But when I can tear myself away from words I like to bake, listen to the radio, and go to the cinema. Oh, and I’m fascinated by China which I visited in 2011. I’ve done a Future Learn Course on the European Discovery of China and am a member of the Scotland-China Association.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Not sure about the rest of my life … but Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym is a book I’ve reread numerous times and never tire of. The thing about frequent rereading is that you have the pleasure of anticipating your favourite passages.
7. What was it like writing a Christmas book, when it’s not Christmas in real life? How do you invoke the Christmas spirit and do you have any Christmas traditions?
I did the most work on the book this spring so it was a little strange – but for various reasons Stella is not in the mood for any Christmas festivities until the Day is almost upon her so I didn’t have to get really into it until quite late on. I did play some Christmas carols in the background though!
I don’t like putting a Christmas tree up very early – around the 18th is fine. The smell of pine conjures up the season, as do cinnamon-scented candles. My family loves to watch It’s a Wonderful Life every year, and go to our local church for the Watch Night Service.
Stella’s Christmas Wish, (link: myBook.to/Stella ) set in Edinburgh and the Borders, is published by Black and White Publishing at 99p.
About Kate Blackadder
I’ve had around fifty short stories published and three magazine serials. Stella’s Christmas Wish, is my first full-length novel.
About the book:
One phone call can change everything…
Six days before Christmas, Stella could never have anticipated the impact on her life when the phone rings in her London office.
The phone call is from a friend of the family informing Stella that her grandmother has been hurt in a fall at her home in the Scottish borders and is in hospital. Torn between her responsibilities at work and the need to be with her grandmother she decides she must return to Scotland immediately.
However, on her return to where she grew up, it becomes apparent that her grandmother’s health is not her only concern. Relationships which have lain dormant for years are re-kindled and fresh opportunities present themselves – if she will only dare to take them…