Welcome to our third Christmas edition blog of ‘Three things I learned while writing…’ and to our third author(s) featured this month – Nora James, Susanne Bellamy, Shirley Wine and Renee Dahlia. All four authors have joined us today to tell us about three things they learned while writing the Christmas anthology ‘Rainbow Cove Christmas’.
His Christmas Feast, by Nora James
1. I still adore Christmas.
Not all of mine have been wonderful, and I know many people find it a challenging time of year. That’s why I decided to explore the issue through my heroine, Emily Brighton, who has a past that makes Christmas an ordeal for her. Hunky hero Christophe Duval, on the other hand, can’t get enough of the festive season and in that respect he is more like me. I can spend hours gazing at twinkling lights, sparkly baubles and wrapped gifts! Am I still twelve? On 25 December, yes.
2. Writing a series with other authors requires discipline but it’s fun.
While you have to ensure everyone’s on the same page with the characters and settings, you get a glimpse of the workings of the mind of other authors and as a result you grow. And make new friends.
3. I have no control over my characters.
When I first plotted the story I had imagined Christophe as average-looking and Emily as a withdrawn woman. And then the creative process took over and they are nothing like that!
His Christmas Kisses, by Susanne Bellamy
1. Real life offers lots of inspiration for stories.
My hero and heroine’s meeting came directly out of my personal experience of having car thieves crash a stolen vehicle into my car at the shopping centre. While talking to the news cameraman, I told him this experience was going into my next book.
2. There is no such thing as too much research when it comes to baking cakes.
I found so many tips and tricks to cake decorating, and simple but effective ideas to make the ordinary look special. Many very enjoyable hours passed as I discovered what Flick, the patissiere (my baking heroine) was making. Check out my Pinterest board! https://www.pinterest.com.au/…/her-christmas-kisses_a…/
3. Researching recipes makes me hungry. And distracted!
I procrasti-baked a lot while writing this story, but my favourite recipe is still the deliciously moist carrot cake I’ve been making for my family since forever, closely followed by a superb beetroot cake. I rationalise that any cake made with vegetables simply has to be good for you.
Food often features in my stories. The sharing of food, including the act of making a meal for others, is a bonding experience. When a workaholic man makes time in his day to cook a meal for you, the relationship is a good one!
Her Christmas Homecoming, by Shirley Wine
1. Christmas can be an incredibly sad or lonely time for some people for many and varied reasons.
This is something the Chef, Christophe, knows, and this is why he decides to throw an orphans’ Christmas party.
2. Life often provides the inspiration.
For this book I recalled the Christmas when our lives were tragically changed forever with the death of our twin sons. There is always one friend who silently, without fuss, is there when needed most, a friend who sees what needs to be done and quietly sets about doing it, without expecting anything in return. In writing this book, I acknowledge the friend who stepped up for me and my husband.
For my heroine, Marta, it’s her childhood friend, Joe who steps up to help. It takes great courage to pick up the threads of life and create new memories after life deals you a breath-stealing blow.
3. I needed to do in depth research about fire protection of property in the Australian landscape.
This is a hugely topical issue right now – I spent hours researching on line and asking Aussie friends. And I needed to research commercial production of vegetables in a very different climate to ours in New Zealand.
His Christmas Pearl, by Renee Dahlia
Small towns in Australia are filled with people who have arrived from across the seas to take a chance on a new life. For Kiet, his father migrated from Thailand and fell in love with an oyster farming woman. Their love story underpins Kiet’s motivation to keep the farm in business.
1. A friend taught me something new about Thai culture.
My friend Noch taught me about Thailand ghost beliefs and helped me research the little touches that inform the way Kiet thinks about his parents.
2. An unexpexted meeting helped with my research.
By chance I discovered that my son’s teacher actually grew up on an oyster farm. Alison was a huge help in pointing me in the right direction for oyster farm research. –
3. Working with other authors on an anthology was a lot of fun!
Working with other authors on a concept like the Rainbow Cove Christmas, where all four books intertwine around the same Christmas party was such fun.