Eve Glace – co-owner of the theme park Winterworld – is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them …
Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable.
Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?
Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?
Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author of 13 published novels, 2 short story books and 2 novellas, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.
She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.
She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts – but hates marzipan. She is very short.
Milly’s website is http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk. She is on Twitter @millyjohnson and has a Facebook page (just google Book Page of Milly Johnson). She also has a monthly newsletter http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk/newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.
- How do your characters begin in your writing process? Do you have an incline for a name or you know how you want them to look?
It’s a very odd process, I have a cloudy image of the characters, often not their faces in detail but enough to be able to say ‘He has the look of Hugh Jackman/Hugh Grant/Russell Grant’. I have to find the leading men attractive because I’ll write them better if I’m half in love with them myself. I don’t plan so I start writing and then when I need another character, it’s as if they walk in from the side half-formed and I just ‘pat them into the shape I need them to be’. Sometimes they grow into their name, sometimes the character comes first and then I slip a name on them like a coat, no hard and fast rule.
- How do you choose your names?
The names are incredibly important to me. I have been put off some names in my life (you’re not likely to find a leading man with the same name as my ex-husband or ex-psychotic boss!) but I’ve also fallen in love with some names that I’ve encountered along the way – usually from seeing them on University Challenge, they have some fabulous names on there. The name has to be the right fit for the character, a reflection of who they are wherever possible. And you have to be careful not to have names in the book which are similar to other names you use in the same story. In one of my books I had a May, Clare and Lara which I thought weren’t similar at all, then I noticed a comment on a review that there were too many ‘a’s going on there. I hadn’t spotted that. What is also very odd is that once a character has a name and you have to change it for any reason, it’s very difficult because that name has taken root in your head.
- Which character is your favourite to write?
Oh that’s a hard question because I love to write about a female character working through some hardship and finding her happy ending but then again I do like a naughty old lady who gets her words muddled up. You fall in love with your characters and they’re all a joy – but if I categorically had to pick one I’d say the manipulative baddie. I have a great love of psychology and love to get into a nasty head, see what makes them tick and how they operate and manoeuvre.
- Which character is the hardest to write?
The female protagonist, because she is nearly always the one the story hangs on so her importance is enormous. If you’ll take the story of Cinderella as an example of what to avoid… she’s a bit boring isn’t she? All the fun is with the Ugly Sisters. Your female lead should be someone a reader wants to get behind and support and cheer on so you have to get her right. She should be interesting, a little bit vulnerable but with plenty of room for improvement. She has to grow in the story. We all learn from our mistakes and my leading lady has usually made quite a few.
- Are any of your characters based on a real-life person?
Quite a few have started off that way, but then by the end of the book they become their own people and are nothing like how they started out. One of my favourites was an old lady called Edith Gardener in Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café. She was based on an old lady – Edith I met once, who was 90 and had lived in the same bungalow all her life. She had a great passion for gardening and had this huge plot at the back of her house which she’d landscaped, built in tiny fish pools, planted all the trees and hedges and flowers herself over the years – it was remarkable. She drifted into my life just to give me the idea for that character, I’m convinced. When the book was published, I gave her a copy and she was thrilled, but sadly died soon afterwards and probably her garden will never quite be up to her exacting standards any more.
- Lastly, if you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would you pick and why?
Adam McLean in The Birds and the Bees. He was funny, irreverent and sexy as hell. I’d love to meet him and see in the flesh what ginger-fantasticness I’d created.
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