Interview with author Kitty Wilson
We are delighted to welcome Kitty Wilson, author of popular The Cornish Village School series, back to the Lost in Books blog. This time, she tells us all about her festive new release, Every Day in December, how it came to be and what inspired the book, and her very own tips for romance writers. As Christmas is creeping closer, what else could you possibly choose to read?
Can you tell us a little about your latest book, Every Day in December?
Hello! Absolutely. Every Day In December is a very Christmassy romantic comedy with each chapter being one day in the month of December. It is the story of Belle and Rory, who knew each other a little when they were Uni but have lost touch over the years. As they meet again at the start of December, they realise that they may have misjudged each other all those years ago. The two begin to spend a lot of time together as Belle tries to convince Rory that Christmas is a really special time of year. With each chapter representing one day of the month of December I have been able to cram the festiveness in.
Your previous book series, The Cornish Village School, has enjoyed fantastic success since its release. How did it feel to write something new that was separate from The Cornish Village School series?
All my published novels until this point were part of a series so I had a real itch to write a stand-alone but I hadn't realised how much more tricky it would be. With my Cornish Village School books the world was created in the first book, Breaking The Rules, so with each subsequent novel I really knew my characters and the setting and could race through with the new story. Whereas with Every Day In December, I truly was starting with a blank page, building brand new characters and a whole new world.
I always find releasing a new book slightly terrifying and whilst writing this one was so much fun and I giggled so much at the situations I threw Belle into, having it published was nerve-wracking. With my series, if you enjoyed the first book then there was a strong chance you would enjoy the following ones but I felt Every Day In December marked a bit of a change with its city setting. Now I can see that it has all the things in it that people liked about my Penmenna books; it's romantic, comic in parts and provides a cosy escape. But at the start, I was really worried about alienating readers. Thankfully, many have written to me to let me know Every Day In December is their favourite yet so I really need to stop fretting about these things.
What was the inspiration behind Every Day in December, and why did you decide to set it in Bristol?
It was the culmination of three separate things. I had been thinking of Belle for some time and very much wanted to write her story but didn't think she was the right fit for Penmenna School so she needed, and deserved, a book of her own. I also love Christmas and had been playing about with the challenge of writing a book where each chapter was one day of a month, I realised I could combine all of these and write a December book with Belle as the heroine. Then finally, I was considering how the judgements we make of people really are often ill-informed and that everyone always has a wider story to share. So I was keen to write a romance between two people who had met previously but been fairly dismissive of each other, but upon meeting later in life realise there is far more to the other person than they had previously assumed.
I like to write stories set where I live. It means that every time I leave the house I can see little bits of inspiration, even if it's something as simple as the local Spar shop. I had moved to Bristol from Cornwall once I was writing the Cornish Village School so planned when that was finished to set my next book here in Bristol. I had such a strong sense of community running through my previous books I wanted to see if I could recreate that in an urban setting. And hopefully, with Every Day In December, I have.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to try their hand at writing romance novels?
I say if you want to give it a shot then do it. Sit down and write. We can always find a spare half an hour here or there if we're committed enough, so carve out that time and give it a go.
I would add though that the old adage 'don't give up the day job' is pretty important. It can take years to get a completed novel to market and unless you are a break-out bestseller - very rare - it takes a bit of a back catalogue to build up to a liveable income. But that said if it makes you happy, then don't wait. Start as soon as you can. And if you're writing romance specifically, then joining the Romantic Novelist's Association is an excellent first step on your way. They offer a New Writer's Scheme where if you are unpublished, they critique your work and help you on the road to publication.
I would also say read a lot, learn the market and don't be afraid to commit words to paper, it's the only way to make progress and you can always scrap any rubbish ones later. Good luck!
What are your favourite books to enjoy during the festive period?
I read so many books but lots are those written by friends or research-based ones. I don't always get time for reading just for pleasure but come Christmas I make sure of it. I always save a couple of books from the year that I dedicate a couple of days for, reading in front of the fire with music on. It's my little present to myself. It does mean though, that they don't always have a Christmassy theme. This year, I have saved Natalie Haynes' A Thousand Ships because I adore the story of Troy, Hilary Mantel's The Mirror And The Light and Evie Dunmore's Portrait of a Scotsman. Evie writes wonderfully humorous and whip-smart Victorian romance with a feminist twist and I love her books so much. I have been waiting all year to lose myself in this one.
Where’s the most perfect reading (or writing) spot, according to you?
My practically perfect writing spot is where I write now, on my sofa so I can get all super comfy under a heated blanket, balance the laptop on my lap and off I go. It's a joy having a thirty-second commute with all my little comforts around me. The downside is I do get a little distracted. In my head though, one day I will have a writing room, with said sofa and book-lined walls that has beautiful french doors that open onto a garden, which I can spy through gauzy white curtains. That will be my most perfect writing space.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Yes, I have another book due out next summer so I am just finishing it now and then I'll send it to my editor. It is another Bristol-based romantic comedy and features two people who absolutely cannot be anything other than single. But then they haven't met each other yet. I'm very fond of Lily and Jay and am excited about getting their story out to the world.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Without a doubt, it is when readers reach out to me to talk about my books and, many times, to tell me how reading them has helped get them through a tricky time. This means the absolute world to me. Certainly, when times in my life have been difficult I have used romantic fiction as a wonderful way to escape for a couple of hours. Knowing that I am now providing this escape for others is the most rewarding thing you can imagine.
Kitty Wilson lives in Bristol and loves the city. She happily spends most of the time welded to her keyboard dreaming up deeply romantic stories that make her giggle as she types. She has a penchant for very loud music, owns more books than one human could possibly read and has an unhealthy obsession with paint charts.
Every Day In December was released in audio and e-book in August and in paperback in September. It is published by One More Chapter who are an imprint of Harper Collins so it is distributed world-wide, although only in the English language at the moment.
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