I’m so pleased to have another of my favourite authors in the Festive Spotlight today. Jessica Redland writes gorgeously uplifting and romantic books. She is here to tell us about her two seasonal books as well as her Christmas traditions and favourites. I have one of these books on my Kindle ready to read and review soon and you never know, I might just squeeze in the other too!
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I’m Jessica Redland and I live in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with my husband, our almost 15-year-old daughter and a 5.5-year-old sprocker spaniel called Ella who still thinks she’s a puppy. I’ve nearly always worked in HR, specialising in recruitment and training, but fulfilled my dream of becoming a full-time author in summer 2020 thanks to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, who have completely changed my life.
I’m a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn’t love me), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses. Many of these feature in my stories!
In a nutshell, what is your Christmas book about?
I’ve actually got 2 Christmas books out this year (both available now) although one is more wintery than Christmas.
Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is about Charlee Chambers, a master chocolatier, who has just moved to Whitsborough Bay with her boyfriend Ricky, with plans to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps by setting up her own chocolate shop. With the help of her best friend and the local community – but a disappointing lack of support from Ricky – she gets the shop ready for Christmas but will her first Christmas in Whitsborough Bay be a happy one? This is the tale of two very different Christmases for Charlee as she discovers what family really means.
My wintery release is Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and is a dual perspective story. Hollie and Jake both live in Whitsborough Bay although they’ve never met. They’ve both experienced significant tragedy which has made them guarded and wary of letting anyone in. Hollie has thrown herself into running The Starfish Café, set up by her mum, and Jake considers himself a lone wolf. That’s all about to change when Jake finds an abandoned shih tzu on the beach below The Starfish Café and asks Hollie if the dog is hers. A friendship forms through a dog-share arrangement but can they find the courage to break down the barriers and find love and happiness this Christmas?
How did you come up with the title for your book?
My titles tend to be a collaboration between me and my editor. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is a re-release and was originally independently published by me as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. We wanted to keep the chocolate shop part and add in Christmas so my editor proposed Christmas Wishes… which seemed perfect.
For Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, the café appears briefly in a couple of other books but was originally called The Stuffed Bun. At the time Boldwood took on my backlist, I’d started and parked a story set in the café and, knowing I would want to write it, I saw the opportunity to change the name to something nautical because of the coastal setting. I came up with a huge list of seaside-themed café names and my editor and I both agreed that we loved The Starfish Café the most. That part of the title was therefore already created and my editor suggested Snowflakes Over… as none of the titles we had so far had seasonal themes. Although the story is full and complete, I’m writing a sequel at the moment which continues the seasonal theme: Summer Nights at The Starfish Café. There may be a third book which would also have a seasonal title.
Do you still keep any Christmas traditions from your childhood?
When we were little, my dad was always the first to go downstairs to check that Santa Claus had been. Mum and my two brothers and I would hover at the top of the stairs in our dressing gowns and slippers and there was always that little thrill when Dad confirmed that we had been visited. Really it was just an excuse to put the lights on and make the room look festive but I found it magical. We’ve kept that tradition going with our daughter but, as it came from my family, it’s me who does the checking. Our daughter believed in Santa for a long time but, last year, the truth came out shortly before Christmas and she was devastated. She still wanted me do the ‘has he been?’ check, though, just in case.
How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year?
We always spend Christmas at home with just the three of us and this year will be no different. My husband has twin sisters and his parents rotate round the three houses for Christmas dinner but, for various reasons, they’ve had two years in a row at ours so we won’t have them joining us for dinner. They’ll come round late afternoon and spend the evening with us. It’s lovely to see them although I’ll admit I do find myself longing to put my PJs on and stretch out on the sofa with a box of chocolates and have to restrain myself until they’ve gone!
Between Christmas and New Year, we go to my parents’ house along with my two brothers and their families. This couldn’t happen last year so it’s going to be great to do it again this year … assuming all is well and there aren’t restrictions imposed.
What’s your favourite Christmas film?
I have two favourites. I absolutely love The Holiday and usually watch it a few times each Christmas (and often outside Christmas too). It is set at Christmas and New Year but it’s not super-Christmassy so my very Christmassy favourite is Miracle on 34th Street. It’s the 1994 version with Richard Attenborough – I’ve never seen the original – and I always put it on as my first Christmas film of the season while I’m putting the tree up. It’s so heart warming and makes me well up every time.
And a favourite Christmas song?
I love so many Christmas songs but you can’t beat ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl – absolute classic.
Do you have a favourite Christmas book?
I loved reading Christmas picture books to my daughter when she was little but I don’t think there was a stand-out favourite. Reading adult Christmas books (specifically romcoms or women’s fiction) is a fairly new thing for me. Until I started writing them, I was a bit oblivious to them being such a huge thing so I haven’t read huge numbers. I adored Christmas with Cary by Sharon Booth which came out last year. It’s the third in her ‘Home for Christmas’ series but the only connection is about what home means at Christmas so the books are all standalone with a connection of theme rather than characters or settings. It’s such a lovely story and beautifully written. I’d highly recommend it.
What Christmas book are you looking forward to reading this year?
I have loads loaded onto my Kindle already and several that I didn’t get to last year. I’m reading The Perfect Christmas Gift by Katie Ginger at the moment and loving it, and am particularly looking forward to A Winter’s Wish for the Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett which is next on my TBR pile.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
Redland’s Readers (Facebook group exclusive for fans of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow): https://www.facebook.com/groups/409519133635791
And finally, what’s the best Christmas present you ever received?
My favourite types of gift are surprise ones that are so thoughtful and completely me. My husband was particularly creative last year with some fabulous hedgehog-themed surprises which made me very happy.
I love teddy bears and, when I was in my early 20s, my parents gave me a surprise gift of a giant plush teddy bear. He was 4’ 6” and gorgeous. I had him for about 25 years but he found a new forever home a couple of years ago in a café with a children’s section. I’m sure he’ll have had lots of love and attention there. I miss him but a 4’ 6” teddy is a lot of bear to have around the house!
Thanks so much Jessica. I hope you have a wonderful time over Christmas.
You can find out about all of Jessica’s books and order them from the
Boldwood website here: Jessica Redland’s books