Laughing All the Way on the Jingle Bells Express is a great title isn’t it? I’ll bet you are now singing Jingle Bells in your head! Here is author Berni Stevens stepping into the Festive Spotlight
to tell us all about the book and her Christmas traditions.
Thanks for taking part in my Festive Spotlight Berni. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Hello, yes of course … by day, I’m a book cover designer and have been for more than twenty years. I think I’m very lucky to do something I enjoy so much for work. I’m also a licensed Zumba Instructor and I have a lot of fun teaching my class every week.
Writing stories has always been something I loved to do in my ‘spare time’ and to see my books published is always really exciting.
My husband and I are addicted to the deserts and canyons of America’s South-West, and we love to get out there whenever we can. (Which hasn’t been since 2019, although we have everything crossed for 2022). We’re also huge rock music fans (he’s an ex drummer) and we go to as many concerts as possible!
I do have a ‘dark side’ however, and a passion for vampire books, plays, TV and movies – in fact anything with vampires in. I’ve been a member of the Dracula Society since 1996, and I’m now on the Committee and design their quarterly magazine. Before you all start thinking I run around in the dark wearing a cloak and baring fangs, I have to tell you the Dracula Society is a literary society. And my favourite book ever is, of course … Dracula.
In a nutshell, what is your Christmas book about?
It’s kind of a ‘wake up call’ in a (I hope) amusing way. A reminder that the person you may have been searching for – that one special person, could be someone you already know, or someone sitting on the train or bus right next to you, if only you hadn’t been staring at your phone for the entire journey.
If you suddenly received an invitation to go on a ‘Festive train journey’ before Christmas – what would you do? Would you go?
The people in the book do go, and this is the story of their journey.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I wanted to get ‘Jingle Bells’ into the title somehow, but there’s already a well-known movie called Jingle All the Way, so that was out of the question. Instead, I thought of ‘Laughing all the Way’ because the book is essentially a ‘feel good’ read and I hope people really will laugh all the way through it. I added ‘on the Jingle Bells Express’ to the title, because it’s the name of the train. Making my title very long … and a total nightmare to fit on the cover. Serves me right!
Do you still keep any Christmas traditions from your childhood?
We collect tree decorations from places we travel to both in the UK and abroad, and I have also kept some decorations which belonged to my parents, so we now have a pretty eclectic mix. (There are quite a few Day of the Dead decorations on our tree too! And they’re very sparkly.)
I still do Christmas stockings with little presents, we all have a ‘table present’ and pull crackers over Christmas lunch, but we don’t open other presents until after we’ve eaten. I absolutely adore Christmas Eve too, it still feels magical to me somehow. It could be because I finally came out of hospital with my tiny premature son, one Christmas Eve after a very difficult pregnancy, and an elective Caesarean section. Everywhere outside the hospital was quiet and still, but it just felt magical … Sam slept through everything looking for all the world like a tiny cherub. Several neighbours popped in with gifts for him, and we’ve invited the neighbours round for mulled wine every Christmas Eve since.
How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year?
I very much hope we’ll all have a ‘normal’ Christmas this year and not one cancelled at the very last minute, like last year. So hopefully we’ll have the neighbours round, our family together, and lots of Christmas foodie treats, movies, and mulled wine.
What’s your favourite Christmas film?
I watch every Christmas film I can find, every year. I don’t start watching them until November, but my favourite is any version of A Christmas Carol that’s being shown – although I do have a bit of a passion for The Muppets’ version!
And a favourite Christmas song?
Probably, A Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Do you have a favourite Christmas book?
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I have a 1920s edition handed down by a great aunt, and I treasure it.
What Christmas book are you looking forward to reading this year?
I’m hoping to read all of my fellow Choc Lit authors’ Christmas books, which will keep me quiet for some time! (Until Easter probably).
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
And finally, what’s the best Christmas present you ever received?
Thanks so much Berni. That Pogues and Kirsty MacColl song is proving very popular!
Laughing All the Way on the Jingle Bells Express is available now.
You’ll find buying options on the ChocLit website here.