Can you believe we are almost at the end of my #AuthorInTheFestiveSpotlight feature for this year? No neither can I but don’t fret, because I still have two wonderful authors to feature. The penultimate author for this year is Lottie Cardew, whose new book is One Last Dream for December. I reviewed this just a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it.
I’m so pleased to have you as a guest on the blog again Lottie. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Thank you for having me here on your blog again. It’s lovely to be back and I’m so grateful to be asked. As Lottie Cardew I write heartstring-tugging, OwnVoices romantic comedies set around a picturesque Shropshire village called Pebblestow. I’m a strong advocate for diversity in fiction, particularly when it comes to disability and neurodivergency. And I also can’t help adding little flourishes of magic – honestly I’ve tried writing books without those bits and they fall flat! I’m one twelfth/fifteenth (I admit I’ve lost count this year) of the Novelistas, a group of writers from North Wales and the North West of England; and live in Flintshire with my husband, not-so-young family, and a ball of fluff masquerading as a Pomeranian.
In a nutshell, what is your Christmas book about?
Not quite a nutshell, but anyway, it’s about a woman in her early thirties called Esme, who’s led a nomadic life for the last ten years, never feeling she fits anywhere and never feeling she’s earned the right to. She sees the world through a slightly different lens, and she’s amassed enough negative experiences for the future to seem lonely and bleak. But when she moves in above the old toy shop in Market Square, Pebblestow, just before Christmas, there are plenty of villagers (and even the old shop itself) who seem to have other ideas! And of course, there’s also romance – as a smouldering single-dad to an autistic four-year-old girl. In spite of everything, Esme, who’s also neurodivergent – like me – has a hard time resisting this gorgeous little family, even if they do come with formidable in-laws. There’s also a thread of mystery involving the elusive Mr Percival, the owner of the toy shop.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I was thinking about dreams and how Esme has given up on them, in the sense that she doesn’t feel she deserves a home and family of her own any more or a fulfilling job she can really get her teeth into. I enjoy playing around with different combinations of words, and I didn’t want ‘Christmas’ in the title again, so I decided ‘December’ would be a good alternative. ONE LAST DREAM FOR DECEMBER simply developed from there. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I thought, ‘That’s it!’ But I know I’d only just started writing the book, and I love when that happens. It spurs me on to get to the end of a first draft.
How do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year?
On Christmas Day itself, like last year, I aim to be snuggled at home with the family. Lots of blankets and chocolate and games and laughter, hopefully! But I love the whole season leading up to it, and I try to minimise the stress and really enjoy Advent now that the kids are older and I’m not frantically and secretly trying to portion out presents on behalf of grandparents and extended family. I do miss the wide-eyed, innocent wonder that accompanied Christmas when my children were little, but that’s about it. It used to be a hectic whirlwind when they were in school, and it’s a relief to take a step back from that. Anyway, I can write the wide-eyed innocence into my books. It’s not too difficult to relive it whenever I’m in the mood. That’s the beauty of being a writer – and a reader – I think. The chance to slip into another, kinder, gentler world if the need takes hold.
You have £5 to buy a Secret Santa gift – what would you buy?
It would have to be a book, however unoriginal that sounds. So I would try to source a £5 copy of Diana Wynne Jones’s HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. It’s one of my favourite books for its sheer charm and cleverness and the ingenious twist half-way through. It can be enjoyed by young and old alike, but serves a double purpose if you’re a writer. It’s a brilliant example of how to write a romance without actually writing a romance in a conventional sense. And for anyone out there who doesn’t understand what I’m on about, I urge you to read it and find out for yourself.
What’s your essential Christmas food or drink?
This was a tricky one, so I thought to myself, what do I hunt down in the shops and get twitchy about if I can’t find any I like? And the answer was… stuffing. I love the kind that comes in a slab, packed with Christmassy berries, and sweet and savoury deliciousness; the odd dash of alcohol sometimes. I can’t always find it, and it sounds so indulgent, even though I’ve often only bought it from Aldi. But you know, writing this post, I’ve decided I’m going to hunt down a recipe, and if necessary, I’ll make it myself from scratch. I’m usually only in charge of buying the festive fare, not cooking it. Haha, nope. Multitasking in the kitchen is not my forte, so roast dinners are a no-no unless someone else is in charge. I’m a ‘one-pot recipe’ sort of cook, so a slab of stuffing should be in my skill set – right?
What Christmas book are you looking forward to reading this year?
As always, I’ve got a few downloaded on my Kindle, and others ready and waiting on Audible. I’m not sure which one I’m most keen to start first – I want to read them equally! I know I won’t have the chance to finish them all before Christmas, though; I’m not a fast reader. But as I’m happy indulging in festive novels at any time of year, it’s not a problem.
So, to answer this question, I picked two non-fiction books instead, which currently have pride of place on my coffee table. MERRY MIDWINTER by Gillian Monks and THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS by Jane Struthers. In truth, I’ve been dipping in and out of them all year, to keep me in the mood as I worked on my Christmas story. In essence, they’re both about how festive traditions evolved, and how to reconnect with the magic of the season beyond all the modern, commercial trappings that try to dazzle and distract us every year. Also, the covers are exquisite! There’s nothing quite like a hardback with a gorgeous cover, and even more so if Christmas is involved.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m all over the place – even Mastodon, as of a few weeks ago:
And finally, what’s your favourite Christmas tree decoration?
Like the best gift ever, which I wrote about in my spotlight post last year, in my opinion the best decorations have stories attached. Not long stories, in this case, but short and simple. I couldn’t choose between two decorations, though, sorry! And strictly speaking, one of them isn’t even for the tree, but it’s dear to me and I’m very attached to it.
The snowman (the hat is blue, though that doesn’t show so well in the picture) was adopted by my daughter at a school fayre when she was little. Somewhere along the way, it lost an eye on the journey home, but that only made it more special to us. Children in one of the classes at her primary school had all made a snowman each out of old socks and various odds and ends, and this is the one my daughter chose. There’s something a little magical about it, I think. As if it might come alive at night and dance around the mantelpiece.
As for the blue rectangle made of felt, my younger son made it at home one Christmas when he went through a random, arty, creative phase, and I had to feed his addiction by buying various crafty bits and cutting up old cards. Miraculously, the glue has held strong, and it’s lasted years. Hopefully, it will last a few more yet; it’s so sweet and jolly. My son is away at uni at the moment, and I haven’t seen him in ages, so I get a little melancholy and nostalgic about it all. But that’s often how Christmas is for adults. An emotional patchwork of Christmases past, and memories of people who are dear to us and those who once were. But I don’t want to be sad. So I’ll sign off by saying, I hope you have a good one, Joanne – and to everyone reading this, I wish you the best and most beautiful blessings of the season.
Thank you so much Lottie. I love the decorations. One of my favourite decorations is a foil angel who had lost her head by the time she came home from the shop but still had her foil halo! I hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family and that you find or make just the stuffing you want!
One Last Dream for December is available now in ebook and paperback. You’ve still got a few days to sneak in a festive read so why not treat yourself to a copy? You can order here: One Last Dream for December