Of course! I’ve been writing in one form or another for as long as I can remember. I was a very early reader and devoured books like they were going out of fashion. Creating my own stories seemed like a natural progression from this and I always dreamed of being a writer, but being quite shy, I didn’t really have the confidence to think I could really do something like that.
I continued writing and although I did have an agent at one point, nothing happened and life went on. Over the years, I sold some articles and continued working on a few different novels. I’d won a ‘New Voices’ competition in America in 2006 – unfortunately the recession swallowed the publisher before the book came out – but it did boost my writing confidence. In 2015, I decided I was going to enter as many competitions as I could. Making the long list in the first one I entered gave me the confidence to keep trying. In the August, I had a phone call from Carina (now HQ/HarperCollins) to tell me I’d won their ‘Write Christmas’ competition with the book that would become ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.
I live on the south coast of England, and when I’m not writing, I love to read (obviously!), listen to podcasts, and sew. As a writer, I spend a lot of time sat down (and possibly snacking…) so I now make a point of walking or doing something up the gym a few times a week when I can too.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Christmas Holiday, what would it be?
Wedding reporter, Mia, has been offered the assignment of a lifetime accompanying her boss’ daughter and her fiancé on an adventure holiday in the run up to their spectacular Christmas wedding in London. Her dreams of writing travel seem to be finally coming true! But when the photographer for the trip turns out to be none other than hot shot adventure man, Hunter Scott, Mia has to fight to keep the opportunity. Looking as gorgeous as ever, it’s clear from the moment he walks in that he hasn’t forgiven her for handing back his engagement ring five years ago…
I love the idea of Mia travelling around the world to write a romantic travel piece, where did the inspiration come from and how did you research the locations you decided to include?
Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Sharon, and I’m so glad you love the sound of it! The idea itself came from two little sparks which then came together and grew. A few years ago, I was sat in a café in London and overheard parts of a conversation about someone’s ex going off to pursue an amazing career opportunity. More recently, I read an article about a writer being contracted to produce a journal about someone’s wedding day. I began to think about the possibilities of expanding something like that and, remembering back to the overheard conversation, the character of Hunter Scott wandered into my head.
As for the locations, I’ve been incredibly lucky to travel in the past, and also lived in America for a couple of years, so most of the travel side was based on personal experience with a little creative licence. For example, whilst I’ve been to Malaysia, the secluded luxury resort was a fictional creation - athough I rather wish I could go there! However, the ‘oar incident’ that takes place whilst they’re kayaking with manatees in Florida was definitely inspired by real life events 😉
Describe Mia and Hunter in 3 words.
Mia – Talented, Caring, Cautious
Hunter – Adventurous, Gifted, Protective
How hard is it to write festive stories out of season, especially on the rare hot Summer days that we get?
It can certainly be a tricky feeling festive when it’s thirty odd degrees outside and everyone’s wandering around in shorts, and the smell of summer barbecues is filling the air!
I think different things work for different people, but listening to festive music when you’re working, or doing chores in between (I can’t listen to music when I’m actually writing) can be good. Michael Bublé is a fave. Also, watching Christmas films, reading other festive books, all of those sort of things can help nudge you into seasonal thinking. Smells can really work for some people too, and I’ve seen people burning Christmas scented candles, and even baking mince pies!
So far all of your published books have been festive stories, if you could/were going to write a Summer holiday story where would you set it UK or abroad?
Ooh! Good question! I live near Brighton which is such a vibrant city so that’s definitely got possibilities. I’m also a lover of Dorset so it might be fun to create somewhere inspired by my favourite area down there. If abroad, I’d definitely be tempted to do something more with India. It’s such an incredible place and definitely holds a piece of my soul.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and never give up!
What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?
The rejections, for sure!
If you get a block during the initial writing phase, how do you work your way through it?
I’ve found exercise is a good way to get the brain, as well as the body, moving. So, either going for a walk or a swim or a cycle up the gym can help in getting things moving.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
I drink quite a lot. Wait, that sounds bad! Let me rephrase! I drink a lot of water so I make sure I’ve a supply of that close rather than keep getting up. Apart from that, so long as I’m warm, I don’t really need much else. Although, I would say having something yummy in store for lunch, or once you’ve hit your word count can be good self-bribery.
What writers inspire you?
I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen – I love her observation and wit. I enjoy the plays of Oscar Wilde for the same reason. Dickens has to be in there because I love London and history and it’s hard not to admire him just for his sheer productivity! Also, he came up with some corkers for names!
More modern favourites are Jennifer Crusie – I really miss her bringing out books! Janet Evanovich, Harlan Coben, Jane Costello, Sarah Morgan. I could go on and on! I think any book you really enjoy can inspire you, and have you itching to get back to your own creation.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
There’s a tiny little group of about six holiday chalets we’ve been to a couple of times up in Cumbria set on the edge of a private lake complete with your own rowboat. It’s incredibly peaceful, so maybe somewhere like that. Alternatively, if money was no object, a five star hotel in India would also do me just fine!
Do you treat yourself to something nice to celebrate the publication of your books?
Apart from the compulsory bottle of champagne? Ha ha! I didn’t last year but when Winter’s Fairytale came out, we went up to London for lunch at the OXO Tower restaurant and then I *may* have bought some Publication Day Boots at Covent Garden. But they were on sale so…
And finally, you're spoiling us with another festive book in November can you tell us a little bit about The Best Little Christmas Shop?
Indeed! This one is more on the theme of family and follows Lexi returning home after an enforced break from a high pressure career. Spending time with them, and becoming involved in the family business, not to mention gorgeous single dad, Cal Martin, has Lexi wondering if she really wants to go back to her old career. There’s also something else holding her back from committing to a new life…
You can connect with Maxine via:
Facebook: Maxine Morrey Author
As winter comes to London, journalist Mia Walker is desperately hoping for her big break as a travel writer, dreaming of exotic locations and sun-soaked beaches. When she’s invited to write a romantic travel piece that ends in a huge winter wedding in London, she jumps at the chance. The only trouble is, the photographer is renowned adventure-junkie Hunter Scott, who Mia last saw five years ago when she ended their engagement.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and Mia knows she’d be mad to say no – even if it does mean spending weeks travelling round the world with the one man she never wanted to see again! But as the wedding approaches, and the magic of Christmas begins to take hold, Mia can’t help looking out for mistletoe – and wishing she hadn’t cancelled her own engagement after all…
Amazon Link: Kindle
Home for the holidays…
Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.
But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…
Amazon Link: Kindle