I love chatting to authors and getting to know more about their books and writing processes, so it's my pleasure today to welcome Catherine Ferguson back to the blog as part of the blog tour for her latest book Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since about the age of nine when I devoured Enid Blyton books and wrote mystery stories in my bedroom. I became a journalist but books were always my passion. I tried writing a romantic comedy years ago but the rejections shattered me so I gave up, and it was twenty years before I tried again. This time, thankfully, I succeeded! I signed my first book deal with Avon in 2014 – Humbugs & Heartstrings - and I’m now writing my seventh book. I love it and I can’t imagine ever doing anything else now.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin, what would it be?
When Poppy’s drain-cover enthusiast boyfriend Harrison proposes, he gives her the Twelve Days of Christmas to mull it over. Excited Poppy thinks she knows the answer already. But she hasn’t counted on her first big dinner party client, Jed Turner, being quite so disturbingly attractive . . .
Poppy and Erin want to set up their own dinner party catering company, what would your dream dinner party menu be - Christmas or otherwise?
Ooh, I’d have half a dozen oysters with lemon and tabasco for starters, then a delicious chicken and seafood paella, followed by the richest chocolate mousse ever.
If you were locked away in a log cabin, what Christmas movies would be on your watch list?
Every Christmas Eve, without fail, we all sit down and watch the Jim Carey version of ‘Scrooge’. It gets everyone in the mood and feeling extra excited for the Big Day. Then we always watch ‘The Snowman’ on Christmas Day. Apart from those two essentials, I love ‘The Holiday’, ‘While You Were Sleeping’ and ‘Christmas on 34th Street’.
Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin is your third Christmas themed book, what do you think are the ingredients needed to write the perfect Christmas book?
I like to write about family and friends coming together for the festive season, and all the joys and tensions that arise. And of course you can never have enough snow, sparkly decorations, skating rinks, Christmas trees and pantomimes! And, of course, a cosy log fire to snuggle up to. I feel excited already just writing about it.
How hard is it to write festive stories out of season, especially on the rare hot Summer days that we get?
I’m used to it now. I wrote ‘Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin’ during March, April and May, with edits up to July. But to be honest, for a Christmas fanatic like me, it’s not hard to dream up festive scenarios, even when it’s blazing sun outside!
Which do you find easier/ more enjoyable to write Christmas based books or your Spring/Summer books?
I’ve loved writing them all. But if pushed, I’d probably say I have a particular fondness for the Christmas books, mostly because I’m such a festive season nut. ‘Mistletoe & Mayhem’ was probably my personal favourite – until ‘Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin’ came along!
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Never give up! The thing with becoming a published author is that very few writers are lucky enough to attain instant success with their first book. Most of us have worked hard and struggled with rejection after rejection for literally years before we land a book deal. It took me five years to find an agent and another six months to land a book deal, and there were times I wondered if I’d ever achieve my dream. But I always knew I’d never give up, no matter how long it took, because I just really love creating romantic comedies. Now, I look upon those years as my writing apprenticeship...
What would you say is the hardest thing about writing?
I’d say disciplining myself to sit down and write regularly is the hardest thing. Once I’m in the flow, it’s fine and I can write for hours, caught up in my characters’ lives to the extent that I’ll even forget to stop for meals. But very often, it feels like a chore to sit down at the laptop, and I’ll think of a million and one other things to do rather than place bottom on chair to write!
If you get a block during the initial writing phase, how do you work your way through it?
I solve all problems with my writing by going out for a nice long walk, preferably along peaceful country lanes. If I’m stuck with a plot-line, not sure how a character would act, or needing some inspiration to write a key scene, I get out there and walk – and nine times out of ten, the knotty problem irons itself out in my head. It feels like magic.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
A pretty constant flow of tea and coffee plus my lap top.
What writers inspire you?
Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. I love all their books.
Where would be your idyllic location for a writing retreat?
I think it would have to be the Cotswolds. So many beautiful villages and so many lovely memories of childhood holidays, staying over in Stow-on-the-Wold on the way down to Cornwall. I think I’d write very happy, sunny books at a writing retreat there!
Do you treat yourself to something nice to celebrate the publication of your books?
Yes. A day off! They’re few and far between because a deadline is always looming, although I’m certainly not complaining. So it will be a lazy morning, followed by a lovely long lunch out, while trying not to keep checking Amazon to see what my reviews are like!
And finally, what can we expect from you next?
I’m so excited to be writing my next book, ‘Love Among the Treetops’. I live in Northumberland near a gorgeous tourist attraction called Alnwick Garden, which has the most incredible tree house café. So I’m taking inspiration from this and writing a book about a girl called Twilight, who has to save her family’s beautiful home by setting up a café in a tree-house. Twilight’s only problem is her old school enemy, Lucy (aka Lucifer) who bullied her relentlessly and will stop at nothing to ruin Twilight’s plans. It will be an emotional roller-coaster with a liberal helping of fun, too, and I’m so enjoying writing it, which has to be a good sign! ‘Love Among the Treetops’ will be released in March.
When Poppy’s boyfriend Harrison proposes the week before Christmas and gives her twelve days to decide, she doesn’t know what to do. With the festive season in full swing, it’s make or break time for the couple and the clock is ticking…
Meanwhile, Poppy’s best friend Erin is desperate for the pair of them to fulfil their dream of setting up a dinner party catering company – and when an opportunity arises at a luxury log fire cabin, the girls take their chance to impress. But they hadn’t bargained on the owner of the cabin being quite so attractive – or having quite such a sexy voice.
As the twelve days tick on, will Poppy realise that Harrison is the one for her? Or will it be love in the lodge when the new year comes?
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