I’ve invented a new blog series thanks to Helen Bridget last week called “Doing The Research” so I am especially excited to be hosting the lovely Kirsty Ferry to talk about her new CHRISTMAS book Christmas of New Beginnings…
Thank you Claire for having me back on your blog. I can’t believe it’s ‘that’ time of the year already, when the Christmas books are on the shelves and we’re starting to think of festivities. After last Christmas which was a washout and very disappointing for so many people, I really wanted to write a light hearted Christmas book, and build that into a series for Ruby Fiction.
The first book in the Padcock series is Christmas of New Beginnings, and is told from Cerys Davies’ point of view over five Christmases, as she relocates to a small village in the South Downs, and engages with the quirky residents. There is one resident she’s particularly enamoured with, and that’s Sam who owns the local pub. There’s a big fly in the ointment though, in the shape of Sam’s hideous girlfriend Belinda. The book follows Cerys and Sam over the next few Christmases and I hope you enjoy their story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My books usually take a lot more research than this one did. Many of my previous books have had a historical aspect, so I’ve researched, amongst many things, pirates, Jacobites, folklore, witches, highwaymen, Victorian and Edwardian Christmases and a lot of art movements such as the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Staithes Group of Artists. I’ve done research the traditional way by reading books and visiting museums or art galleries, and also have found a wealth of information on the internet, and love looking at estate agents websites for my characters’ houses, and virtually following their steps as they visit places in Google Maps. Sometimes, the internet sends me down what I fondly call the Google Rabbit Hole, and it spits up things I didn’t know – things that link in brilliantly to my story.
I tend to start a story with an idea. I don’t plan it, because that leaves me free to visit those rabbit holes and pull something together – for instance, It Started with a Pirate began with a Google search on “Pirates in Edinburgh”. I found an article about the skeleton of a pirate that had been found in a school yard and that led me off to track piratical journeys, shipwrecks, the Orkneys, Spain, trial records and the Jacobites. It all fitted together, and I actually had a reader message me and ask if the pirate character in the book was a real person, as he sounded as if he should be. That was great for me to hear, as I think there is nothing worse than a big info-dump of historical information in a book. It’s guaranteed to make me skip the pages and get back to the story so I really try not to do that, and to weave the research in when I write.
For Christmas of New Beginnings, it was much easier to write. The story flowed quite quickly as I didn’t have to fact check so much, but I did research the area of the South Downs (we have family down there, but I haven’t been for a few years), and also things like the prices of designer scarves and London markets which I needed to know a bit about to make sure that one of the characters enterprises worked out realistically. I also looked at fun things such as favourite Christmas films, which film the song ‘White Christmas’ appeared in (it’s Holiday Inn, by the way! I knew it was from a film, and the film wasn’t called White Christmas, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember at first!), and traditional Welsh folk songs. The village of Padcock is loosely based on Lacock Village, which I visited a while ago, so I also refreshed my memory on that one, which helped me draw a map in my head of Padcock – even though I added a canal there as well: just because I fancied it. That’s the beauty of research merging with fiction though. Sometimes you can blend the two together and make your readers suspend their disbelief for a little while – and hopefully make the places and the stories seem as ‘real’ as they can be.
Not all festive wishes come true right away – sometimes it takes five Christmases …
Folk singer Cerys Davies left Wales for the South Downs village of Padcock at Christmas, desperate for a new beginning. And she ends up having plenty of those: opening a new craft shop-tea room, helping set up the village’s first festive craft fair, and, of course, falling desperately in love with Lovely Sam, the owner of the local pub. It’s just too bad he’s firmly in the clutches of Awful Belinda …
Perhaps Cerys has to learn that some new beginnings take a while to … well, begin! But with a bit of patience, some mild espionage, a generous sprinkling of festive magic and a flock of pub-crashing sheep, could her fifth Christmas in Padcock lead to her best new beginning yet?
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Kirsty Ferry’s other books can be found here.