I am DELIGHTED to be part of the blog tour for the fantastic The Twelve Dates Of Christmas! The dates of the stops can be found below, and there are a brilliant variety of posts and wonderful blogs which have featured on the tour, so please make sure that you check out the other stops too Below you can find an exciting Q&A with Lisa and an extract too!
Lisa has been so kind to answer a few questions about The Twelve Dates Of Christmas, her favourite scenes and where she gets her inspiration from! Thank you Lisa!
1. Claudia is such a fun and relatable heroine. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind her?
Well THANKS, she likes you too! I wanted to make her real – someone who isn’t blameless, who doesn’t come up with the perfect comebacks, who wants to be strong but sometimes tears get the better of her and who can’t make decisions. But also I wanted her to be likable – because I think we all have faults, but essentially are, hopefully, likeable! So she’s a little bit of me, a little bit of who I’d like to be, a little bit of everyone I know.
2. There is a great cast of supporting characters in The Twelve Dates of Christmas. What process did you go through to develop all their personalities?
Nick completely developed his own personality; from his first appearance he just strode in, gave a big grin, and chattered away with my other characters. Seth had to be toned down a few times and Penny needed to open up about her own hopes and dreams. All the others were a pretty easy-going bunch, so as long as I gave them plenty of space to talk their heads off they were happy their personalities were shining through.
3. Which scene from across all the parts of The Twelve Dates of Christmas was the most fun to write?
My favourite scene to write was Winter Wonderland (Date 4). It’s such a horrible, cringey scene in many ways, which meant I could just chuck in every worst thing I could think of! It was very fun to write. I almost think we need a spin-off book, The Twelve Dates of Eddie.
4. And which one was the most challenging?
The opening, I really struggled with this as I was anxious that it had to be as catchy as possible. But also Date 3… I was very conscious of readers potentially going off Claudia, thinking it was unrealistic that she would be thinking about dating just days after getting out of a long term relationship. It took lots of reworking to try and get her feelings, emotion and confusion across.
5. How much research did you have to do i.e. how many dates did you make your husband take you on?
Luckily I used to live in London, so my husband, or my friends, had been dragged on many of these dates with me previously. But we have some lovely pubs in my Devon seaside town, so if I needed to get away from the laptop and the summer sun, and imagine it was mid-winter and we were sharing some mulled wine, off we’d go on an impromptu date. There’s also a winter wedding in the book, so I drew on my own wedding experience for that one.
6. When do you usually start your Christmas planning?
I’ll generally start thinking about pressies from early November, and then go at it with a bang from December 1st – that’s when Home Alone is stuffed in the DVD player, the mince pies only last a day, decorations are flung around the house and I no longer say, ‘Hello,’ only, ‘Merry Christmas’. That said, this year I’ve been thinking about Christmas since June, when I started writing Twelve Dates, and two years ago I was thinking about Christmas since February because I was planning my own Christmassy December wedding. IT NEVER STOPS.
7. What is the last novel you read that really took you by surprise?
I’m not sure if this counts as I’m only half way through, but I just started Poppy Dolan’s There’s More to Life than Cupcakes and it’s FAB. The reason it took me by surprise is that the first chapter left me thinking, bloody hell – Poppy is inside my head! Her lead character, Ellie, is going through some feelings about having babies that aren’t commonly discussed in books, so it made me love it from the outset.
8. Sum up The Twelve Dates of Christmas in just five words.
Warming like festive gingerbread lattés!
Extract from The Twelve Dates Of Christmas
The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Claudia’s underwear was evil and it was going to ruin everything. She fanned herself, one eye on the clock. She would not cry over a stupid cheap corset she’d got off the internet, even if it was completely locked to her body, upside down, and she had to leave in three minutes’ time for her first really posh date in years.
‘Get – off – me.’ She gripped the material and pulled down with all her might, but it wouldn’t budge.
Online, the corset had looked far more Agent Provocateur than Moulin Rouge fancy dress, but it would still be a treat for Seth at the end of their enchanting evening. Only when she’d done it all the way up the front to find her bosoms still page-three-free did she realise her error. Then it wouldn’t undo. The damned hook-and-eyes had become ensnared in the fabric and the more she pulled and tugged the more it gripped hold of her.
Tonight had to go well. If everything was perfect and romantic they could do this more often and things wouldn’t seem so . . . flat. Their relationship was fine, but watching other people’s lives on TV together every night and cooking the same old dinners in their PJs was making Claudia worry life was passing them by. She was not going to be stuck in a rut at thirty, so it was time to do something about it.
She heard his footsteps coming toward their bedroom.
‘What?’ Seth called through the door. ‘We’ve got to go.’
This corset would not derail their big night. With a shot of strength to rival the Incredible Hulk, Claudia struggled, tore and ripped the corset off her body, releasing her pink skin. Panting, she allowed herself a five-second victory dance before grabbing the first undies that came to hand.
‘Just wait there a minute.’ She sat down in front of her dresser and twisted a handful of diamantés into her dark hair, then ripped the cellophane wrapper off a second packet and went to town with them, too. You can’t have too many sparkles at Christmas. She pouted flirtatiously at her reflection. This was the first time she’d ever worn red lipstick and she thought it worked – hopefully it was more Taylor Swift than Joan Collins. Leaning into the mirror, she bared her teeth. The whitening toothpaste was definitely making a difference. ‘You’re a FOX – oops,’ she whispered, dabbing the spit from over-pronouncing the word ‘fox’ off the mirror.
She pulled on her brand new dress. Scarlet, no less. Tonight she would be dazzling and witty, and Seth would see her as his beautiful girlfriend – and not his glorified roommate – once more.
‘I’m ready. No – wait,’ she smiled to herself. ‘This is our first date: you have to pick me up.’ Why she was mimicking Katharine Hepburn’s accent she had no idea, it just seemed to fit with ‘dazzling and witty’.
There was silence behind the door. ‘What are you on about, “first date”?’
‘Well, our first date in a really long time. It’s special. Knock on the door.’
Claudia heard him sigh, but he banged on the doorframe. ‘Hellooooo, I’m here for our date.’
She flung open the door and grinned. After a moment he looked up from his phone. ‘You look nice. You ready?’
Claudia shimmied like she’d learned in Zumba. It probably didn’t look as hot as she hoped, since she nearly toppled out of her heels. ‘Do you like my dress?’ she prompted. Please like my dress. It’s for you.
‘Yep, it’s nice,’ he said, hitting send on his phone and stuffing it into his suit jacket. ‘Come on then.’
‘It’s red. Like LOVE.’
For crying out loud, Seth, meet me half way. He couldn’t have sounded more lacklustre if he’d tried. But this evening was about more than a red dress, so she brushed it aside and thought with excitement of their evening to come.
Claudia slipped her arm into his as she tottered out of the flat. It was a cold but clear night, and the strings of Christmas lights across the street blended into the starry sky.
This was the best Christmas present she could ask for, the perfect start to the season. This date, hopefully the first of many, was a new beginning for her and Seth, a rekindling of their romance. She was just brimming with anticipation.
‘I love our first date so far.’ She beamed up at Seth, treating him to her megawatt combo of scarlet lips and Hollywood-white gnashers, Marilyn-style. He looked down at her, amused.
‘What’s with all this “first date” stuff? We go on dates—’
‘Not proper dates; the pub with friends doesn’t count. This is a proper date.’ She blew him a kiss. ‘It’s romantic.’
Seth flung an arm around Claudia’s neck and sighed. ‘All right, fusspot, let’s romance you up. There’s nowhere I feel more romantic than at a bloody ballet!’ He winked and pulled her in close.
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas is the PERFECT Christmas read!
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 1 and 2 can be purchased here
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 3 and 4 can be purchased here
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 5 and 6 can be purchased here
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 7 and 8 can be purchased here
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 9 and 10 can be purchased here
The Twelve Dates Of Christmas : Dates 11 and 12 can be purchased here