Today the wonderful Emma Hamilton joins me on the blog to talk about her novella Christmas Cravings.
Christmas Cravings is your latest festive treat. Can you tell us a little about it?
Christmas Cravings is the ninth episode in the adventures of Mia Maxwell, aka Greedily Yours. The book begins in a German Christmas market where Mia was meant to have gone with Tom after an amazing, if obstacle filled, year together. But something goes wrong just before they are due to leave and the book is Mia’s attempt to work out what went wrong, with Lizzie helping her to understand herself and her relationship with Tom. Along the way, the two of them get to sample lots of delicious treats in Germany and get in the spirit of Christmas, which they both love.
What was your favourite part of writing this instalment in Mia’s story?
I loved the chance to write an extra instalment in Mia’s story as I didn’t want to leave her behind after the first eight episodes. So first of all it was just a joy to get to develop things a bit more and jump the story on a little bit. Of course I loved describing and imagining all the different foods they would taste and cook and then just trying to tie all the threads of the first eight episodes together in this ninth one, because when I originally conceived of the series, it worked with just eight episodes, so it was a real challenge how to make sure everything fitted, but the book would also stand alone if someone hadn’t read the first eight but just fancied a Christmas treat.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
The hardest part was probably also that, trying to tie all the threads together and make it plausible and in keeping with what I felt the characters would do. I was writing through the summer and so it was a bit weird sitting in shorts and writing about Christmas and snow falling, when I really wanted to be eating summer fruits and ice cream.
What is your favourite Christmas food?
Is it cheating to say, Christmas dinner? Which for me, means turkey and all the trimmings. I love it all, the stuffing, the bread sauce, the Cranberry sauce, the brussel sprouts, the leeks, the carrots, the parsnips, the roast potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the sausages, bacon, turkey and gravy. I couldn’t really miss any of them out. But my family would probably tell you it is the cranberry sauce, after one year I had a meltdown because Mum had forgotten to buy any and I couldn’t believe that I had to eat the whole dinner without my jar of cranberry!
If you could only listen to one Christmas song again, what would it be?
Ooooh, god, that would be hard. I love Santa Baby, I love Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody, just because it reminds me of my childhood and is deliciously catchy and tacky at the same time. I love all the carols. But the one I really couldn’t live without is probably Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. I have to play that every year and it’s just brilliant to shout along to whilst you’re cooking on Christmas morning, or wrapping presents on Christmas eve.
Describe your perfect Christmas day.
In a nutshell, my perfect Christmas Day involves the people I love, plenty of food and wine and giving and receiving presents. I guess that’s pretty typical but it’s true. If you want more details, I like to wake up and read a Christmassy book in the morning for a few pages. Then I go downstairs and make tea and coffee for everyone. Some years, when I’m feeling very virtuous, I will go off jogging with my brothers before breakfast, some years, we go for a family walk after breakfast, which consists of bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese. Some years, I’ve made everyone Bellinis or bucks fizz with breakfast, but that depends on how much, and if, we’ve drunk the night before with friends.
After breakfast, we normally open our stockings and I like to wait and watch everyone else, which annoys my brothers no end as they still like to tear everything off quickly and discover what they’ve got. We’ll then make more tea and coffee and move into the living room where the tree is and open some more presents all together.
At some point after that I definitely like to do some kind of activity, a walk, or a run or a cycle ride, to prepare for the calorific onslaught which awaits me.
We generally aim to eat about 2 and end up eating about 5pm, which suits me fine, because basically I’m beached for a couple of hours after the huge meal. Then we play games. I would prefer to play board games but I have nephews who love the games we played as children, Murder in the Dark and Sardines, so we all troop round the house, some more willingly than others, hiding in the dark and making ghost sounds and being silly.
When the kids have gone to bed, we might have a baileys or a whisky or brandy, some Christmas cake or a sausage roll and watch a Christmas special. We all love Downton so the last few years, that’s been our big Christmas watch together and any period drama going basically.
Lastly, mince pies or Christmas cake?!
Can I have both??? As long as I make them, because I don’t like marzipan on my Christmas cake, I like brandy or rum butter icing, like on my boozy woozy Christmas cake recipe. And in my mince pies, weirdly, given my cake preferences, I like inserting little balls of marzipan in the mincemeat before cooking which makes them lovely and moist, I learnt that from a friend of mine and have made them like that ever since.
Huge thanks to Emma for answering these questions!