I can't believe that it was almost 2 years ago since I first featured Lisa Dickenson on the blog in a debut spotlight and interview. With a further two serials under her belt Lisa's publishing journey comes full circle as this Thursday sees her debut serial The Twelve Dates of Christmas being published as a paperback.
Your first serial The Twelve Dates of Christmas is being published as a paperback on Thursday, can you tell us a little bit about it for anyone who hasn't read it yet?
Sure! It’s a festive love story that intertwines friendship, heartache, forgotten chemistry and happiness. It’s as packed-full of Christmasyness as a box of Quality Street!
Were any of the dates featured in the book based on your own dating experience?
Not quite, but I have been to most of the locations. I had a ‘date’ to the Royal Opera House to see The Nutcracker with my sister-in-law, the festive wedding is kinda like my own wedding (though I married a man), and I have been known to knock back the mulled wine at Covent Garden…
All three of your books so far have been published in weekly installments, was it always your intention to publish them this way when you were writing them?
It was – when I first made my Twelve Dates deal with Little, Brown they asked for me to write and publish it in installments, and the same went for You Had Me at Merlot and Catch Me If You Cannes. It’s actually a great introduction into professional writing, because you have all these stages at which you can get feedback and suggestions for improvements, which is invaluable.
How disciplined in planning do you need to be when writing serials to ensure that each installment has enough storyline/intrigue to keep readers wanting more?
Very! And that’s where the help of a great Editor comes in. When writing you picture it all in your head like a movie, but sometimes you don’t quite manage to get it all on the page to the same effect, so an Editor can tell you when you need to tighten things up or take it a bit slower to increase tension for cracking cliffhangers.
Describe Claudia in three words.
Kind, hopeful, growing.
If The Twelve Dates of Christmas was to be made into a tv series, who would your dream cast be?
That would be AMAZING. Kev from Bookevin once suggested Zooey Deschanel for Claudia, and I think that’s a great match. Penny would need to be played by someone petite as she’s got to be a teeny weeny ballerini, so maybe Hayden Panettiere or similar? Nick I’m not sure, I’ll let the readers decide who they’d want – I want Nick to be everyone’s favourite leading man, of course!
What can we expect from you next? Is it going to be another serial?
Actually, no more serials from me for the time being – my next two books are going straight into full-length paperbacks, with the previous serials being turned into paperbacks as well. My current WIP is a festive book based in New York, due out autumn 2016, so I’ve been listening to heaps of Christmas music over the past few months to get my head into it.
How did your writing journey start?
It started when I was quite young and would write my own versions of Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins books, but unsurprisingly that didn’t get me anywhere (not least because I usually got bored after the first chapter, once I’d described what everyone was wearing). My professional writing journey started in 2013 when I submitted a short story to Belinda Jones’ Sunlounger short story competition and it was shortlisted. From there I was asked to submit some sample material to Little, Brown as they were keen to publish a debut author in the format of a serialised Christmas book, and since then, Manpreet (my Editor), Hannah (my agent) and I have been BFFs. Whether they agree or not.
If you were given the opportunity which character from one of your previous books would you love to go back and revisit again?
I’m so fond of Claudia and Nick because that’s where it all started, and I think Penny has a story to tell also. But I’ve got an awesome title for a You Had Me at Merlot Christmas sequel up my sleeve, so Elle might have to open the doors to the vineyard again for me..,
What essentials do you need to have to hand whilst writing?
Mood music (e.g. Christmas music when writing a Christmas book, sad tunes for heartbreak scenes, etc.) and nobody I know nearby (I’m too easily distracted if I have lovely friends and family around, but strangers are okay, as long as they’re not peering at my screen!)
When you've finished writing/or published your novels, do you treat yourself to a reward?
My dream would be that one day I could give up the day job and my ‘reward’ for finishing a novel would be a big fat holiday, but often at the moment by holiday leave is needed for writing, so instead my rewards are more low-key – my favourite pizza, a big walk on the beach, a bit of champers straight from the bottle…
At thirty, Claudia's life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life - and Christmas - alone.
Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It's also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing's for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different...