Sunday, 1 December 2013

It's not a pantomime with Holly Kingston

Holly started her life as a child. When she grew substantially taller and learnt how to read she decided that she’d jolly well like to write books herself. Whilst at college Holly had a slight change in her career focus and decided to become a marine biologist. On discovering that she sucked at science and that her future job was unlikely to involve monitoring anything larger than sea plankton, Holly went back to the drawing board and got a Bsc in Psychology instead.

She studied with Scriptwriting North and wrote her first film, along with a number of shorts and a sitcom pilot. After several years of writing, rewriting, and hiding stuff for posterity on her hard drive, she sent her first novel to The Marsh Agency where she is now represented by Hannah Ferguson.

She is currently working on her second full length novel and wondering how to lose the weight she’s put on whilst writing her last book. Her first novella A Cinderella Christmas is out this November.

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Your novella is called 'Cinderella Christmas', please could you tell me about it?
Lucy Tilley’s a dancer in this year’s Cinderella pantomime, but this Christmas things aren’t going too smoothly. Her new friend, the stunning and glitzy Charmaine, has tried to help Lucy by getting her “a promotion”. But the back end of the pantomime cow isn’t quite what Lucy had in mind. And she’s mortified as she’s working alongside her ultimate crush, TV star Ryan Aspall. Flirting and cow costumes don’t mix! Her friend Ben is also trying to help out with her career, but Lucy’s lack of confidence, along with an unfortunate incident on Christmas Eve, threatens to derail her friendships, her job, and her Christmas completely. Oh! And there’s a really cute dog in it called Lenin. He’s fab.

'Cinderella Christmas' is about Lucy, please could you tell me a bit about her?
Lucy’s in a job which is surrounded by glamour and fame, but her life doesn’t seem to contain any of those elements. She’s got a little bit blinded by the lure of celebrity and is mesmerised by the glamorous Charmaine, who seems to have everything that Lucy’s world lacks. Lucy wants to push herself at work, but she doesn’t have the confidence to pull herself out of her comfort zone. And she’s hugely attracted to the rather beautiful Ryan Aspall, although she doesn’t think she’s in his league.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I’d had stuff sitting on my hard drive for years. I almost didn’t try to get an agent as I was so scared of being told that I couldn’t write for toffee. But my boyfriend politely read some stuff and was very surprised that he liked it (thanks for that Steve!) so he encouraged me to try for representation. Signing with The Marsh Agency was sooo exciting. Then you realise you now have to submit to publishers, which is just as scary, and your goal posts seem to have relocated. I don’t think I’ll ever have nice fingernails again. I’m still not in my comfort zone. I’m like the new kid in a very big school.

Are any of the characters in 'Cinderella Christmas' anything like you?
Lucy’s dislike of the limelight is definitely something I can relate to. Someone threw me a surprise birthday last year and my initial reaction on seeing all my friends was OMG where can I hide! Like Lucy I danced on stage a lot when I was younger. But the idea of having a lead role gave me the eebie jeebies!


Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them. So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
Great question and I’m almost tempted to say Charmaine! It’d be interesting to have a girlie day with her, just to learn all the beauty tricks of someone sooo high maintenance! But I love writing scripts and plays, so I’d hang out with Ben, so that we could write something together. Although I’d have to take Lenin for a walk at some point! He’s such an awesome little critter.

If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?
I think I’d head straight for the airport. Keeping my tweezers and all my toiletries in my hand luggage (I’ve had more tweezers confiscated than I’d like to admit) I’d stride through customs without being frisked. (I always get frisked – don’t know why, it’s probably the tweezers thing!) At the gates I’d look for a jumbo jet heading somewhere exotic, hmmm, how about Fiji? Then I’d board the plane and turn left, yes LEFT! (I’d probably do a little dance as I walk into the posh bit of the plane. First Class is never full surely!?) And then snuggle down into one of the fancy bed/seat things, awaiting my gourmet food with proper metal cutlery and everything. Then I’d order myself a bottle of Champagne and enjoy a hangover free tipple.

If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
That’s a toughie. I’d say Wild Swans by Jung Chang. It was bought for me as a present, and was outside my usual genres, so I avoided it until I had nothing left to read...and was completely hooked. I couldn’t keep my nose out of it! It’s startling to learn how quickly society changed in China. And beautifully written from the female perspective, it’s an absolutely extraordinary book.

What or who in life inspires you?
My Dad passed away thirteen years ago. He was only fifty six, fit and healthy, it came totally out of the blue. It was an awful shock and a terrible time, but it did teach me not to take anything or anyone for granted, and to try and live life to the very best of my ability. He still inspires me to appreciate stuff more. And he was flipping funny, and he had one of the best smiles in the whole world!

What is your all time favourite book?
That is such a tricky question! It varies depending on my mood! Today I’ll say Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It’s a classic and I love it.

What's the best Christmas gift you've ever received?
My first ever eReader! I actually didn’t want one. I was adamant that my books had to have proper paper pages. Now I love it, although I can get a bit trigger happy with my downloading, especially pre holidays!

Describe your perfect Christmas:
I’d need a time machine! My perfect Christmas will always be in the past. But it’s a very lovely hug of a memory; of a huge family affair in the old house where I grew up, with hustle and bustle, way too much food, lots of warmth and tons of laughter.

Prince Charming is waiting for you under the mistletoe, what's he like?
Well he’d have to be tall cos I’m like a giant woman. Ok so I’m not that tall, but I do like wearing heels. And he’d need to have a And twinkly eyes and dark hair....Oh, and he absolutely must be called Steve and live in our house!

In 'Cinderella Christmas', Lucy is the back end of the comedy cow, what's your most embarrassing Christmas memory?
Attempting to cook my first ever Christmas dinner was pretty disastrous. I’m a highly talented microwave technician (stabbing cellophane with a fork is my signature dish) but I’m not a cook. I’m also not very good at physics, so of course I bought a turkey that wouldn’t fit in the oven without having bits sawn off. Then I burnt the mash potato. (How the hell does anyone burn mash? Stupid electric hob.) And I managed to serve up without having actually boiled the carrrots. (Got a smidge distracted by the mash debacle.)

Please would you share who your 5 dream Christmas party guests would be?
Ok I’d start with Jamie Oliver in the kitchen. If I’m having a dream dinner party then I’m sure as hell not cooking. I wouldn’t want to poison them. Then I’d have Benedict Cumberbatch, not because I think he’s all lovely and fabulous in Sherlock,’s because he IS Sherlock and he’d be awesome at Christmas quizzes and all that clever stuff. Manning the bar I’d have Oscar Wilde (in fact I’d get him in early to do the wine shopping, reckon he’d be good at that). Right, now I need a charade’s buddy, so for that I’d have to go for Derren Brown. Winning team me thinks! And for a girlie chat I’d have to pick Beyonce, surprisingly enough I’ve never actually met her, but she just seems like she’d be lovely.

At your dinner party, there's a cocktail in honour of 'Cinderella Christmas' what are the ingredients?
Love this! I don’t know if it has an official name but I’d call it the Goldenella Fizz. It’s a simple one but a goody. Put a single shot of Amaretto into a Champagne flute and then top up with Prosecco. It’s absolutely lovely. And Aldi do the most bargainest Amaretto!

Thanks so much for all the fab questions!!!!

A huge thank you to Holly for talking to The Love of a Good Book. If anyone needs me, I will be in Aldi looking. For Amaretto!

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