It’s the A Little Book Problem Christmas Friday Night Drinks party tonight. I’m in a festive mood so, who better to be joining me for a knees up on the blog tonight than author of my current Christmas read, author and fellow RNA member…..Kiley Dunbar!
Kiley. welcome and thank you for joining me for Christmas drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Hi Julie! Thanks for having me! Nice place you’ve got here! Since it’s Christmas I’ve gone for some bubbly, by which I mean ALDI prosecco (my usual Friday night drink, to be honest.) I might go mad and add some cranberry juice to it. Cheers!
Slainte! I think I’ll have a mulled wine, it’s a bit nippy tonight. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
I think a nice bit of carolling round town with a few cups of mulled wine might be nice. Do you fancy that? I’ve always wanted to go carolling; never tried it.
Nice idea although, I must warn you, I have the world’s worst singing voice! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
My idol Phoebe-Waller Bridge would be amazing on a night out. She’s so funny, she’s gorgeous and super smart and I bet she’d be good at belting out the loud bits in O, Come all ye Faithful (we’re still going carolling, remember?) And for festive eye candy purposes can we invite my latest celebrity crush, the gorgeous Hyun Bin? If you haven’t seen him in Memories of the Alhambra you are missing a treat!
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is totally my girl crush, so I would love to spend an evening with her. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
At the moment I’m celebrating my festive novel doing well this season. It’s called Christmas at Frozen Falls and is set in gorgeous, snowy Lapland over Christmas week. It’s a One That Got Away reunion story and is super romantic, properly funny, and the most festive thing you could ever hope to read! I wrote it because I can’t get enough Christmas romance novels. I read them all year round and I just had to try one myself! I hope to write many, many more love stories set at this time of year.
I’m also putting the finishing touches to my next novel for Hera Books, which is coming out in the spring. You can expect a gorgeous cover reveal soon. This one is set in the western highlands of Scotland and is achingly romantic and also a bit of a weepy, but there’s joy and real humour too. Ooh, I can’t wait to share the details with you all in the new year.
All sounds exciting, can’t wait for more details! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
I was so proud when my debut, One Summer’s Night, launched in March 2019. I remember it going live at midnight and seeing my ebook and audiobook appear on my Kindle. It was overwhelming. I’d just turned forty and had been facing redundancy in my uni job (I lecture in English) and things had been tough for a long time, and then suddenly I’m a published author! It felt like a dream come true. Still does!
The biggest challenge has been balancing writing, teaching, and looking after my kids all at once. Sometimes it’s exhausting and earlier this year I got pneumonia. I think I was just generally run down. It stopped me writing for a whole month and I learned a hard lesson about how important it is to look after myself when I’m pushing myself to work hard. So 2020 is going to be all about eating well, getting enough sleep, taking time off, drinking enough water; the basic stuff we all sacrifice when we’re busy, and we really, really shouldn’t.
What an exciting year. I absolutely loved your debut, and I’m starting the Christmas book today, which I’m really looking forward to. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
Since it’s just us, and we’re aiming high, I want what all romance authors want: a movie adaptation! Imagine Christmas at Frozen Falls as a Hallmark or Lifetime movie! That would be a dream come true. But mostly, I want to have a long career writing books that make people happy.
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’ve just begun work on the early draft of the sequel to my debut novel, One Summer’s Night. It’s so comforting going back to see how Kelsey Anderson is doing now she’s opening her own photography studio, and it’s wonderful being back in Stratford-upon-Avon with her, my happy place. The sequel is set over the autumn and winter after her big summer far from home finding herself (and finding love). It won’t be published for a good few months yet, but it’s on its way!
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot when I was younger. When I first met my husband we visited India, Morocco, Egypt, and travelled all over Europe too. By far my most favourite place on the planet is Finnish Lapland.
In December 2018 we took the Dunbar babies for the holiday of a lifetime to Saariselkä to meet Santa and his elves. It was magical from the second we touched down in the arctic twilight. I poured all of the magic and romance of that holiday into Christmas at Frozen Falls which is set in a fictional resort somewhere near Saariselkä.
I love your bucket list idea! What would be on mine? I’d love to travel more in northern Europe and see an aurora sky over the fjords. Everything about Scandinavia is just so utterly appealing. And I’d really like to see more of the Scottish highlands and islands. I’m from near Edinburgh originally but don’t get back to Scotland nearly enough. Oh, and I’d love to visit Granada in Spain. That’s quite a long list, isn’t it?
Almost as long as mine! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I’m a huge BTS fan. Like HUGE. I love them!
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
You must read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca if you haven’t already! It is perfect. A masterpiece. Oh, and try her Frenchman’s Creek as well if you like hot, seventeenth-century, French pirates. And who doesn’t?
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .
Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.
I LOVE du Maurier! Rebecca is fantastic, and I have a huge fondness for Jamaica Inn too. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I know I should drink lots of water, take my make-up off properly, and have some Coke going nicely flat in the fridge overnight to help me recover tomorrow (only flat Coke will do when it comes to hangover cures), but I know I won’t remember to do any of that. Most likely I’ll wake up feeling rough with smudged panda eyes.
That’s how you know you’ve had a great night! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Wake up late (some chance with two kids under seven!), something nice for breakfast like square sausage on a roll with brown sauce (OMG!), a cosy start by the (electric) fire watching the Christmas tree lights twinkling while the kids play, then a stroll into town with Amos our Bedlington Terrier, a cuppa and cake in a nice café, a potter round the books shops, then home for a lazy afternoon with Cbeebies for the kids and a Christmassy romance novel for me. Perfect!
That sounds amazing! (Glad you went for the brown sauce and not the ketchup!) Kiley, this has been the most fantastic evening, thank you so much for coming out with me tonight. I’m off to curl up with your book now with a G&T in front of the fire.
Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar is out now and you can buy a copy here.
Christmas can thaw even the coldest of hearts…
Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…
Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.
When they meet, Stellan may be a bit grumpy but he’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable husky puppies).
But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?
Kiley Dunbar is the author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. Shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Debut Romantic Novelists 2019 for One Summer’s Night.
Kiley is Scottish and lives in England with her husband, two kids and Amos the Bedlington Terrier. She writes around her work at a University in the North of England where she lectures in English Literature and creative writing. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a graduate of their New Writers’ Scheme.
You can read my review of Kiley’s debut novel One Summer’s Night here.
Next week I will be enjoying my last Friday Night Drinks of 2019 and seeing in a new blogging year with author, Julie Ryan. Until then, may I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a