It gives me very great pleasure to welcome back Lynda Stacey to Linda’s Book Bag to celebrate today’s publication of House of Christmas Secrets with an interview. Lynda previously introduced us here on the blog to Madeleine, one of her characters from another of her books House of Secrets, and you can read that post here.
Published today, 5th December 2017, by Choc Lit, House of Christmas Secrets is available for purchase here.
House of Christmas Secrets
This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas…
Last year’s Christmas at Wrea Head Hall didn’t quite go to plan which is why Jess Croft is determined this festive season will be the one to remember, for the right reasons. And she has plenty of reasons to be hopeful, she’s going to marry the man of her dreams, Jack Stone, seven days after New Year’s Eve.
However, as family secrets are revealed in hidden letters and two unexpected guests turn up on the doorstep, Jess is left wondering whether her life will ever be the same again.
Can Jess and Jack still experience a peaceful festive season that they had imagined or are there some problems that even Christmas can’t fix?
An Interview with Lynda Stacey
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Lynda. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and House of Christmas Secrets in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
HI Linda. Thank you so much for having me on you blog.
You want to know about me? Really… Lol…Well, I’m really quite boring. I work full time as a Sales Director, which means I get a fancy title in return for a lot of extra hours worked. I live in the countryside, in a small hamlet and if I didn’t go for a long walk to the end of the drive, I wouldn’t even know that I have neighbours. I can honestly say that I’ve lived here for ten years and still I have no idea of who lives next door but one.
Most of my days are a little like groundhog day, I get up, I go to work, I get home, eat tea and by 6pm I’m sat in front of the log fire in my pj’s. This is when I try to fit in a little writing, after which I go to bed and it all starts again.
Why do you write?
Because I feel that I have a story to tell. The stories build inside me and the characters begin to take over my thoughts. If I didn’t write it all down, they’d annoy the hell out of me until I did.
When did you realise you were going to be a writer?
At a very young age. I can’t ever remember not wanting to write a book. I had a real wish to see my name on the front of one.
I always loved books and used to go to the library all the time and I distinctly remember my mum having to take whole bundles of books off of me, tutting and saying, ‘Darling, you can only borrow six… just six… not all of them.’
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Easiest… lol..! None of it…!
I’m full of ideas, but with very little by way of ‘good’ education, I struggle with it all. I work very hard to create scenes, to keep the emotion in the words and to ensure that something happens on every page.
I really don’t find any part of it easier than another. All I know is that from somewhere the story emerges and if I’m honest, I have no idea where it comes from. Many times I read back what I’ve written and I astound myself with what it says.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I try to write on an evening. But I do prefer to write early in a morning. I like to get up while the house is quiet. It’s a time when I can get lost in the scene.
Your own life has been quite unpredictable. How has this led to your career as a novelist?
You’re right. My life has been a little unpredictable and certainly challenging, however I don’t allow my past to cloud my future, although I do use my experiences to give my novels emotion. I also think that my history has given me a strength and a determination to succeed and I wanted to make my mum proud, I really did… and if she’d lived she would have been proud. Even though it did take me a long time to realise that I really didn’t need to do anything very special, she’d still have been proud of me.
(I know your Mum would have been immensely proud Lynda.)
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about House of Christmas Secrets?
This was the book that I was never going to write. I’ve watched far too many film sequels that really didn’t live up to expectations. But, everyone kept asking me to write it, especially my publisher. And, how can you say no to your publisher… it’s impossible. I spent a long time thinking about how to write it. In House of Secrets, I’d pretty much thrown everything that I could at my heroine Madeleine and even I couldn’t be that cruel as to throw some more at her, so I picked up her sister’s story. Jess played quite a part in House of Secrets and I felt that she really should have her own story, besides she had one or two unanswered questions of her own, which I felt really deserved an answer.
House of Christmas Secrets follows House of Secrets. What essential elements do readers need to know about that first book to enjoy House of Christmas Secrets?
I’ve tried very hard to make this book stand alone. I bring some of the history back via memories, but I really hope that anyone reading House of Christmas Secrets wouldn’t feel as though they’ve missed out if they didn’t first read House of Secrets. Although of course, I’d love for the readers to buy and read both.
Many readers tell me they don’t read Christmas themed books before December. What do you think to this philosophy of reading?
Wow… I don’t know. I’ve never felt that it has to be a certain time of year to read a book. You don’t only read beach books on holiday, do you? If I love the author, or the subject, I’d be happy to read it at any time. I really do hope it’s picked it up all year round and that the word ‘Christmas’ doesn’t make people feel as though it’s only a book for December.
To what extent do you agree that a Christmas setting lends itself to books centred on relationships?
House of Christmas Secrets is definitely a book about relationships, however it literally could have been set at any time of the year, with the same storyline. Most people feel that Christmas is the perfect time of the year for love… personally I just think that December is cold.
You were part of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme. How did this impact on your writing and what advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
I was part of the RNA New writers scheme. I felt that it gave me a fabulous platform on which to learn. Once other authors found out you were on the scheme, they tended to take pity on you a little and give you little nuggets of valuable information that they probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable advising someone who’d published half a dozen books.
What advice would I give… GO FOR IT, focus and keep going. If it’s your dream to become an author, don’t give up. If I can do it… you can do it…! x
(I’ll bear that in mind if I ever stop blogging long enough to complete my own novel!)
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
Mmmmm, time to read, that would be nice. I rarely ever read unless I’m on holiday. At which time I love to read books by my many author friends.
If you could choose to be a character from House of Christmas Secrets, who would you be and why?
Oh, I’d love to be Nomsa. She works at the hotel in the kitchens and whatever happens she puts the kettle on and spends her days feeding everyone.
If House of Christmas Secrets became a film, who would you like to play Jess and why would you choose them?
That’s a really difficult question. Jess is of mixed race, she has crazy wayward hair that never looks brushed, but always looks perfect… my problem is that I don’t know of any actresses that look like this. So, maybe it’d be a chance for a newcomer.
Finally, Lynda, if you had 15 words to persuade a reader that House of Christmas Secrets should be their next read, what would you say?
This is so much more than a novel about Christmas, it’s about love & family.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Lynda.
About Lynda Stacey
Lynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.