After the shock news about our Queen Elizabeth, it’s been a hard weekend and has affected all in the Emporium. Complimentary ‘hug and love’ tea has been added to each purchase to provide the feeling of a calming embrace to all who require one. She had a more of an impact on everyone’s lives than we realised and will be missed. Only Percy and the Marleys have known other monarchs in their lifetimes.
On a lighter note, today we are delighted to welcome Christina Courtenay, author of many timeslip novels to chat about her books and writing.
Monday Merry Meet: Christina Courtenay
Rosa: Hi Christina, Willow will be with you shortly. She is just dealing with a time crucial spell. It’s a pongy one, and the stench has crept out of the workroom into the backroom so we’ll chat out here on the shop floor if that’s ok? Can I get you a drink? You can choose any tea blend we stock, coffee or something stronger?
Christina: Thank you, any kind of fruit tea would be lovely – blackcurrant, perhaps? With lots of milk and sugar, please.
Willow: Hi Christina, glad you have a drink. Did Rosa explain about the backroom? No one wants to sit in a room that stinks of rotten eggs. Amber sends her apologies too: she’s stuck at college today. Have a seat.
Your latest novel is called Hidden in the Mists. Please, can you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?
Christina: Hidden in the Mists was inspired by a combination of the Galloway Hoard (a Viking treasure found in Galloway in 2014) and the west coast of Scotland. During the Covid lockdown, I was trying to come up with ideas for a story where I was already familiar with the setting, as we weren’t allowed to travel. I’ve always loved Scotland and have a friend who lives on the coast just opposite the island of Jura, so that seemed ideal. (She was able to help with details if my memory failed). And the hoard found in Galloway had long been on my mind as I wondered what it would feel like to find something like that and why someone would bury a treasure and then not return for it. The ideas for the plot grew from that.
Rosa: Your novels are a combination of sweeping romances and time-slip. What made you choose this genre mix?
Christina: Ever since I read my first time-slip (or dual time, as some people call it) novel, I’ve been drawn to this sub-genre. I think it’s a combination of the paranormal/magical possibilities and the fact that you get to have two love stories for the price of one, as it were. There are usually two couples, one in the past and one in the present, and they are connected through time somehow. The idea of twin souls or two people destined to love each other for eternity and through the passage of time really appeals to me.
Willow: We love to hear about writer’s publication journeys. What has yours been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?
Christina: My road to publication was very long! I started writing when my older daughter was a baby as I wanted a job I could do while still being a stay-at-home mum to her, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. (I was very naïve!) I eventually got published the week after she left home aged 21, so things didn’t quite go to plan … But perseverance pays off! I don’t think I would have done anything differently as I did everything I could to learn and improve as a writer during those years.
Rosa: Do you have a set writing routine?
Christina: No, not really. I try to write every day or if I’m not writing; I do research and take notes. But sometimes the words just don’t flow and I give myself time off until inspiration strikes. If I am feeling inspired, I can write all day and all night so it evens out eventually.
Willow: Several customers long to be writers. What advice would you give to those wanting to give it a try?
Christina: Join some kind of writing group or organisation and try to learn as much as possible about the craft of writing. And, if possible, find yourself a writing buddy – someone who is at the same stage in the process as yourself and whose opinion you trust. Writing can be a very lonely business and it’s great to get to know other authors who understand the journey you are on. I belong to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, for example, and they have lots of events and regional groups where the members support each other. That’s been brilliant for me!
Willow: The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?
Christina: I think I would choose luck, because that’s always useful, or possibly confidence – as an author, it is very easy to lose confidence in your own writing and start to doubt what you are doing.
Willow: One candle we stock invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit? Where would it take you?
Christina: Probably to Japan during cherry blossom season. It is one of my favourite countries and there is so much to see and do – I just love it there!
Willow: I agree with you. I loved Japan when I visited and the cherry blossom is spectacular.
Rosa: If you could spend a week in a different era, when would it be and would it be in a particular location?
Christina: Obviously, I’d love to go back to Viking times and it would be fun to spend time in one of the trading towns like Birka or Jorvik.
Willow: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium, have you had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?
Christina: Personally I haven’t experienced anything paranormal, but I used to stay regularly at a 600-year old manor house which had a resident ghost. The owners had seen him and he was young, handsome, blond and wearing chain mail, so I was very upset that I didn’t get to meet him. I did base a story on him and that house though – The Silent Touch of Shadows – so I got to spend time with him in my imagination at least.
Willow: He sounds fascinating and we’ll have to keep an eye out for that book. It’s added to my TBR list. If we could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?
Christina: I’d like to be able to travel in the blink of an eye as I hate travelling – traffic jams, long journeys, airplanes … could really do without those!
Willow: Good choice. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?
Christina: I love Sarah J Maas’s series starting with A Court of Thorns and Roses, it’s fantastic! But I’d recommend adding any books by Susanna Kearsley, Nicola Cornick or Barbara Erskine too.
Rosa: We’re all Barbara Erskine fans here. How important is a happy ever after ending to you and which romance would you add to my box of Romance?
Christina: The happy ever after ending is everything! I refuse to read books that don’t have a HEA (and yes, I have been known to check before buying) as I feel that the real world is too depressing and we need happiness in the stories we read. I read so many wonderful romance books it’s hard to choose just one, but anything by Sue Moorcroft is always guaranteed to be wonderful.
Willow: She is a great author to read at Christmas. Finally, what are you working on now or is it top secret?
Christina: I’m working on the next book in my Vikings Runes series – Promises of the Runes – which will be published in April next year. It’s the story of Ivar Thoresson, a 21st century archaeologist who decides to travel back to the Viking era to see what it was like. And the reality is a lot more than he expected …
Willow and Rosa: Thanks so much for visiting. It’s been lovely to chat.
Christina: Thank you so much for inviting me!
A love forged in fire lives on through the ages
Skye Logan has been struggling to run her remote farm on Scotland’s west coast alone ever since her marriage fell apart. When a handsome stranger turns up looking for work, it seems that her wish for help has been granted.
Rafe Carlisle is searching for peace and somewhere he can forget about the last few years. But echoes of the distant past won’t leave Skye and Rafe alone, and they begin to experience vivid dreams which appear to be linked to the Viking jewellery they each wear.
It seems that the ghosts of the past have secrets . . . and they have something that they want Skye and Rafe to know.
Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and time travel stories, and lives in Herefordshire (near the Welsh border) in the UK. Although born in England, she has a Swedish mother and was brought up in Sweden – hence her abiding interest in the Vikings. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several awards, including the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel twice with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014) and the RNA Fantasy Romantic Novel of the year 2021 with Echoes of the Runes. Hidden in the Mists (timeslip/dual time romance published by Headline Review 18th August 2022) is her latest novel. Christina is a keen amateur genealogist and loves history and archaeology (the armchair variety).