Evonne Wareham: A Crime Writer Trying Her Hand at Romantic Comedy!

Last week we released the fabulous Summer in San Remo by Evonne Wareham in paperback. Evonne normally writes romantic suspense and Summer in San Remo is her first foray into romantic comedy (with a hint of mystery) so today on the blog she talks about that transition – and what we could potentially expect from her in the future 😉

It’s common knowledge that I have criminal tendencies.

That’s in my writing life, I hasten to add. All the disreputable stuff is strictly on the page – I’m far too much of a scaredy-cat to go anywhere near anything nefarious in real life.

I’m not sure exactly what draws me to the dark side, but something does. As my signature writing genre is romantic suspense, this is not too much of a surprise – the thriller and the love story get equal billing in those books, but what happens when a romantic suspense writer turns to writing romantic comedy? You’re ahead of me – romantic comedy, with a dusting of crime.

Summer in San Remo, which has just come out in paperback, is my first venture into the lighter side of romance. Cassie and Jake spar and bicker and kiss and make up, in the tradition of romantic comedy heroines and heroes, while investigating a mystery that takes them – you’ve guessed it again – to the Italian Riviera. It was great fun to write and I like to think that the mystery element adds just a little bit of an edge to the story. It is a mystery, rather than an all-out crime – no dead bodies or truly nasty villains – I save those for the thrillers.

I drew on memories of a fabulous holiday that I spent in San Remo, some years ago, for a glamorous background. The book features locations on both the French and Italian sides of the border, with lots of sunshine, a luxurious villa, parties and masses of food, particularly ice-cream – and shoes – but the mystery is the thing that drives the plot. It’s the reason that Cassie finds herself in San Remo, back with her first ever boyfriend, Jake. When he disappeared to New York twelve years ago she never thought she’d see him again. And, of course, she never wanted to see him again. Of course she didn’t.

Right now she’s putting all her energy and talent into building a successful business, and she really doesn’t need distractions. And Jake seems determined to be one big distraction. Back in the U.K. to take over running the family detective agency for the summer, he’s filthy rich, even more gorgeous, and a complete pain in Cassie’s … neck. Unfortunately he also seems to be the only person who can help her with a job for a new and very enigmatic client …

And then somehow Cassie finds herself agreeing to take a trip to San Remo with him …

I had a really good time writing the book, and I loved spending time with Jake and Cassie – so much so, that I want to write more romantic comedy and I’m intending that Summer in San Remo should be the first of a series. That project is currently proceeding at the pace of a bed of sloths, but like all determined sloths, it will get there in the end.

A series naturally has to have a thread to hold it together and, with Jake involved in running a detective agency, that seemed to be the perfect choice. And a detective agency implies a certain amount of crooked goings on – and here I am back with the crime again.

I really can’t stay away from it.

Summer in San Remo is now available in paperback from all good book retailers and also as an eBook through all eBook sellers. Click on the image above for purchasing options. 

For more on Evonne
Follow her on Twitter @EvonneWareham
Like her on Facebook Evonne Wareham
Check out her blog www.evonneonwednesday.com

 

Hero Material

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We’ve recently released the long-awaited Summer in San Remo by Evonne Wareham, which is the perfect fun and sunny read for this time of year! One of the many intriguing aspects of the book is the rather gorgeous hero Jake and Evonne is chatting a little bit about him on the blog today. You’ll definitely want to meet him by the end!

There was a debate here on the Choc Lit blog a while ago about the appeal of writing the Beta hero. My fellow authors who specialise in them made an excellent case – I wouldn’t expect anything less – and I can understand the appeal of a cute Beta in certain circumstances, but he’s not really the hero for me. Some of that may be because I like to write romantic suspense and with the situations I throw at my characters, you need an Alpha to get them out again – handy with fists, guns, cars. Maybe he’s not so good at sorting the recycling, but then it’s not that sort of book. I’m not sure where the fascination came from – possibly too many hours in my misspent youth watching TV shows like The Professionals and The A Team? Am I a closet adrenaline junkie who wouldn’t dream of getting her hands dirty in real life, but is quite happy to inflict it on her heroine – who is capable and independent and up to the challenge, but clear-sighted enough to know when to accept help from an expert? I’ve really no idea, but that’s the sort of guy I like to write and I’m stuck with him.

Except … now there is Summer in San Remo. I haven’t given up on writing romantic suspense, but this book is a departure from my usual style. It’s the start, I hope, of a series of summer sunshine reads. It’s a romantic comedy, with a very light dusting of crime and mystery, so the new hero on the block is not quite like the others. Jake – well, when the book opens, Jake is … disgustingly rich, gorgeously good-looking, mega confident … and if we’re being truthful, a bit of a jerk. (Heroine Cassie is nodding furiously in the background here.) He’s very, very sure of himself, but all that is set to change when he goes sleuthing with Cassie on the Riviera. It’s not the kind of book where he’s called on to rescue Cassie from anything too life-threatening – thinking about it, at the start he’d probably pay for her to have a body guard, rather than doing the job himself. But he is protective of her, although it takes a while for him to realise it. I had a lot of fun creeping up on him and getting him more and more enmeshed in loving Cassie, and changing in the process. He likes to be in control, which made it all the more fun getting him out of his comfort zone. Cassie gives him an excellent run for his money until finally the penny drops for both of them …

Is Jake an Alpha? Most definitely, although all his triumphs have been in the board room, not on the mean streets. He’s the hero for the job in hand, which is dealing with a mystery, not catching a killer.

I like to unsettle my Alphas by getting them into a relationship they have never experienced before. On that one, Jake is no different – he’s never been in love before. Or has he?

 Really, he’s only got himself to blame for the mess he’s in …

Summer in San Remo is available as an eBook on all platforms. For buying options click HERE.

For more on the author, you can follow her on Twitter @EvonneWareham

Or check out her blog: www.evonneonwednesday.blogspot.co.uk

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from the Choc Lit Team and our Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2015. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.
Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy) 

And now a message from our Choc Lit Santas: 🙂

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juliet Santa photoJuliet Archer:  “As Jane Austen said in Emma, published 200 years ago this month: ‘This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.’ I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with lots of ‘friendly meetings’ and as little as possible of ‘the worst weather’.”

Santa - Rhoda BaxterPLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiRhoda Baxter: “Wish you all a fab holiday season with lots of chocolate, cake and nice warming books to read. See you next year.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

Fool's Gold

Zana Bell: Meri Kirihimete (Maori) everyone and many best wishes from New Zealand. May you all have a wonderful festive season. ”

 

AnnMarie Santa photo

AnneMarie Brear: “Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, (a perfect time to read good books) and a safe and healthy 2016!”

 

 

Jan Santa photo

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Jan Brigden: “Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful, healthy Christmas & New Year, with much festive good cheer, happy reading (and chocolate goodies aplenty!). Enjoy!”

 

Angela Britnell - Santa!

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Angela Britnell: “Wishing all of our Choc Lit readers a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year filled with good books!”

 

Sheryl Browne Santa!

 

9781781892350Sheryl Browne: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine … If you fancy a gorgeous hero to complete the scene, dip into scrummy Choc Lit book. Perfection. Have a lovely Christmas everyone!


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and good cheer, followed by a very happy 2016.”

 

An Irish Promise

Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val):  Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2016.”

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: “I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a peaceful, relaxing holiday hopefully with lots of time for reading! Thank you all for your support this year and here’s to a fantastic year in 2016!  Christina xxx”

Some Veil Did Fall

Kirsty Ferry - Santa!

Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy 2016. I hope you enjoy a festive season filled with cake, chocolate and a multitude of good books! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

9781781892206Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Wishing you sleighbells and snowflakes, mince pies andmulled wine, silent nights and holly-days, myrrh and magic moments, tinselled tots and festive pets, plus perfect peace, Christmas cheer – and to all a good night!”

 

9781781892466 Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whether you’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

Janet Gover - Santa!9781781892688Janet Gover: “May Christmas be a time of joy for you and yours – and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year filled with love and laughter.”

 

 

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with love, laughter and good books to read.”

 

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Linn B. Halton: Wishing everyone peace, love and happiness this Christmas time, and a wonderful start to 2016! Linn x

 

 

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Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: “Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”

 


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson: 
“Wishing you love, light and oodles of laughter this Christmas.”

 

 

9781781892701Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 that’s overflowing with good health and great books.”

 

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James: “Merry Christmas, readers and writers, and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you all.”

 


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson: “I’d like to wish everyone a very happy festive season and offer my best wishes for the new year.”

 


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine: “I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whether you are spending it with family or friends, or have chosen to be on your own surrounded by chocolates, wine and good books. May I wish you both good health and happiness throughout 2016.”

 

Jane Lovering - Santa!9781781892817Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me! JANE X”

 

9781781892176Sally santa photoSally Malcolm: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a New Yearfull of adventure!”

 

 

Alison May - Santa!9781781892947Alison May: “May your festive season be joyful and filled with books, chocolate and all good things. Happy Christmas one and all.”

 

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: “May your Christmas sparkle with happiness, surprises and above all else, good health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2016  xx”

 

 

DANCE UNTIL DAWNBerni Stevens - Santa!Berni Stevens: “Wishing everyone a Perfectly Paranormal Christmas and a peaceful New Year! Happy reading! Love Berni xxx”

 

Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas one and all. Here’s wishing you everything you would wish for yourself.”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2016 to you all!”

 

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “Wishing all Choc Lit readers a fabulous Christmas and as much romance and chocolate as you can handle in the year to come.”

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Happy Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – and health, happiness and lots of good books for everyone in 2016.”

 

Nick santa photo

Nicky Wells:  “Frohe Weihnachten und ein Gutes Neues! ~That’s “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in my native German, and I’d like to wish you both of those with all myheart. May your Christmas sparkle and may your 2016 be filled with love, laughter and happiness. Xx”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL! 

Write your own romantic suspense!

From the pen of Evonne Wareham

Choc Lit sent me an e-mail. As they do. How about giving us some tips they said – How to write romantic suspense?

Fine I thought – no problem.  So here it is – my top ten list.

Whoa! Wait a minute. I can tell you about how I write romantic suspense, but it might not be how you would write it. We’re all different, which is a Good Thing, as the world would be full of books that are all exactly the same, which might be a bit boring, after a while.

So – to start again. Here is my list of thoughts about writing romantic suspense. Things you might like to take into account as you write, or if it’s a genre that you’re wondering about. But it’s your book.

1.  Are we having fun yet?  

Write something you’re going to enjoy.  You’re going to be keeping company with these characters for quite a while, so you have to start off liking the idea. It’s fine to experiment and explore different genres, to find the one that is the best fit. Is romantic suspense right for you?

2.  Are you a good juggler? 

Romantic suspense mixes the ingredients of a romance and a thriller, in roughly equal measure. So you have to be happy with doing both. How you arrange it is up to you, but they do have to be intertwining parts of the story.

3.  Do you have criminal tendencies?  

Most romantic suspense has a crime at the heart of it, so you have to be comfortable with writing about it.

4.  How good are you at killing people? 

On the page! On the page! This is one point where you do not do personal research. This is where imagination comes in. But it can be disquieting, when you read back what you have written and wonder where it came from.  Creating evil villains can be disturbingly rewarding.  Or maybe that’s just me?

5.  Out damned plot!  

How much of a plotter are you? Do you enjoy it?  I used to think I was one of those who wrote into the mist – in vulgar parlance, a pantser. It gradually dawned on me that I wasn’t. I was a plotter who didn’t put pen to paper until the high points of the action were all worked out in my head.  If you enjoy plotting, then romantic suspense is a good place to do it.

6.  Warm, simmer, sizzle, volcano? 

 Only you can decide on your comfort level when writing love scenes.  But there are a couple of things to think about.  The love scenes are an essential part of the action, part of the character development of the hero and heroine, right for them and for the plot, at that time.  In this, the romantic suspense setting can be a help. Your hero and heroine are in extreme situations, probably with their lives being threatened. That can make things happen faster and in a more intense way.  And if the heroine has just been hiding in a small space, with this exceptionally hot guy

7.  Go on, thrill me. I dare you…  

If it’s a thriller then you’re talking roller coaster, nail-biter, more twists than a corkscrew. And if you can do it, a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter.

8. That is sooo romantic. 

While the hero and heroine are running around, saving the world, they also have to fall for each other, in a big way. So you need all the ingredients of romance as well as thrills and spills – the misunderstandings, the arguments, the hero who has problems making a commitment, the heroine with a dark secret in her past …

9.  My hero … Swoon. 

Choc Lit like their books to be written at least in part from the hero’s point of view, which is great, as you get to write about what he is thinking. I love watching the poor guy falling for the heroine and not knowing what’s hit him.  I go for the mysterious type, alphas, but not overbearing, strong and capable and very protective of the heroine. Those are my choices. Have fun making yours.

10.  And heroine?

 If I have one pet hate when I’m reading, it’s a wet heroine – the ‘too stupid to live’ kind. I try to write independent women who can run their own lives, but who recognise a situation that is too big for them to handle alone.  Part of the challenge of writing a heroine who can stand on her own feet is making her vulnerable in the right ways.

That’s it. My ten thoughts. I hope they help and if you’re writing romantic suspense, or thinking about it, that you enjoy the journey.

Evonne RD pic

Evonne Wareham was born in South Wales and spent her childhood there. After university she migrated to London, where she worked in local government, scribbled novels in her spare time and went to the theatre a lot. Now she’s back in Wales, living by the sea, writing and studying a PHD in history. She still loves the theatre, likes staying in hotels and enjoys the company of other authors through her membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Evonne’s debut novel, Never Coming Home won the 2012 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award, the 2013 Colorado Romance Writers’ Award for Romantic Suspense, the Oklahoma National Readers’ Choice Award for Romantic Suspense plus was a nominee for a Reviewers’ Choice Award from RT Book Reviews. Evonne’s novels include: Never Coming Home and Out of Sight Out of Mind.

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind. I don’t think so! ….. Liz Harris interviews Evonne Wareham

osom_packshot-2Winning the 2012 Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers was a magical moment for Choc Lit author Evonne Wareham, but it was just one in many special moments since the release of her romantic suspense debut novel, Never Coming Home.

March 2013 sees the eagerly-awaited release of her next novel, Out of Sight Out of Mind, a paranormal thriller, and I thought I’d ask Evonne a few questions about both the novel and about herself.

1. What would be a one-sentence synopsis of your new novel, Out of Sight Out of Mind, which is to be published in March 2013?

Mind reading scientist meets vagrant – then the fun begins.

2. The scientist in Out of Sight Out of Mind has a talent for reading minds. Is this a talent in which you have some first hand knowledge or experience?

No – this is one case of not writing from experience – strictly imagination.

3. What is your own favourite novel, and are there any particular novelists who have inspired you?

I have too many favourites to count – but my inspiration has to be the great American romantic suspense names – Nora Roberts, Karen Rose, Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag and a host of others.

4. What is your greatest fear?

No comment. I’ve learned enough from the dangerous men in my books never to make anything known that could be used against you, 🙂

5. What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?

How long do you have? You get used to adverse comment and rejection when you want to become an author – goes with the territory.

BREAKING NEWS There is an exciting bit of ’stop press’ news which can now be revealed about Out of Sight Out of Mind. Following other successful partnerships between Choc lit and National Express, the book is to be available as an exclusive pre publication download in the run up to 14th February – a Valentine gift from Choc lit.

Find out more at www.nationalexpress.choc-lit.com

If you’d like to find out more about Out of Sight Out of Mind, and read the opening chapters, click here

Choc Lit Double Whammy!!

A fantastic night for Choc Lit at the RNA’s Summer Party last night! Not only did Evonne Wareham win the Joan Hessayon award for Best New Writer, but Jane Lovering also won The Romantic Novel of the Year Award!

Evonne Wareham

Evonne Wareham

The Choc-Liteers were out in force to cheer them on and we all agreed that Evonne’s Never Coming Home and Jane’s Please Don’t Stop the Music were worthy winners and we were so pleased the judges agreed!

Jane Lovering

Jane Lovering

The party was held at the Royal Over-Seas League, just off St. James’s Street, in the lovely Hall of India, and it was buzzing to say the least. The room was decorated with balloons and posters in the new RNA colour magenta, which added sparkle to the event, and there was plenty of ‘fizz’ for us to toast the winners with. Over 240 authors and publishing industry professionals were in attendance, a lot of them looking very glamorous indeed and there was the usual high number of amazing shoes on display.

All in all, it was a fabulous night for us and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Evonne and Jane!

“Run …”

easterchickEaster is here and as with all holidays, it often seems to entail a lot of running around – buying eggs, preparing special food and perhaps going on egg hunts. So the Choc Lit authors thought we’d take time out to share some of our favourite Easter memories with you.

Happy Easter everyone!

Margaret – Easter was the time for egg-and-spoon races at my children’s infant school.  Okay, that was fine, I always enjoyed catching up on the gossip as the kids raced up and down the playing field trying (and usually failing) not to drop their eggs. But then, as the grand finale of the day, there’d be the mothers’ race.  I had to go in for it. Otherwise my children would have been shamed.  My children were shamed anyway, because I always came last.  These days, they both run marathons.  Obviously, they don’t take after me!

eastersueSue – As we were an army family, much of my childhood was spent in Germany, Cyprus and Malta, but we did have an English Easter when I was nearly four. My parents took my brothers and me to stay with my Yorkshire grandparents, apparently determined to visit every single one of Mum’s relatives. The advantage of this plan was that the haul of Easter eggs was incredible! Smarties, Flakes, Dolly Mixtures, Milky Way, an egg in a mug and one in an egg cup … In chocolate heaven, I gave every scrumptious one of them the same enthusiastic welcome. And, who knows? Maybe that was the onset of my chocoholism …

LindaEaster for me always conjures up Easter Sunday and going to church in clothes that came from a shop! Let me explain …my mother was a gifted dressmaker who sewed (or knitted) all my clothes – from knickers to winter coats with pockets and fancy collars. Easter was a very busy time for her as – in the 50’s which is where this memory comes from – she was always up to her eyeballs in wedding dresses and the first of the dozens of summer frocks she made. Our sitting-room picture rail used to be hung, not with pictures but with the most wonderful clothes shrouded in old sheets. So ….no time to make anything for me at Easter. If punching the air with delight had been ‘the thing’ then, I would have. My most favourite Easter outfit was a fine wool suit – how grown up was that aged 8 years! – with a pleated skirt and a little box jacket a la Coco Chanel. The material was a very pale pink check and I had a darker pink felt pillbox hat to go with it. And white cotton socks that came from a shop – not the itchy hand-knitted things I had to wear all winter. Gosh … such sartorial memories … excuse me, there are a few days left and I’m off to buy something new ...

easterchrisChris – The Easter holiday, when my daughters were very small, saw the latest batch of hand-made cards brought home from school and lovingly presented to Mummy and Daddy.  But what to do with all those cards without hurting little feelings?  Answer, put them in a box in the loft and rediscover them years later along with home-made books such as ‘Mother Hen Lub Her Chick’ and ‘Brown Hen goes Clack Clack’.  Here’s wishing you all a Happy Easter with a vintage card from me and my girls!’

EvonneEaster memories – my grandmother was very big on celebrating Bank Holidays in what she considered appropriate fashion – and for spring and summer, that meant a trip to the beach. At Easter the weather was a really mixed bag, which could involve playing on the sand with bucket and spade, gloves and gritted teeth, as the wind howled round.

When I was very small I wouldn’t eat the shells of the chocolate eggs. I wasn’t very into chocolate at all, in fact. I’ve made up for it since. My mother blames me for her subsequent addiction to chocolate egg shells!

To be continued tomorrow …

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 12

choclit-logoxmassmaller3We have reached the final day of our special Christmas blog series and we hope you’ve enjoyed our posts! Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and most of us are hoping to have a wonderful celebration of some kind. So we thought we’d end our ‘twelve days of Christmas’ by telling you about some of our most memorable New Year celebrations over the years – some good, some not quite what they were meant to be …

JaneI fell asleep with my face in a trifle once. But, you know, party … Sometimes, when I get a cold, there are still mandarin orange slices …

clxmaschampagneJuliet – 1999, fireworks, and that once-in-a-lifetime feeling – unless you’re a vampire – of being on the brink of a new millennium!

Chris – Being offered a Choc Lit contract in December 2009 was the realisation of an ambition I’d held since I was a little girl. Raising a glass at midnight on the last day of 2009, knowing that in 2010 I would be a published novelist, was a very special moment indeed!

Linda – Very low key really, 31st December 1999. A family meal with lots to eat and drink and a lot of laughs, stopping up until the early hours. It was what happened afterwards that was magical. My son and I were the only ones left standing and just before dawn we decided to walk down to a local cove and sit on the beach to watch the new century’s dawn. It was heart-stoppingly wonderful as the sun peeped up from the horizon. Someone let off fireworks on the headland and my son stripped to his boxers and went for a swim while I paddled in the shallows in a pancake flat sea. No photo, alas … we didn’t stop to think of that in our last minute decision to try and make a dawn of the millennium memory … shame.

Sue – May I have the funniest? I’d just begun a relationship and we went to a club in a hotel for New Year’s Eve. A lot of people in the club were laughing because there were two men in drag in a drunken stupor on a pool table in one of the outer rooms, and everyone was trooping out to look at them. So we went, too. And one of the guys came round from his drunken stupor and said, ‘Hello, Sue!’ It was Tony and Steve, who I’d been to school with. It wasn’t the impression I’d planned on making on my date …

EvonneThe year I fell in love for the first time, of course. I’m a romantic novelist!!

Margaret – I wonder why it seems right and even desirable to do the conga round the street on New Year’s Eve, but not at any other time of year? I used to live in Berkshire before I moved to Devon, and my next door neighbours always had great New Year’s Eve parties. I don’t remember them in any huge detail – I can’t think why – but the conga-round-the-street part sort of sticks in my memory.

KateMy favourite New Year’s Eve was only last year, when I went to Port Isaac in Cornwall with my family. We spent the evening in the pub by the harbour, drank champagne and nibbled canapés by the open fire, then moseyed down to the beach at midnight to drink wine, watch fireworks, and set off Chinese lanterns. And have a little paddle in the sea, of course!

Christina – Can’t remember the year (late 1970s?), but some school friends of mine were house sitting a small four bedroom house and decided to throw a New Year’s Eve party. Approximately 200 of our fellow students turned up … don’t think there was much left of the house or furnishings afterwards!  (Whenever I see the film 10 Things I Hate About You I think about that party!)

Henriette – One New Year’s Eve I spent with some friends in Copenhagen, and after the bells had rung in the new year, the guests trooped outside to set off fireworks, as tradition has it. But everyone in the street did the same and after a while the air was so thick with white smoke, it was like a cordite-scented pea-souper. It took the whole night for it to clear!

We’d love to hear about some of your most memorable New Year’s Eve parties, so before you start to drink champagne and sing Auld Lang Syne, please leave a comment below for a chance to win Christina Courtenay’s novel Highland Storms!

We wish you a very happy, healthy 2012 with lots of time for reading!

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 11

choclit-logoxmassmaller2New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching and it’s time to party! Champagne is usually a must, but we’ll need some party food or canapés to go with it if we are to stay awake until midnight. Here are some recommendations from the Choc Lit authors:-

JulietPut self in car, adding handbag or at least a credit card. Go to nearest supermarket, preferably M&S or Waitrose. Mix with rest of neighbourhood, who have the same idea. Boil gently while choosing a selection of canapés, then freeze when you get to checkout and see total bill. Add several bottles of wine to improve your mood.

Henriette – Steak with sauce béarnaise, served with oven roasted potato wedges and a spicy rocket salad, with a full-bodied red wine to drink and then fizz for later. Can’t beat it, and the diet … well, there’s always next year.

Kate – My favourite party food is sausage rolls. Yes, I don’t eat meat, but almost since day one I’ve been addicted to Linda McCartney’s vegetarian sausage rolls!

Margaret – I always let someone else sort this out. Waitrose does a lovely selection of canapés, dips and desserts!

Evonne – Anything that stays in one piece and does not end up as an inelegant smear down the posh frock gets my vote. Preferably something that can be eaten elegantly and does not leave crumbs around the mouth. I think this is a miracle food, not a canapé.

Chris – Quick, easy, delicious and slightly quirky.  No, not one of our heroes but my canapé recipe. Spread water biscuits (I like the ones with cracked black pepper) with a thin layer of greengage jam, top with blue cheese to taste – I can recommend Carmarthenshire Boksburg Blue!

SueGo to someone else’s house for New Year’s Eve. Seriously. You made all that Rocky Road, didn’t you? And you’ve probably cooked Christmas dinner, Boxing Day dinner, extra bank holiday dinner and a leftover turkey curry lunch for stray family members. Take a bottle of champagne and nobody will care if you haven’t cooked anything. They’ll probably have eaten too much by then, anyway.

clxmascanapeLinda – Not a food at all but a drink – a cocktail … although it will work as a dessert after an Italian meal which would be best served by, or shared with, an Italian … Francesco da Mosto would do it for me – and at least he’d be able to pronounce Sgroppino!

Sgroppino – Put half a shot of vodka, a quarter of a shot of double cream, one and a half shots of Prosecco and 3 scoops of lemon sorbet in a blender, whizz, then serve in a Champagne flute garnished with a lemon twist.

JaneWe don’t do New Year’s parties. We build a huge bonfire in the garden and sit and look at it. Sometimes there are peanuts, but that’s really all I can offer.

Christina – I love savoury canapés, but after a while I need something sweet to finish off with, so this is what I’d suggest – buy small, round shortbread biscuits, place them on a tray and put a tablespoon of whipped cream on each one, then a couple of strawberries, raspberries or blueberries (or one of each?) on top. Makes a small but perfect cream cake!

If you prefer savory, however, take some very dark rye bread, spread with butter and cut into little circles (use a shot glass and just push through the bread, that’s perfect size!), add a thin slice of boiled egg, then a tiny daub of mayonnaise, a little piece of pickled herring (or anchovy if you like those – I don’t!) and a teensy sprig of dill. Makes a lovely mouthful!

So now we’re all set for the party, right? Please come back tomorrow and we’ll tell you more …

Choc Lit Christmas Special – Day 9

choclit-logoxmassmallerYesterday we shared some delicious chocolate food recipes with you, but on a cold day, maybe all you need is a hot drink instead? Well, we might be able to help you with that too! Here are some of our “specials” that will warm you right down to your toes:-

MargaretWhy is it that chocolate and brandy go so well together? I guess we’ll never know, but I’m happy to carry on trying to find out. Some Cadbury’s hot chocolate, whisked into a foam and enhanced with some VSOP certainly keeps out the cold.

Sue – Lots of whisky, a spoon of clear honey, a little hot water. If you have a cold, add a Lemsip. Drink in front of a nice fire over a good book.

Chris – A large measure of Talisker, to be taken by the fire. I’ve had this on the deck of a boat on New Year’s Eve too and it’s equally good there.

Linda – Juice of a lemon, same quantity of brandy, a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon in a glass topped up with hot water.  Great if you have a cold.  Even greater on a cold night, wrapped up in bed with a good book!

JaneHalf fill a mug with single cream and half with milk. Add a few squares of good-quality chocolate and microwave gently until the chocolate has melted and the milk is hot. Stir. Top with large marshmallow (must be large, not those prissy little ones) and drink through the resulting sticky mass. Delicious. Unless you have a beard, in which case, leave off the marshmallow …

Henriette – Papa Gyland’s Red Wine Toddy – Fill a mug (or a toddy glass) with red wine to the halfway mark, add the juice of half an orange, then a measure of schnapps or brandy.  Sweeten with sugar to taste, and pour in boiling water.  Stir and serve steaming hot.  If you feel you’re about to come down with a cold, make up my father’s toddy and take yourself to bed immediately.  I promise you, it works.  Probably because no one dares to be ill after that …

clxmashotchocKate – Hot toddy recipes … oh dear I’ve already done mine! Hot chocolate with Baileys in it. It’ll cure whatever’s wrong with you. Including verticality.

LizI’m drinking hot chocolate now.  Recipe: put three heaped teaspoons of Cadbury’s Highlights into a mug, and (if, like me, you have a sweet tooth) either a heaped teaspoon of sugar or two artificial sweeteners.  Add boiling water, and stir.  It’s delicious. That’s the best I can do, I’m afraid!!  I have one mug of my hot chocolate (with sweeteners, not sugar) every afternoon, and I love it.

Christina – And mine is hot chocolate too (non-alcoholic), but a slightly different version. Take one teaspoon of cocoa and six teaspoons of white sugar and stir together in a mug. Add eight to ten teaspoons of double cream (or whipped cream if you have some to hand) and stir this in too. (I would recommend tasting at this point, very decadent!) Pour boiling water over this mixture, stir, and add a little bit of cold full milk to make it instantly drinkable!

Juliet – I’ll stick to wine!

And why not? It definitely keeps you warm! We hope you’re all nice and toasty now!?

What’s your favourite hot drink/toddy?  We’d love some more recipes to add to this collection!  And please come back tomorrow if you’d like to see some of our favourite Christmas photos – plus you’ll have a chance to win another Choc Lit title as well!