We have been lucky enough to catch up with Belinda to find out a little more about her new book and the adventure she undertook to help create this fantastic read.
1) Tell us a little about your new book.
Sparkling snow. A ye olde fairytale kingdom in the midst of a Winter Carnival. Maple syrup pie. Hundreds of Husky dogs. And a man called Jacques.
2) What research did you have to do for this book?
I think the most significant 'research' was sleeping on a bed of ice at the Hotel de Glace! I really felt I had to have first-hand experience to write about it, especially since it's the opening scene in the book, but oh my! Never again! All through the night I kept checking my nose was still there and hadn't snapped off like an icicle. Compared to that, the rest of the research was a breeze, or rather a sub-zero lacerating wind. But I've always loved big fluffy hats and fleecy mittens so it was actually fun to be thigh-deep in snow. I basically spent a week in Quebec during their fabulous Winter Carnival and a couple of days prior in Montreal. Plus I've been going to Cirque du Soleil shows for the past ten years (one of the characters is an extremely bendy aerialist) so that came in handy!
3) What was your favourite book of yours to write and why?
Until now it was I LOVE CAPRI because the idea for that literally came to me in a dream and it was heavenly to keep re-visiting Capri, even if it was just in my imagination after the first visit. But now, it's definitely WINTER WONDERLAND. I fell head-over-heels in love with Quebec, it's such a magical place and I've never written a book so fast, the words were pouring out of me (and it can be such a tortuous extraction process!) so it really was a pleasure, even the passages that had me streaming with tears as I wrote them! Not that it's a sad book but one of the themes is particularly poignant!
4) What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
I'm still in the midst of reading The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. It's a brilliantly funny and fascinating exploration of the 'happiest' countries in the world from a former foreign correspondent, who spent most of his career reporting from the most miserable, desperate places! There's even a chapter on the UK! I recently went to hear this author talk at a book festival in Charlottesville, Virginia... I was a bit early so I stopped into this cafe for a chai latte and to read one more chapter (on Bhutan!) and this man approached me and said, 'How are you enjoying the book?' and I went into this gushy rave and then he said, 'I wrote that.' It's always been a dream of mine to see a stranger reading my book and it was such a kick to have that reversed in this way. His talk was hilarious and of course I got him to sign my copy! "Follow your bliss!" Good advice for one and all!
5) What I love about your writing is the descriptive writing of various locations abroad, is there anywhere you havn't been that you would like to go?
Thank you! And yes, so many places! Madagascar and Galapagos for the animal life. After visiting Quebec, I'd love to see more of Canada, particularly the polar bears of Manitoba. And then St Petersburg, Russia. For the vodka!
6) Are you currently working on your next book and if so is there anything you can tease us with!
I am! In fact my deadline is January so I'd better get a bloomin' move on! It's a cake-themed caper around New England called THE TRAVELLING TEA SHOP. A group of British women (including Laurie who you will meet in WINTER WONDERLAND) take a scenic road trip across seven states to trade classic English recipes such as Battenburg and Victoria Sponge for American favourites such as New York Cheesecake, Red Velvet Cake, Boston Creme Pie and Whoopie Pie! (Both pies are in fact cakes!) Three of the women are related and there's a bit of family drama going on there, not to mention the fact that they are taking this trip in a red London bus! There are some great stops along the way, including Manhattan, Cape Cod, the Von Trapp Lodge in Vermont and my personal favourite, Newport, Rhode Island which has strong ties with Downton Abbey! All will be revealed, including a host of yummy recipes, autumn 2013!
7) You are stuck on a desert Island what are your 3 must have items?
1. A frozen yoghurt machine dispensing some refreshingly zingy flavour like lime.
2. My dog Bodie. Watching him romp at the beach is one of my greatest pleasures in life! He's even learning to swim - albeit with chin in the air and a slightly panicked look on his face. Plus he could dig us a nice sleeping hole.
3. A notebook and pen so I can write about the experience!
Thank you Belinda for taking the time to talk and to tease us!
My review of Winter Wonderland will be on the blog on Thursday.
There will also be a chance to win your own copy of Winter Wonderland!