Blog Tour: Christmas Cravings - Q&A with Emma Hamilton

 Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Emma Hamilton, author of the Greedily Yours Series, to my blog for a fun and festive Q&A!

Hi Emma and welcome to Alba in Bookland. Now, let's start with an easy one. Tell us your best Christmas memory from your childhood 

Ooooh, there are so many to choose from. because I've always loved Christmas. But probably one that happened every year and so I remember it clearly is our Christmas ritual with my brothers and parents. We used to go and see Father Christmas every year at Selfridge's when we were kids. So we'd set off after school one evening in December and get the tube or the bus to the west end. Of course it would already be dark and so all the lights of the west end would be glittery and bright and exciting. There'd be chestnut braziers on the corners of Oxford St and Regent St and I loved that smell of roasting chestnuts and the men's calls in the frosty air. Sometimes we used to get bought a bag of chestnuts to share, sometimes we'd be in too much of a rush to push up from Oxford Circus towards Selfridge's and the Christmas mecca. It was crowded then too and there was always a bit of a crush but somehow, perhaps it's nostalgia, it didn't seem as crowded as it does now and the sparks from the braziers would be flying in the air as buses chuntered past with that low tug of a diesel engine. I remember the scratch of my wool duffel coat and my gloves and bobble hat which would itch my forehead, this being the seventies and before too many softer microfibres had crept into wool clothes. We'd stop to look in the big department store windows, marvelling at the lights and displays, the glitter and all the things on offer to buy. Then we'd get to Selfridges and carefully walk around all the windows so we could soak up the theme. They were always magical. Then we'd go up and up on the escalators, normally to one of the higher floors where the Christmas grotto was. As we got nearer, we'd see the trail of snow and glitter and toys and then we'd shuffle through the long queue to see Father Christmas. I was always a bit shy of that actual bit, although I loved believing in Father Christmas so I really thought it was him there in the grotto. This was also before every shop had a Father Christmas, so it really did seem magical to a small kid. After we'd seen him, we'd have a look around the toy department and dream about the things we might put on our list to him and then we'd head back to Regent St and Hamley's and then dinner at Garfunkels. Garfunkels was our family Christmas treat. We LOVED that restaurant and the salad buffet where you were allowed to pile as much as you could on one big plate. My Dad had a system where he would carefully construct a tower of food and then get us to choose which dressings we wanted. We loved Thousand Island and Blue Cheese at the time. It makes me laugh now as I always think that is seventies and early eighties food and it was before I knew pasta should be al dente and Pasta Al Fredo doesn't really exist in Italy, and definitely doesn't come smothered in cream and butter and cheese and mushrooms. But I LOVED pasta al fredo there with the earthenware dish sizzling still, or Cannoloni with loads of salad. I know, all my Italian friends would refuse to speak to me ever again, but that was considered the height of sophistication then and was literally a once a year treat. I think that all sticks out in my mind because the best bit about Christmas for me is the food and the build up to the big day. I always feel a bit sad when we actually arrive because then I know it's nearly over. 

What a fantastic memory! Next, what's your least favourite Christmas Carol?

My least favourite Christmas carols are the ones that I don't know. The complicated arrangements where there aren't comforting words, melody or images for me to feel good about Christmas. I went to a Christmas Carol concert in Germany a couple of years ago after the Christmas market. I was really looking forward to it because choirs are a big thing in Germany and we were in a beautiful old church and their voices were amazing. As a concert of music, it was beautiful, but I was sad because there wasn't one carol in there that I'd ever heard of and they were all so ancient that I didn't even really hear the Christmas connection at all. My favourites on the other hand are We Three Kings, The Holly and the Ivy, Silent Night and Good King Wenceslas. 

Christmas books are always beautiful, do you have a favourite Christmas cover?

I love the cover of Twas the night before Christmas, with the big jolly Father Christmas coming down the chimney on it, which I had as a child. I have several versions of that book, and I have another one with a moody dark sky, with a sleigh and reindeer arching across the front and twinkling stars. I also love The Box of Delights Christmas Cover. The version I had as a child had a lovely big sparkling Edwardian style Christmas tree on it and I used to read that book on Christmas Eve every year. If you are talking adult books, Trisha Ashley's Christmas books have become a bit of a tradition for me to buy in recent years and read over the Christmas period when you want something nice and gentle and hopeful and warm to wrap around you as you're travelling between houses, families, countries friends etc. to fit in everyone over the festive period. I love curling up on Christmas afternoon with a good book too before the games start in the evening. 

I love that too! What’s special about writing a festive story? 

I loved evoking all the magic of Christmas that I feel. The preparation that can start months before, for example with foraging in preparation for Christmas, or thinking what to buy someone. It was interesting trying to think what the characters would buy each other this year as opposed to the year after a year of being together and it was almost harder than actually having to go out and buy presents for someone myself. 

And finally... The worst part of Christmas is… 

Tough question. There isn't really a worst part of Christmas for me. But I think now I'm older it's splitting your time between all the people you love. Especially when families live so far apart and you can't gather everyone in one place. It's also accepting other people's Christmas traditions might not be like your own families and trying to enjoy yourself regardless, even if you are denied the usual things you expect at Christmas, like say Turkey and all the trimmings or a big family walk in the park, or a constant stream of good wine to lubricate the day. This year will be the first time in my life that I won't be with my parents at Christmas and I'm a bit sad about that but we're going to have a “second Christmas” a few days later to make up for it with my brothers and their families and my parents.

Christmas Cravings by Emma Hamilton is published on 20th November, price £0.99 in eBook.

How could everything that seemed so right suddenly have gone so wrong for Mia? Snow is on the ground and Christmas lights twinkle in the German Christmas market. The warm, spiced wine is just right, but there's still one key ingredient missing from her romantic dream. Will Mia's Christmas turn out to be sugar and spice and all things nice - or a deflated soufflĂ© of loneliness and regret? 

-- Christmas Cravings is a festive romance standalone episode from the Greedily Yours series. 

-- About the series: Mia Maxwell loves food. She loves it so much that she's made it her career. She owns a food PR business that fills her days, and by night she's a food blogger with a burgeoning audience. With her 'Culinary Confessions of a Greedy Girl', Mia takes the reader on a delicious journey, searching for top dishes and the perfect man.

Get in on Amazon UK

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