Interview with Meredith Allard, Author of Christmas at Hembry Castle
08 Dec 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Christmas at Hembry Castle?
Christmas at Hembry Castle was written as an homage to A Christmas Carol. It takes place in England in 1871. It was inspired by my love for both Charles Dickens and the TV series Downton Abbey. It has upstairs/downstairs storylines, and there is even a meddling ghost for good measure. It’s a lighthearted, festive celebration of a Victorian Christmas.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember—since elementary school, certainly. I was lucky because my teachers frequently told me I was a good writer, so I grew up thinking I was a good writer. At first I thought I’d become a journalist, then I thought I’d become a screenwriter, but I realized that with my interests and skills I was best suited to writing novels. Reading Charles Dickens in college helped me see what kind of novelist I wanted to be—I wanted to write stories that were entire worlds the way Dickens did.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (no great surprise, there)
3. Leaves of Grass, a collection of poetry by Walt Whitman
4. Beloved by Toni Morrison
5. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of my literary idols. I interviewed John Jakes almost twenty years ago, and I’ve also interviewed Jean M. Auel. They were both lovely enough to answer my questions about their writing and researching processes. My favorite response came from John Jakes when I asked him what his next writing project was. He said he had too many ideas for too many books and he’d never live long enough to write all the stories he wanted to. I remember that answer all these years later because I realize how true that is. I also have so many stories I want to write, and I also doubt I’ll get to write them all.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I love that I can take these crazy ideas in my head and share them with others. I love that creative writing is about creating new worlds. One of my favorite parts about being an author is hearing from fans all over the world. Thank the literary gods, but many of my books have found a devoted audience all over the world. Connecting with people who have read and loved my books is really a treasure I cannot describe.
What is a typical day like for you?
I’m a teacher, a job I love, so I start my day teaching. After school, I work on my own writing. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, so my days can get pretty busy. At night I love to read, and I’ll read whatever I can get my hands on.
What scene in Christmas at Hembry Castle was your favorite to write?
That’s actually a tough question to answer because I had so much fun writing this book. I found writing Christmas at Hembry Castle a great escape from the craziness of 2020. If I had to choose one scene that I particularly enjoyed writing, it’s the last scene in the book where Lord Staton and his family enjoy a fun, festive Christmas day celebration. Yes, there is a happy ending, in the tradition of A Christmas Carol and other favorite Christmas stories.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I love that quote from Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I’ve found that to be true in my own life. You just have to be brave enough to let your imagination soar.
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