Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?
Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.
Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?
A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.
Thank you for your interesting questions – I’ve had to think really hard about a couple of these, and it’s even given me an idea for a future project!
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in my library, with the views over my extensive grounds, and the housekeeper bringing me hot chocolate whenever I desire … Oh, wait a minute, that’s not me, that’s Belle from Beauty and the Beast … My writing habits are slightly more ordinary. I have a little desk tucked away in the corner, and I write while the children are at school and the house is quiet.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I have no ritual as such, but as I have a view out over the street outside from my desk I’m constantly gazing out of the window searching for inspiration. There’s a large tree just outside my house, which is often visited by birds, and at the moment the autumn colours are breath-taking. And there are plenty of dog-walkers (and their dogs) to keep me entertained!
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Tea. Lots of tea. Tea has to be drunk from a china mug, and sometimes as a special treat I have Earl Grey tea, which I am convinced is an incredibly sophisticated drink. However, if I’m engrossed in what I’m writing, often I find the tea has gone cold by the time I get round to drinking it!
– What is your favourite book?
There are so many, it changes from week to week. At the moment I find that I’m drawn back to Anne of Green Gables which was a childhood favourite, as it’s a warm and comforting place to be right now. As an adult, I admire how Anne was feted for her academic ability in an era where many women were expected to be merely decorative.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’ve already changed genre slightly. I’ve written longer women’s fiction under a different name, and I don’t rule out yet another genre change and a third personality at some point in the future. I’d quite like to write historical fiction, or fantasy with a fairy-tale twist. Or if Disney want someone to write a script for their next Princess film, I’d give it a go. I think a new take on the life of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella would be fun to write.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I try to avoid basing characters entirely on real people in case they recognise themselves, but I have to admit that elements of real people creep in. In Mistletoe and the Mouse there are things about the character of Mrs. Buchan (her stoicism in the face of tragedy) that remind me of my own mother, but in other ways she and my mother are totally different. Of course, the one person who is present in everything I write is me – all my heroines have elements of myself in them. With Belle, it’s her enthusiasm for all things festive, glittery and Disney-related.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I used to! However now I’m working largely from home and don’t go out much, I don’t really need to. I now have BIG notebooks (typically with sparkly covers) that sit on the desk beside me with all my notes in, so I run to the notebook if I think of something, rather than taking it everywhere. I also have a stash of notebooks ready for future projects, though some of them are far too pretty to use, and I just take them out of the drawer and stroke the paper occasionally. That makes me sound a bit odd, doesn’t it?
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m not personally a big fan of crime fiction, although I can see why many people are, as I can appreciate the puzzle solving element. Personally, I’m not good with blood (in reality or fiction!) so I tend to avoid anything that might involve reading about it. I’m also not very good at solving the mysteries, and then get cross with myself when I get it wrong! I did read my first Agatha Christie earlier this year, though, and it was much more enjoyable than I expected (and not too much blood, though quite a lot of poisoning).
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That’s a difficult one; there are so many amazing writers out there … Honestly, I think I’d have to go for someone who is long dead, so that we wouldn’t argue! I’d quite like to take on Anne of Green Gables right now, so maybe I’ll say L.M. Montgomery – I wonder if she left behind any unfinished Anne stories?
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’d head straight to Walt Disney World in Florida, as I’m working on the two sequels to Mistletoe and the Mouse and one of them is set in Walt Disney World. I went a couple of years ago, and there was so much that I didn’t have time to do and see, and I love the total immersion in the Disney bubble. That’s what I’m trying to recreate in my novellas, that total sense of escapism that I found at Disneyland, I think it’s vital to have somewhere lovely to escape to right now, even if it is only in my imagination.
Thank you, Elsa Simonetti and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Elsa Simonetti was born in the same year as Walt Disney World, but many miles away in the north of England. Her earliest Disney memory is crying during Bambi at the Saturday morning cinema club! It wasn’t until her own children were small that her husband introduced her to the magic of Disneyland Paris, and since then she has become obsessed, proving Walt Disney’s own belief that “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever”. That was the seed of this story – that Disneyland is not just for children, but for anyone who is young at heart.
Elsa also writes romantic women’s fiction under the name of Liz Taylorson
Theme Park Press website: http://themeparkpress.com/