Lisa Dickenson was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyoncé. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She’s now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who’ll visit. She is sadly still not Beyoncé.
Throughout November & December ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ will be published, please could you tell me about it?
I’d love to! The Twelve Dates of Christmas is a novel split into six, festive chunks. Each week on the run up to Christmas you can reveal the next two dates of the story, like a bookish advent calendar.
‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ is about Claudia, please could you tell me a bit about her?
Claudia is lovely, please be her friend. She’s a girl who is all too aware of the rut her life is in. She’s beginning to bore of brushing excitement under the carpet, and with the magic and romance and sparkles of Christmas all around her, her eyes begin to open to new possibilities.
Are any of the characters in ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ anything like you?
Oh yes, Claudia has a rather annoying trait she stole from me (well, that I forced upon her) which is that she tends to procrastinate like hell when she has to make a decision about something. She’ll put it off and put it off and find anything else to think about! She’s also not great at confrontation, but she works on it 😉
If ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ was to be made into a film, who would your ideal cast be?
That’s so hard because I don’t picture any celebrities in particular when I’m writing, and I want people to imagine the characters how they would like to imagine them. I don’t go into too much detail in the novel about looks because I want everyone to be able to, for example, fancy the leading man whatever their type. HOWEVER, I’d be very interested to hear who other people would cast after reading!
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
Ooo, good question! Maybe I’d hang out with Billy, because he’s very easy to chat to and I love talking travel. But then I love Nick’s sense of humour… I think I’d have to pick Claudia, ask her to teach me some dance moves, show me her amazing bedazzled undies (!) and then we’d have a big chat over a gingerbread latté about her life, and whether she’s happy with the way I tinkered with it.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Yes! It’s called ‘The Twelve Dates of the Zombie Apocalypse’ and Claudia goes on a flesh-eating spree – no, sorry, now I think about it I remember Little Brown turned that one down… Luckily I have another idea, where a lovely leading lady looks at her life in England and says on a whim, ‘bugger this for a laugh’ and jets off to spend the summer in the USA after winning a competition.
Was there any book you read as a child that convinced you that you wanted to become a writer? If so, which one was it?
I seem to bang on about Sweet Valley and The Babysitters Club like, all the time, but they really did convince me to be a writer! I devoured them (not literally) and constantly wrote awful versions of them which basically consisted of me describing in great detail what everyone was wearing and then getting bored and moving on.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life, what would it be?
EPIC FAIL… just kidding! It would be by the Queen of all things ever, Beyoncé: Who run the world? Girls.
What or who in life inspires you?
Travelling the world! See my ‘Inspiration Month’ piece for more info…
So I’ve a friend who like Claudia will be single this Christmas but unfortunately she doesn’t have any dates (let alone twelve) to look forward to, what advice would you or Claudia give to me, um I mean her?
I think Claudia would tell you – I mean your friend – that going on dates can inject some sparkle and new adventure in your life, you visit new places and try new things, but there’s no reason – actually – you shouldn’t find all these new adventures by yourself. You don’t need to wait for someone to ask you. Go ice skating, treat yourself to festive coffees, jump on that big wheel. And who said dates have to be with a love interest? Grab your bestie and do some activities you wouldn’t normally do, and if you feel like snogging them at the end of the date, well, if you were my bestie that would be fine too.
Claudia has twelve dates in the run up to Christmas, will you share with us your best or worst date?
My best date has to be the last day of my boyfriend and I’s year of jaunting around the world. We were in New York, it was a week before Christmas, and we went ice skating at Rockefeller, had a yummy meal, then went for cocktails in the rooftop bar of our hotel (the GORGEOUS Library Hotel, which – side note – is perfect for bookworms!). We were the only ones out on the terrace under the fairy lights and heaters, as it was absolutely freezing, and Phil had already chugged down his entire cocktail before I’d barely taken a sip. Then he said some lovely things, got down on one knee, and whipped out a bloody TIFFANY RING. (I said yes, and he’s now my husband).
Describe your perfect Christmas:
Masses of tradition, Christmas music in the background all day, family all around, It’s a Wonderful Life on TV in the afternoon, everybody loving all their presents and someone buying me front row tickets to a Beyoncé concert. Oh, and Twelve Dates being top of the charts!
Please would you share who your 5 dream Christmas party guests would be?
Beyoncé (I’m so predictable, and a bit of a stalker), Lady Gaga (because she’s probably come as a Christmas tree or something and it would make great photos), Derren Brown (because he’s absolutely LOVELY and incredibly interesting, and if I could convince him to do a trick or two it would make the party even better), Jack Sparrow (yes, the character; Johnny Depp would be cool, but Jack would be a blast at a party), my friend Katie (because she’s completely obsessed with celebrity-spotting, like me, so she’d love this party and we would go on and on and on and on about it to each other for months years afterwards).
At your dinner party, there’s a cocktail in honour of ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ what are the ingredients?
These are such awesome questions! Right. Firstly I should warn you then when I go off-piste and try and make my own recipes things tend to be a bit… crap. For instance, Claudia makes a cocktail in Twelve Dates that she invents involving wine and Baileys. That was actually my invention. It’s HORRIBLE. So I accept no liability if anyone attempts this cocktail and pukes until New Year. Okay, so firstly lets have some Baileys because it IS Christmas. How about a slug of something orangey. Cointreu? Because Claudia loves the scent. And some chocolate milk. Finally let’s decorate the rim with salt so it looks like snow but the whole thing has a chocolate-orange salted caramel taste. Good luck people.
Thank you so much Lisa for talking to The Love of a Good Book, I loved your answers and will pass the advice on to my friend