Thursday 2 July 2015

Festive Q&A with Gill Paul!

What sits on top of your Christmas tree?

An LED star that flashes in different colours. My partner is a lighting expert so Christmas involves laser shows, projections and loads of flashing lights.

Favourite Christmas song?

John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas, War Is Over”. At the beginning Yoko Ono whispers Happy Christmas to Kyoko, the daughter who was snatched by her father at the age of eight; Yoko didn’t see her again till she was thirty-five. John then says Happy Christmas to Julian, the neglected son of his first marriage. Very poignant!

Favourite Christmas movie?

Has to be “It’s A Wonderful Life”. You never get tired of watching it.

Favourite festive foodie treat?

Homemade cranberry sauce. Yum.

The best part of Christmas is…

Watching someone open a gift you’ve bought them that you know they are going to love.

The worst part of Christmas is…

Opening a present you hate while the giver is watching and having to act pleased!

Your best, and worst, Christmas present?

When I was five I went into hospital to have my tonsils out and was released on Christmas Eve, then the next morning Santa brought me a red plastic record player and some records of my own. I thought it was the most grown-up, exciting present ever. The worst? My Mum used to buy me huge dangly earrings like those Pat Butcher wore in EastEnders.

When do you do your Christmas shopping?

Mostly online, from October onwards, with a last-minute panic in mid-December.

Any Christmas Day traditions?

Bucks Fizz at breakfast-time while opening the pressies is essential, although last Christmas I substituted pomegranate fizz and that worked equally well. And there’s an odd tradition started by my dad of always wearing his Christmas cracker hat upside down, which we all now continue.

Favourite Christmas book?

The Little Match Girl was a childhood favourite. Even back then I liked a good weepie!

Favourite Christmassy book cover?

Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I just love his illustrations.

Book sat at the top of your Christmas in July wishlist?

I haven’t read Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guest yet and am really looking forward to it. I also want a good Vietnamese cookbook (any recommendations anyone?).

When did you find out Santa wasn’t real? Or is he real?

I was eight years old and had been pestering Mum for a while about why she and Dad never bought us Christmas presents. A friend’s big brother told me the truth, and I was utterly furious. “So basically you lied to me all these years,” I ranted to Mum. As you can tell, I was a right little madam.

How would you spend your ideal Christmas?

With a big disparate group of friends and family. My mum always invited anyone who didn’t have other plans for the day so we’d have foreign students who didn’t speak any English, widowed pals of my grandma, the windowcleaner, cousins we hardly knew, and Mum would feed everyone until they couldn’t walk while Dad kept their glasses topped up. Both Mum and Dad have passed away now but I try to maintain their spirit of Christmas hospitality.


Gill Paul’s new novel No Place for a Lady, published on 2nd July, is set during the Crimean War.

1854. Britain is fighting a gruesome war.

There has been no news of Lucy Gray since she eloped with handsome and impetuous Captain Charlie Harvington and embarked with him to the Crimea.

Dorothea Gray will risk anything to heal the rift with her little sister and bring her home safe. She determines to join Florence Nightingale and the other courageous women travelling to the battlefield hospitals as nurses.

She will not rest until she finds her sister.

Lucy, however, is on a very different journey, a journey through tragedy, trauma and true love.

But neither sister is prepared for the challenges they will face, the passion they will each taste and the simple fact that they might never see one another again …

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