This is my interview with the lovely Katherine of Katherine's Book Universe blog. It was originally published here:
Where did the idea for the plot come from?
I didn’t originally set out to write a Christmas novel, but when I finished the edits on my previous novel, Finding Dreams, it happened to be Christmastime when I was thinking of new ideas. I was very swayed by all the lovely, snowy covers of other Christmas romances out there, and had a little brainstorm as to what I would write were I to do one. I seem to be on a trend that each one of my novels gets a little darker than the previous one, and the idea of writing something sweetness and light didn’t really appeal to me. I went back to the classic idea of A Christmas Carol, and reread that. It is a novel with a happy ending but it can’t be called a light, escapist read. There have been lots of different takes on that theme over the years, but I liked the idea of having a tough, female, Scrooge-like character and a love interest that acts almost like one of the ghosts, and helps her transform her life. That was the basic idea behind Moonlight on the Thames, and it evolved from there.
Who is your favourite character? Why?
Dmitri is my favourite character, and as soon as he and Nicola came into my head, I knew that I needed to explore and tell their story. I like Dmitri first of all because he’s a musician, and I have always wanted a character through which to be able to explore the agony and the ecstasy of the creative temperament. I also like the fact that he’s not a traditional ‘alpha male’ hero. He’s nice, and caring, and but he’s also sexy. He’s a hot, Russian pianist with a secret. What’s not to like?
Who is your least favourite character? Why?
Probably Ollie, Nicola’s married lover from her work. She’s with him for reasons that have very little to do with self-respect. He doesn’t have a great depth of feeling for anyone, including Nicola, or his wife, or his children. He may seem one-dimensional, but believe me, when I was working at a large London law firm, I knew plenty of men who, in reality, were just like him. Men who are not ‘cursed with self-awareness’ as women often are. I suppose, in Ollie’s defence, it’s quite easy to fall for someone from work who gets the stress and pressure you are under, and spend long hours with in the office. That doesn’t make it right, though.
Which is your favourite scene in the book? Why?
I have two favourite scenes. The first is when Nicola comes to the church and finds Dmitri playing piano for the first time. She is both disturbed and uplifted by the music, and the particular Rachmaninov piece he’s playing resonates with the darkness inside of her. Their encounter is both awkward and sexually charged, and Nicola really doesn’t know what to make of this strangely attractive man. I like the tension between them in this scene, that ends with Dmitri asking her out for a day of ‘penance’ in London.
My other favourite scene is the seduction scene, which again begins in the church. This time, Dmitri is playing Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. By this time in the book, we know much more about both characters and why they are the way they are. I hope that readers find the way it unfolds to be poignant and fitting with the circumstances that the characters are facing.
What do you most like to do when you are not writing?
I work as a lawyer and also have three kids, so I don’t have a lot of free time that’s not spent writing. I like to listen to music and audiobooks, and I like being out in the garden. I remember I used to have other hobbies like going to the theatre and art galleries and going out with friends, but these seem like a dim and distant memory these days.
What’s the story behind why and how you became an author?
I have always had ideas for stories and had characters rattling around in my head. I started writing them down about twelve years ago – during World Cup 2006. I was between jobs, and painting my front room and I had an idea for a novel that involved a decorator and an Argentine footballer. OK, that one never got published. But it started me taking evening courses and learning the craft of novel-writing. I wrote five full-length novels before getting published. My first women’s fiction novel Finding Home, took about six years to write and rewrite many times before finding a publisher.
My big break came when I wrote a children’s novel called ‘The Secret Cooking Club’ and won the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2015 (under my real name, Laurel Remington). I now write in two different genres under the two different names to prevent brand confusion. It’s been at times a difficult journey, but a fascinating one too, and hopefully it will continue on.
What is your favourite movie? Why?
Probably the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as I loved the books as a kid and it was always said that they were unfilmable. I think the Peter Jackson movies really captured the essence of the books and proved that it could be done.
Do you have a favourite book?
I have a lot of favourite contemporary books, though these days I mostly read for research. I’ve recently gone back and reread some books from my young adult years and rediscovered them. Books like Frenchman’s Creek and Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, both of which I really enjoyed.
Do you have any plans for another book?
I’m working on several new ideas and projects. While writing Moonlight on the Thames, I occasionally got frustrated over some of the limitations and tropes of the romance genre, such as the need to make things ‘escapist’. I find that I am increasingly drawn to exploring the darker elements of character and fiction, and therefore, I am currently working on something that is more of a detective thriller than a rom com. It’s still in the very early stages, however, so watch this space…
Goodreads: Lauren Westwood
About the book:
Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It’s a moment they’ll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson.
Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright. Nicola is a star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has run its course, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is the last straw… Dmitri loves conducting his pop–up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist. Can two lonely hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?
Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson