I can’t believe we’re only days away from Christmas! I have a few more Christmassy Q&As to share – tonight I’m chatting with lovely #LoveOzYA author Tara Eglington.
I loved your latest novel The Long Distance Playlist, which was released just before Christmas last year. Can you please tell us a little bit about the book, and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! All the memories are coming back as we get closer to Christmas! It was such a thrill to release the book late last year, in the midst of the festive season.
The Long Distance Playlist is a modern epistolary (a story told via letters/other forms of written communication) YA romance.
THE LONG DISTANCE PLAYLIST has an extra-special place in my heart for a number of reasons. The initial spark of inspiration for this book began when I was fifteen years old.
You see, twenty years ago, there was a boy from the other side of the world, who sent me letters and emails across a four-year period. This boy made my teenage years a little bit brighter, and better. He was the first boy to call me beautiful, to make me jewellery, to read my short stories and songs, and to MSN Messenger chat (2000 much?) with me for hours about my hopes, dreams and fears. What started out as pen-pals – a boy from a land of frozen lakes and snowy skies, and a girl, from the beaches of Byron Bay – became something much more, as we navigated our way through a myriad of experiences in our late teen years. And so, the genesis for THE LONG DISTANCE PLAYLIST, and the crux of this story’s heart – two people, kilometres apart, but closer than anything – began with those letters.
Through my protagonists, Issy and Taylor, I wanted to explore how some of the closest connections in our lives, can take place across vast distances. How the way in which we bond with each other online, via social platforms, DM, text, Skype, and shared playlists, can feel just as real, meaningful, and poignant as any in-person interaction or catch-up.
Issy and Taylor are each going through some tough stuff in this novel. Taylor’s a former pro-snowboarder, fifteen months out from a life-changing accident. Issy’s just had her heart broken and is struggling to stay focused on her goal – a place at the prestigious National Ballet School – which is slipping further and further out of her reach. Even though Taylor is in Queenstown, New Zealand, and Isolde is in Sydney, Australia, through their emails, and playlists, skype sessions, and cross-country calls, we see how they start to lean on each other for support, and how the distance between them, starts to feel not so distant after all….
One of the fun things about the way you told Taylor and Isolde’s story was the playlists that popped up throughout the book and helped to set/reflect the mood. Which songs would you put on your Ultimate Festive Fun Christmas Party Playlist?
Thank you! There’s nothing more fun than having a themed soundtrack for any mood/ occasion.
Back when we were young, my sister and I always asked for CD’s from Father Christmas (90’s to the max!) so I remember listening to hours and hours of tracks from The Spice Girls, The Corrs, Backstreet Boys and Hanson! I feel like I’d go old-school and have a 90’s throwback session and dig out any Christmas-themed tracks from that era (Home for Christmas, *NSYNC, Christmas (Please Come Home) Mariah Carey etc!).
Do you like to read seasonal books, and do you have a favourite Christmas story or book? (This could be something contemporary or a classic, or something from your childhood)
It’s not strictly a Christmas story, but because the first chapter of Little Women opens with a Christmas scene, and finishes with one too, I’ve always loved re-reading the novel at this time of year. I also LOVE watching the 1995 film version, with Winona Ryder and Christian Bale – it is so visually beautiful.
Is there a particular book you’d love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
I would love a copy of Breathless by Jennifer Niven, To Asia with Love (Hetty McKinnon) or Troubles in Paradise (Elin Hilderbrand). Elin Hilderbrand writes the ultimate beach reads.
Do you have a favourite book you’ve read this year then you’ll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
Non-Fiction: I LOVE to cook, and one of my absolute favourite recipe books is Community by Hetty McKinnon. I always get questions from friends and family about the salads I make – as they are healthy, hearty, and most importantly – delicious – so this salad bible is a perfect gift.
Fiction: 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand – one of my top fiction books this year – I was thinking about this story for days after I read the final page.
YA: Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu – #LoveOzYA at its best.
Can you share a favourite Christmas tradition or memory, or recipe?
Favourite memory – I grew up three minutes’ walk from the beach – so I have so many recollections of mangoes for breakfast, and then early mornings spent by the ocean, trying out new Christmas presents – boogie boards, bucket and spades, snazzy new beach umbrellas.
We always had a real Christmas tree – so the smell of pine is still pure magic! Christmas trees are probably my favourite part of the festive season – I love sitting on the couch with a drink, just watching the lights twinkle at night.
Favourite recipe: Every year, I make this yummy (and very festive looking!) salad, which is always a hit:
Thanks so much for your time!
Massive thanks to Tara for taking the time to chat Christmas with me!
Author Bio – Tara Eglington
Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, Australia, and now lives in Sydney.
Tara is the author of four Young Adult novels: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You (titled Kissing Games in the USA), My Best Friend is a Goddess and The Long Distance Playlist. Her books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the USA. Tara’s hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and daydreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in the film adaption of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You.
You can find Tara online at https://taraeglington.com/
Facebook: Tara Eglington
The Long Distance Playlist on Goodreads