We all know I love a festive romance and this year I’ve been really keeping an eye out for Aussie Christmas stories. A few weeks ago I reviewed Katie Montinaro’s A Holly Jolly Christmas, and today I have the pleasure of welcoming Katie to my blog for a chat about writing and books and Christmas. I hope you enjoy reading our Q&A below!
Hi Katie! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today! I loved reading your festive romance book, A Holly Jolly Christmas. Can you tell us a little bit about the story and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! A Holly Jolly Christmas follows Ms Holly Jolly as she tries to put on the picture perfect Christmas with a bunch of hilarious mishaps along the way, threatening it all. It’s really about appreciating the festive season and time with loved ones, over trying to create the perfect vibe for your social media pages. The book is set in Australia because last Christmas I was looking for a Christmas read that wasn’t the typical white Christmas and I couldn’t find one. I wanted to read a fun Christmas rom-com that mirrored my own Christmas experience and so when I couldn’t find one, I wrote one.
One of the things I really appreciated about A Holly Jolly Christmas was the way it has such an Aussie vibe without feeling cliched. How important was it to you to have that Australian feeling, and was it something that was tricky to capture in your characters, or just the way they came to you?
I think it’s really important to have Australian stories, of all shapes and forms, out there. So much of what we see and read is Americanised and whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, there are other experiences and stories to tell. I think the authenticity comes from being Australian. I imagine if I were to write a story from the perspective of someone who lived in another country, I couldn’t help but make it cliched because I wouldn’t know any better. There is only so much reading and research you can do, nothing really compares to lived experience. I’ve never really thought about how to capture what it is to be Australian in my characters, they kind of just come to me as they come. I think it circles back to that idea of writing what you know, writing from experience and writing from a place of authenticity.
Without giving any spoilers, we see three quite different ways of celebrating Christmas in A Holly Jolly Christmas – the social media picture perfect celebration, the busy fun anything-goes big family Christmas, and a quiet one or two people spending time together. Do you have a favourite way to celebrate Christmas, and which characters in the book would you most like to join on the big day?
Oh I would definitely be inviting Holly and Shawn to my Christmas! Or maybe I’ll just crash the Reid family Christmas! Especially if it’s hot because they have a pool. Our Christmas is very laid back and small, just the way I like it. Don’t get me wrong, my house looks like it has been hit with the Christmas stick, but we keep things really low key. We stay home on the day. Growing up as an only child, I would travel between houses and it was always so tiring and all I wanted to do was to play with my new toys, so when we had our own family, we just said we would stay home. We also have a small immediate family so we will catch up with my in-laws the weekend before and then my parents come over on Christmas day. It works for us and our kids, and it’s such a chilled, relaxed and enjoyable day. We also have traditions either side of Christmas which I quite like. On Christmas Eve, we always open one present, usually a family box with new pjs, snacks and a DVD, and we’ll sit down and watch a Christmas movie together. Then on Boxing Day, we go to the movies as a family.
Do you like to read seasonal books and do you have a favourite Christmas or summer book or story?
I do love to read Christmas books in December. This year I have really enjoyed reading Later On We’ll Conspire by Kortney Keisel. It’s interesting, other than Christmas books in December I’m not really a seasonal reader however, both my own books (The Girl in the Sunflower Dress and A Holly Jolly Christmas) are set in the Christmas and New Years time period so maybe I am a seasonal writer because the majority of the manuscripts for those books were written over the summer break!
Is there a particular book you’d love to find under your Christmas tree this year?
Anything I haven’t already got by Elle Kennedy. I’ve only just discovered her books this year and am devouring them. Also Tessa Bailey is another favourite author of mine, so anything of hers is most definitely welcomed under the tree. I’ll also accept gift vouchers for my favourite bookstores!
Do you have a favourite book (or books!) you’ve read this year that you’ll be recommending (or giving as a Christmas present!) to everyone you know?
It is impossible to keep my response to this question short, but I shall do my best:
The Deal by Elle Kennedy (this whole series is amazing and spicy!)
The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth
Finally, are you working on something new and can you tell us anything about it?
I am and I can’t share too much. Not because I’m being super secretive, but because every time I tell someone about what I’m writing, it’s like my brain suddenly freezes and I cannot write that book anymore! lol! I will say I am working on a series and I am super excited about it. I hope I can share more details of it early in 2023. I have so many ideas and so many stories I want to tell and I just can’t wait to share them with you all.
Thanks so much for your time!
I’m so grateful to Katie for taking the time to chat with me! I really loved reading A Holly Jolly Christmas and recommend picking it up if you’re looking to unwind with a sweet Aussie romance story this week! You can keep up with Katie on her Instagram account.
About the author
Katie Montinaro is an Aussie author of young adult and new adult fiction. Her debut novel, The Girl in the Sunflower Dress, was published in 2021, and her latest book is a fun festive romance, A Holly Jolly Christmas.
The Girl in the Sunflower Dress
This summer, everything changes…
Chelsea Roberts is living the dream post high school; no commitments, no stress and nothing to do. Simple times. But life has a funny way of turning your world upside down when you least expect it.
A chance encounter with her old high school crush, Noah Kalani, leads Chelsea to uncover her father’s secret affair. The discovery leaves Chelsea unsure about her place in the world and in her own family. With Noah by her side, Chelsea is convinced a carefully laid New Year’s Eve plan can protect her family and make her world right again. Only, this plan will be the beginning of Chelsea unearthing more secrets than she ever imagined.
A Holly Jolly Christmas
Holly has one thing and one thing only to prove to her family – that she is a capable and organised adult, who can host the perfect Christmas day. The only problem is, Holly is neither of those two things. Disaster seems to follow Holly wherever she goes and this time, it’s in the shape of The Christmas Ruiner; a smug stranger who appears at the worst of times, taking the last of everything Holly needs to impress her family. Cue her best-friend Shawn; knight in shing amour and all-round Good Guy. Even though he’s made it perfectly clear that they are just friends, the lines between friends and something more are becoming blurred. The more time they spend together, the more Holly can’t ignore her feelings. Can Holly pull off the impossible to put on the perfect Christmas, and capture the heart of the man of her dreams?