An Interview with Jeannine Colette
At the heart of A Winter Wonderland is a magical fruit cake! Where did the idea for this premise come to be?
It's a little wacky, right? I can't claim it as solely my own. The magical fruit cake and the 12 Nights of Christmas anthology where it originally appeared were born at the Romantic Times conference in Atlanta. It's what happens when you put a group of authors in a hotel room with a couple bottles of wine! We came up with all sorts of ideas that night, some of which made it into the anthology, and some...were better left in that room. But anthologies have strict word counts, so once the holiday season ended, I knew wanted to turn Jace and Selena's story into a novella.
This is a second chance love story. Where did these once high school lovers go wrong?
One of my favorite parts of this story was the writing glimpses of Jace and Selena's high school relationship. They were so in love!! Part of their struggle was the deep family obligations that pulled them in different directions, but that itself wasn't enough to break them up. The full story of their break-up is revealed throughout the book, but here's a hint: As he watched their end coming closer, Jace grew more and more desperate, and he made an OTT in-love--but selfish--grand gesture...and it failed. To me, Jace's decision and Selena's reaction capture why they weren't truly ready for each other...yet. :)
Selena is a divorcee, which happens to be a favorite heroine characteristic of mine. What kind of dimension does Selena's past bring to this love story?
Selena has lived a full life before the start of this story, a life that she and, importantly, her parents had dreamed of. Except...it wasn't quite the dream she had hoped for. I think that the divorce, her wariness, but also her I'm-doing-my-own-thing confidence give her the maturity that she needs to see Jace and her past in a new light.
Jace is the smoldering mechanic who still harbors a flame for Selena. Who was your inspiration for this masculine hero?
This probably puts me in the minority, but I never imagine real-life men as my heroes. Generally, when I write a book, the characters and some of their key conversations come first--a complicated relationship, basically. I LOVE books with blue-collar heroes (hello, Tessa Bailey!), but I generally write men who have left their more humble beginnings behind by the time the story starts. I didn't want that for Jace. In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to write a man who didn't come with the promise of wealth--just true love and devotion.
I read in your acknowledgments there may be another fruit cake story coming. Can you confirm that?
I soooo want to write Jace's brother's story--the epilogue gives a peek at how he gets the fruitcake, too!! But I have a book for the Harlequin Dare line coming out next December, so Drake's story might have to wait for 2021.
What is your favorite holiday movie?
Elf. I probably should think of a more romantic answer, but Will Ferrell is just hilarious.
For readers who read and love A Winter Wonderland, which of your books do you recommend next?
Towards the beginning of A Winter Wonderland, we meet Selena's biographer friend Melanie, and she has a book, Stockholm Diaries, Melanie. Mel's story takes place on a tiny island in the Stockholm archipelago--far away from Upstate New York--but you'll find some of the same themes about the ways family shapes our lives and love in that book, as well as the same mix of humor and emotion.