I tried to remember how I first discovered Kiley Dunbar and I can't recall if it was thanks to Goodreads or Twitter. However it was, I came across her first book, One Summer's Night just before I took a family trip to England this past summer. The cover was adorable and the story sounded even more enchanting! (A young woman working as a tour guide in Stratford-Upon-Avon? Yes please!)
Over the past couple years, I've taken up reading cozy Christmas stories at this time of year. When I saw that Kiley had a new book, Christmas at Frozen Falls, I had to have it. I'm so glad I read this delightful book! I don't remember the last time a book made me feel so happy. It's just a feel good story with fun characters, a gorgeous setting, and a snowy adventure. It was everything I needed at this time of year and I can't wait to read everything else she writes! I loved the story so much that I had to reach out to Kiley and ask if I could interview her. Without further ado, I will tell you that I highly recommend her books and I hope you enjoy the interview.
SJ: I have never read a book set in Lapland and it was absolutely magical! To write such beautiful descriptions, you either did impeccable research, or you’ve been there. Can you tell us what drew you to set the book in Lapland and what inspired you to write those dazzling descriptions?
KD: Thanks so much! That’s kind of you to say so. I have always wanted to visit Lapland and in December 2018 I took my little family there to meet Father Christmas. The whole trip was magical and the kids loved the snow, the husky sled rides and the hot chocolates, and I was struck by the incredible sense of remoteness and extremity. Finnish Lapland is stunning. I really hope we can go back again one day, maybe in the summer this time.
SJ: It always interests me to know how a story idea first comes to an author. What got you started with Christmas at Frozen Falls?
KD: Ahh, let’s think… I knew I wanted to write a reunion story where a woman meets the guy she couldn’t forget about years after they broke up, and one day in 2017 when I was right in the middle of writing my first novel One Summer’s Night I just felt the need to open a new document and start writing Sylvie’s story! I found that narrative voice straight away and loved writing in the first person, and Sylvie really made me laugh. Within days I was on the phone to Santa’s Lapland travel company booking our trip to Saariselkä. I had three quarters of the book written and under contract by the time we went to Lapland 17 months later and I came home and rewrote the whole thing to really capture the feel of Lapland.
SJ: The scene at Frozen Falls was especially magical. Is it based on a real place or did you invent it for the story?
KD: Frozen Falls with Stellan’s resort, Niilo’s reindeer, and the beautiful remote waterfalls are completely made up! But the street scenes in Saariselka are based on the real place. There are lots of stunning resorts all over Lapland with glass ceiling snow domes, reindeer sled rides and Santas though. I don’t think you’d have to go very far to find a Frozen Falls of your own.
SJ: I was shivering just thinking about a post-sauna cold plunge. Would you, or have you, done such a thing? (Stellan’s observation about the experience made me suspect that you’ve actually done it!)
KD: Good lord, no! I can’t think of anything worse! But I know people who have and they are real advocates of the cold plunge. I do like a nice toasty sauna though!
SJ: Sylvie is a dog lover. Are there any special dogs in your life?
KD: Sylvie really, really loves Toivo the Husky pup, doesn’t she? Yes, I’ve always loved dogs and couldn’t live without a pup in the family. Amos is my little companion by the writing desk. He’s a three year old Bedlington terrier and very quiet and docile. He lives for cuddles.
SJ: I loved that Nari is a single travel blogger. Where would you love to travel in the new year?
KD: Nari is so cool, isn’t she? She’s fearless when it comes to travel, but a bit more timid when it comes to putting her heart on the line, as you see in Christmas at Frozen Falls! I used to have her wanderlust when I was in my late teens and twenties. When I met my husband in 1999 we took lots of exciting trips all over the world, but since we had the kids we’ve tended to stay in the UK for our vacations, but now I can feel the wanderlust returning and I’ve booked us a trip to the Veneto in the summer. I’d also love to travel more in Scandinavia, and I long to visit the Alhambra in Granada!
SJ: Although Christmas at Frozen Falls has a satisfying ending, there could be room for more with these characters. Do you think readers could see a sequel sometime in the future?
KD: I’d never say never! (Spoiler alert!) I like to imagine Sylvie, Stellan and Toivo splitting their time between Cheshire and Saariselkä and maybe seeing the world a little, joining Nari and Nillo on one of their travel adventures. Either way I just know they’re all happy and in love and keeping Christmas in their hearts all year round.
SJ: At the end of the book, you share how much you love Christmas romances. What are a few of your favorites?
KD: Now we’re talking! I adore all of Jenny Colgan’s Christmas novels. Her Christmas at the Cupcake Café is a classic! She’s so good at writing series with summer and Christmas novels set in the same locations. I recently devoured Jaimie Admans’s Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm (2019) and Tilly Tennant’s The Christmas Wish was great (and it’s also set in Lapland). And I love a Christmas movie too. Hallmark’s Christmas in Rome was really good this season.
SJ: There are a lot of personal and family traditions mentioned in the book. What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
KD: I always buy a new decoration for the tree every year, and I like to make sweet mincepies on Christmas Eve (for Santa, and me!), I always make a big pot of Scotch broth (using my granny’s recipe), and I like a proper bottle of nice Champagne with Christmas lunch. Otherwise, we’re all about a chilled out hygge Christmas snuggled up at home, minimal travelling, and minimum fuss.
SJ: I hadn’t heard of Hera Books before I discovered your books, but it looks like they publish all sorts of books I’d love! How did you end up finding your publisher?
KD: Hera are a new female fronted publisher (directed by industry legends Keshini Naidoo and Lindsay Mooney) committed to publishing a diverse range of page-turning popular and genre fiction. They launched in August 2018 and already have an amazing list with bestselling eBooks, paperbacks and audiobooks too. I spotted their launch announcement and sent them my manuscript that instant. I’m so proud to have been one of their launch authors and I thank my lucky stars every day that they liked my manuscript for One Summer’s Night and my ideas for Christmas at Frozen Falls.
SJ: Do you have a new book in the works that you can share anything about?
KD: This week I’m finishing the edits on my next book which is a summer romance set in the romantic (and eccentric) West Highlands of Scotland. And keep your eyes peeled for the wintry sequel to One Summer’s Night later in 2020!
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today, I’m really grateful to you for all of your support this year! Wishing you and all of your followers a Very Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much, Kiley!
Everyone, go do yourselves a favor and grab a copy of Christmas at Frozen Falls now! Think of it as your Christmas treat to yourself.