Ribbons and bows! I’m excited to interview fellow Storyteller Squad member, Laurie Germaine, about her newly released young adult Christmas novel, Tinsel in a Twist. It’s a thrilling sequel to Tinsel in a Tangle. Tinsel, a clumsy elf and reindeer whisperer, has embarked on a dangerous adventure to help her boyfriend, Santa’s grandson, sort out the mysterious happenings in two toy-making villages. I loved both books and highly recommend them as Christmas gifts.
Jill: I’d never heard of Krampus before reading your book. How did you find out about this frightening figure?
Laurie: I discovered him when researching for my first novel. It really is the weirdest tradition leading up to Feast of Saint Nicholas, one that had been banned in Europe for a while, in fact. As I think I state in my book, Krampus is making a comeback overseas and slowly making the rounds here in America.
Jill: Roasted chestnuts! You have a lot of fun Christmas exclamations in your book. How did you come up with all these?
Laurie: I first made a list of well-known Christmas icons and lines from beloved Christmas songs—snowman, drummer boy, candy canes, fruitcake, frost—and then I brainstormed all the ways I could make them into Christmas sayings. And I’d think of how to put a holiday twist on a tired cliché, like “piece of fruitcake,” or “pleased as rumberry punch,” or “for the love of [insert whatever Christmas noun you want—haha].”
Jill: You told me that this story was a lot longer at one point. I felt it flowed seamlessly. Where did you cut? Is there a possibility you might turn these out-takes into flash fiction for us readers who can’t get enough of Tinsel and Gina?
Laurie: Oh, my, from the first to final draft (at least three major rewrites and three further drafts focused on smoothing and tightening), the story changed a lot, and I cut about 60K words, from start to finish. Thus, many scenes I cut wouldn’t make sense anymore, even in a flash fiction. For example, originally, Gina was leaving Waldheim to join her brother in Terrebonne; and originally, Tinsel had escaped the manor to stay with a German family for a couple of days. Tinsel and Niklas were even supposed to visit Neuschwanstein Castle over the course of about two chapters, but in the end, those chapters got cut, save for some of the important dialogue.
That said, perhaps with some tweaking and rearranging, I might be able to create something extra and fun out of a few cut scenes. Hmmm…
Jill: Are any of your characters based on people you know? If so, which ones?
Laurie: Kristof’s broad shoulders and hockey skills are based on my hubby. 😉 My husband was a hockey player in college, and to this day I find him so attractive on a pair of skates. He makes skating look effortless and fluid, and he’s probably the most relaxed when on the ice. Aside from that, however, the other characters are a conglomeration of many people or entirely made up. Ex: I intentionally made Tinsel my opposite to push me out of my comfort zone when having to imagine situations from her POV.
Jill: How do you plan your settings? Have you ever been to Salzburg?
Laurie: For this sequel, I wanted to highlight new areas in Flitterndorf we hadn’t seen in the first book, like the Production Wing, the Prep Stables, and the Kringles’ apartment, so it was fun to go deeper into the “what if’s” and “why’s” of my imaginary Santa village. As for the settings in Germany, I had studied in Heidelberg for the first semester my senior year in college and wanted to introduce readers to some of the places and cultural aspects that made an impact on me—which is probably what made my first draft so long. Haha!
And Salzburg? Ah, Salzburg holds almost as special a place in my heart as Heidelberg. During the summer leading into my senior year, I worked with a missionary family in Austria, and on Mondays, my day off, I’d take the bus twenty minutes into Salzburg and just hang out there for several hours. I mostly stayed in the old part of the city, roaming the streets, visiting the fortress, wandering the Mirabellgarten, enjoying the farmers’ market… I have nothing but good memories from my time studying abroad.
Jill: There’s lots of German dialogue in Tinsel in a Twist. Do you speak German or any other languages besides English?
Laurie: So, yes, I used to speak German. 😉 That was my college major, with a minor in French. I was “supposed” to have married a European, move to either France or Germany, and raise my children bilingual, but God had other plans. While I can still understand German and French to a limited extent, married life and parenthood have a way of narrowing one’s passions and hobbies, and over time my affinity for languages took a backseat to other things.
Jill: You feature many doll-making scenes. How do you know so much about this art? I would never think of ironing yarn.
Laurie: Ha! I credit my mom for this one. She used to make porcelain dolls when we were young, so I remember a bit about the long process, but I never cared much about dolls myself, outside of playing Barbies with my sisters. And then, out of nowhere in 2008, my mom gave me a doll for Christmas, and oh my, for my quirky personality, it was the best doll ever, from Robert Tonner’s Ellowyne Wilde line. This doll captured my imagination, which grew into a collection and introduced me to the modern-day, doll-making world. It was first through Doll Magazine and later YouTube videos that I learned about face repaints and making doll wigs. I haven’t tried either one myself yet, though, because when it comes down to spending time either making a doll or writing about someone making a doll, I’ll choose the writing. 😉
Jill: What’s your favorite wintertime beverage?
Laurie: Where I live, we’re blessed to have an amazing local café called Scenic Brew. They make the most scrumptious white hot chocolate—we’re talking actual white chocolate. Add a shot of salted caramel, and for a few precious minutes, you have heaven in a mug.
Jill: Will there be a third book in the series?
Laurie: After devoting seven years to Christmas, I thought I would switch gears and work on fleshing out an idea for a high fantasy novel. But then, I recently had a snippet of an idea for, yes, a potential third book in the series (and Christmas is my happy place!), so we’ll see which direction God wants me to go.
Jill: How can readers learn more about you and your stories?
Laurie: They can find me on my author website, lauriegermaine.com, and sign up for my newsletters, and/or they can find me on scatteredwhimsy.com, my personal blog where I’m not only open and raw about personal struggles, but I post my knitting projects and doll-related crafts for my Ellowyne Wilde collection. I share writing-related articles and info on Facebook, @lauriegermaineauthor, and predominantly Christmas-related posts on both Instagram and Twitter, l.germaine.author and @scatteredwhimsy, respectively.
Jill: So, Laurie… let’s play a quick game to get to know you better. I’m going to ask you either/or questions, and I’d like you to pop out the answers. Here goes…
Coffee or Tea? Coffee, but mild and flavored
Introvert or extrovert? More and more introverted as time goes on. 😛
Summer or winter? Winter (no surprise there!)
Lakefront or oceanfront property? Lakefront
Mountain or city view? Mountain
Meat & potatoes, or veggies & tofu? Meat & potatoes
Paperback or ebook or audiobook? Paperback, although I’ve found a new appreciation for audio
Favorite color? Green
Favorite animal? Fox
Ideal vacation destination? Ireland. I’ve never been, but all the pictures (and movies) I’ve seen are drool-worthy. Plus, I like the accent. 😀
Ideal home décor? Think Frozen—old world charm with rosemaling accents. Sadly, reality demands something different.
Favorite hobby(ies)? Knitting, crafting, reading
Favorite movie? “Prince of Persia”
Favorite Saturday attire? Bootcut jeans and a turtleneck sweater
Favorite Christmas or birthday present to date? It’s a toss-up between the Ellowyne Wilde doll from my mom or the cordless drill from my hubby, haha!
Jill: Thanks, Laurie, for opening up about your writing. Readers, you’re welcome to ask Laurie questions in the Comments section below. I’ll ensure she answers them quickly. Sometimes she’s as slow as Christmas.