Winter weather and the festive season are approaching and October is a busy month in publishing stories to suit the season. The Winter Wish is a story filled with winter magic and we were lucky to read an early copy and send some questions to author Helen Mortimer.
Helen, your story is enchanting and full of the winter magic we all crave as the festive season closes in. What made you want to write a Christmas/Winter story?
I love the idea of families sharing stories at Christmas and writing a wintry story allowed me to play my part in that.
This particular story started to form in my mind a few Christmases ago when my village encouraged people to sign up to create ‘winter windows’ in their houses. Twenty-four houses were selected to take part and a trail map was created so that the village became a sort of living advent calendar as each window was revealed from December 1st onwards. That idea stayed with me.
My walks around Blenheim Palace, which is close to where I live, gave me the idea of a reindeer called Bracken. There are often shy muntjac and roe deer grazing the bracken early in the morning and I knew I wanted to combine my reindeer character with a window in some way. A bookshop seemed the perfect place to do that, especially as the story is also about the power of words and the imagination.
What do you think will make The Winter Wish stand out amongst the festive books?
I hope that Rachael’s wonderful artwork and the stunning cover design created by the talented team at HarperCollins will make The Winter Wish stand out. I love the way it manages to look classic and contemporary all at once. I hope that bookshops might be inspired by the book to make their own festive window displays, too.
Words of Wonder is the perfect place for book lovers- is this your dream bookshop?
Rachael’s imagining of the bookshop seems perfect to me. It captures a welcoming, warm place where all those who enter are given comfort and time and somewhere to let their own curiosity lead the way.
The illustrations by Rachael Dean are so bold and colourful, are you thrilled with how they turned out?
I am absolutely thrilled. There is such warmth in them. The interiors, street scenes and landscapes have a kind of stage-set quality to them which I think is wonderfully festive. And the way she has paced the images with panels, vignettes, and sweeping double page spreads is quite filmic! I think you can hear the conversation between Dad and the customer when Rachael first takes us inside Words of Wonder. And she has created an authentic, sweet relationship between William and Rufford.
What is the over-arching message you want readers to take from reading The Winter Wish?
That we should all – young or old – believe in our own power to make a difference, that’s the inner magic we all possess.
What is your favourite part of winter/Christmas?
I love Christmas lights – and the way they transform dark houses and streets during the winter months. I also love bringing greenery indoors – and I always collect armfuls of holly and ivy to use as natural decoration.
What is your own winter wish for 2022?
I think my winter wish would be that 2023 brings hope for families everywhere.
The Winter Wish by Helen Mortimer and Rachael Dean is published by HarperCollins and available now.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation.