Best-selling author finds inspiration in Kettering for Christmas novel
A Sunday Times best-selling author from Kettering has said she takes inspiration both close and far from home for her Christmas novels.
Sue Moorcroft's fifteenth book, Let it Snow, is a romantic Christmas novel set in the fictional village of Middledip in Cambridgeshire with some additional action taking place in Switzerland.
Readers from Kettering might think some places in the story are familiar - and they would be right.
There is a description of a bar called the Juno Lounge, which opened for breakfast, afternoons and evenings and was in a former chapel with a "quirky, semi-industrial chic" that sounds rather like Kettering's own Kino Lounge.
Sue said: "Kino Lounge is one of my favourite places in Kettering."
Another detail from local life that made it into the book is a road closure, with one character affected by the closure of a road when a bridge was found to be "failing dangerously".
Sue said: "The closing of the road was the A6 round Desborough and Rothwell closing because of a bridge. I stole that."
Sue has set other novels in Middledip and said: "They're not series but it's a bit like Midsomer Murders without the murders, so you see other characters dip in.
"So quite a lot of my books are set or partly set in Middledip."
The protagonist, Lily, is a thirty-something who has returned to England after divorcing her Spanish husband.
Lily moves to Middledip to work in a pub in an attempt to trace her roots after learning she was not the result of the one-night stand her mum had always described, but her boss Isaac begins to catch her eye and she his.
While Let it Snow has a romantic element, there are some moments and twists that will catch the reader off-guard.
Sue said: "I definitely go for having some doses of reality. There's always some real, some gritty stuff in there.
"It's not a romance in the way that that's all there is to the book, but in all my books there is a romantic element.
"The relationship part is part of the story of those two people.
"I like to know my hero and heroine and I like to know their goals and conflicts and if I can make their goals and impact upon each other, then that's even better."
There is an impressive cast of characters in Let it Snow, all with developed backgrounds and their own story lines.
Some have appeared in other Middledip novels, like Carola, whose relationship woes have been explored previously and in Let it Snow she dabbles in online dating.
Because Sue's novels are standalone, you can read Let it Snow and follow Carola's story without having read any of the previous Middledip books.
Other characters that pop up again are Gabe and Tubb from the pub.
Then there are new characters, like Lily and her family and Isaac and his ex, Hayley.
There is also a new setting as although Sue likes to return to Middledip, she also likes to explore new settings and Let it Snow goes to Switzerland.
Sue has a friend who lives between Yorkshire and Switzerland. She said: "She said, if you want to set a book there, you can come. So I said, well I want to set a book there.
"My editor was all on board for it, so we drove across Europe."
The drive to Switzerland is featured in the story and Sue said she experienced everything that she included in the book: "I saw the procession, the Christmas markets, the Christmas tree, Zurich.
"I have a starting point, so I knew that it would go to Switzerland.
"If you have a location, you need to use it. If it could just as easily be set in Middledip, then there's no point sending it to Switzerland because the reader will go, why?"
Sue certainly uses the location and Switzerland plays an important role in Let it Snow as Lily traces her family roots and gets closer to Isaac.
The gorgeous winter backdrop of the Swiss Alps and the cosy village of Middledip provide the perfect setting for this warming Christmas read.
Let it Snow is available from Thursday, November 14 in paperback, digital and audiobook.