Today we have a Christmassy post, because the lovely Charlie Cochet agreed to do an interview about her Christmas themed series: The North Pole City Tales, which are my favorite books to read around the holidays. Although this year I listened to them as they are also available on audiobook now *happy dance*
Please give a warm welcome to Charlie Cochet!
Hiya Charlie and welcome back to BookWinked! Today we’ll be talking about your series North Pole City Tales of which a new addition was just released: Loving Blitz. Can you tell us how the series came to be?
– Hiya! Thank you so much for having me! Back in 2012 when I was still writing primarily historical, I wanted to write a story for the holidays. So naturally, the story started out as a historical. As I was writing Tim from Mending Noel, the story didn’t feel right. I started thinking about Christmas, the sights, sounds, scents, and flavours, and I started thinking about something sweet. I wanted the story to give readers warm fuzzy feelings. Like hot drinking hot cocoa in front of the fire under a cosy blanket while it snowed outside. I started re-writing until I had something sweet, almost innocent. One of the lovely folks at Dreamspinner loved it, and she asked me if it was going to be a series. I decided not only would it be a series, but my own little holiday tradition.
Where did the inspiration for the world of North Pole City Tales come from? There are all sorts of elements from Christmas legends, but there are also some elements that are uniquely fantasy.
– I wanted to take some of my favourite Christmas characters from childhood and give them a romantic, fun twist. Santa, his reindeers, Jack Frost. I thought how they might be part of this magical world. I wanted it to be sort of timeless. A mix of history, fantasy, and modern. The more I wrote about this world, the more it came together.
Mending Noel is the first book in the story. Noel is a bit of jerk when we first meet him. What makes him perfect for a Christmas story?
– North Pole City is a Christmas themed town. Everyone’s so cheerful and perky. The love what they do and they whistle jaunty tunes as they go about their duties. It’s all candy canes and magic. Among all this jolliness, I wanted flawed characters too, two elves who didn’t quite fit in the way the others did. Where Tim was tiny and sweet, Noel was big and growly with a big chip on his shoulder. Perfect for sweet Tim to capture his heart.
Rudy is a main character in the second book The Heart of Frost and it’s up to the captain of the Rein Dear Squadron to cure Jack Frost of his icy heart. The Rein Dear Squadron is central to the series. What makes the Rein Dear Squadron so important to Christmas and the North Pole City Tales?
– The Rein Dear Squadron are Mayor Kringle’s dashing flyboys, his pilots. In this world, Mayor Kringle hasn’t delivered presents for centuries. His once little workshop grew into a huge city that needed running. Plus he’s the Spirit of Christmas. He’s got a lot on his plate. So he handpicked these special Christmas elves to deliver presents around the globe. Without the Rein Dear, there’s no Christmas. They’re also the celebrities of North Pole City. Everyone loves them.
The world of the North Pole City Tales reminds me a bit of a historical world, with a king and different races – some of which are seen as inferior. Did you model the world of North Pole City Tales on anything?
– The world wasn’t modelled on anything in particular, but a mash-up of historical and fantasy with a modern twist. I had to break everything down. Since we have Christmas and winter, it was only natural we have these powerful elements. Kringle and Frost. I looked up quite a bit of mythology and when I thought of Jack Frost, I thought of him all grown up. No longer this impish sprite, but a powerful prince. And of course our prince would have a powerful father, the King of Frost. The Frost monarchy was born from that. For Winter Wonderland—ruled by the Frost monarchy, I looked up all these amazing old Russian palaces. Absolutely stunning. I couldn’t see Jack or the Rein Dear wearing jeans or suits. I saw them in frockcoats, and fashion similar to that worn in Europe in the 1700s. The Hussar uniforms I especially loved for the ceremonial uniforms and uniforms of the toy soldiers. Because of this historical tone, I felt it was necessary among the magical creatures to have a hierarchy as well.
Vixen and Vale are quite the opposites in Vixen’s Valor. Vale is quiet and serious and Vixen is a bit on the conceited and selfish side. How did they end up together?
– Although they’re both opposites, they both draw out good things in each other. Vixen brings out Vale’s more playful, naughty side, while Vale brings out Vixen’s softer, caring side. They’re both so used to being a certain way that they’re surprised and delighted when they discover these new parts of themselves thanks to the other’s love.
Loving Blitz is the newest addition to the series. Can you tell us a little about the story?
– In Loving Blitz, it’s Cupid and Blitzen’s turn to find love. The two Christmas elves are part of Mayor Kringle’s Rein Dear Squadron, and they’ve been best friends for centuries. On their adventures to find a very rare object, their friendship begins to change. There’s adventure, danger, humour, and romance. Secrets are revealed, and friendships are tested.
I haven’t read Loving Blitz yet, but from the blurb the story sounds more adventurous then the previous stories. Is the focus more on adventure in this installment?
– There’s still plenty of sweetness and romance, but yes, this one is an adventure. Where the Heart of Frost was more of a mystery, and Vixen’s Valor has a bit of espionage, Loving Blitz is more of an adventure as the two set off on a quest with no idea the danger they’re in.
What was the hardest book to write in this series and why?
– Probably The Heart of Frost because unlike the other pairings, Jack and Rudy have been in a relationship for centuries. They’re already together. It was really tough deciding where to start their story since we never got to see them come together, though who knows, one year that might be our North Pole City Tales story. Their story was the toughest because there was all this history we haven’t seen, but I needed readers to still be invested in them and their romance.
Time for a different question. Tell us about your best Christmas memory?
– That’s a tough one. I have a lot of fond Christmas memories, but I would have to say most of the ones when I was a kid. You know, when you still believed in Santa. My brother and I would put cookies and milk out for Santa and then barely sleep. We’d wake up the next morning and the milk and cookies would be gone. Then we’d find all our presents under the tree. It was the most exciting time to be a kid.
Will there be more stories in the North Pole City Tales series?
– Absolutely! To be honest, I haven’t decided when to end the series yet. I was thinking after book six, but you never know. I have so much fun writing these and every time I think there can’t be any more, a new plot bunny pops up. In Loving Blitz I’ve hinted at the next two books.
What will you tell readers to convince them to read the North Pole City Tales?
– If you like the sound of naughty and nice, sweet Christmas elf goodness, adventure, mystery, romance, a good dollop of elves festively swearing, and a grumpy prince who’ll freeze your baubles off if you look at him funny, then you might just enjoy this series.
Thank you coming to the blog, Charlie!
Keep tuned! The review for Loving Blitz will follow later this week!