Words Collide talks to Josie Silver about the inspiration behind her charming and emotional book One Day in December, love at first sight and her favourite books.
What inspired One Day in December?
I love classic Christmas movies like Love Actually, Bridget Jones and The Holiday. My aim with One Day in December was to try to write a book with a similar vibe, something that made readers feel the way I do when I sit down and watch those beloved films; swept away into another world for a while.
Laurie and Jack are believable characters. How did you write such a real love story?
It was very much my aim to make all of the characters in the book completely relatable and true to life. There are no heroes or villains, just a bunch of people trying to do their best and sometimes getting it disastrously wrong. They are essentially decent people, but like everyone in life sometimes they say the wrong thing or act in a less than admirable way.
If Laurie could go back to any moment in time where would she go?
At the very beginning of the book, we meet Laurie on a packed bus on the way home from work, and her eyes meet with a guy at the bus stop and she falls instantly in love. That moment is pivotal in her life because the next time she meets him is when he’s presented as the new love of her best friend’s life. It gives her all kinds of problems, and I honestly think that if she could, she’d go back to that day and miss that bus altogether.
I’m absolutely sure that under any other circumstances she wouldn’t have allowed herself to fall in love with Sarah’s boyfriend- she’s far too loyal to her best friend for that. So, missing the bus would save them all a whole load of heartache.
Laurie’s not a love at first sight kind of girl. How did Laurie know that seeing Jack was love at first sight?
I think everyone is a love at first sight kind of person in the right circumstances! I know what you mean though – Laurie is generally quite a cautious, careful kind of character so it’s a huge thing for her and it takes her completely by surprise. It’s not something she’s ever imagined or looked for. It’s a bolt out of the blue.
How would you define love at first sight?
Love at first sight has always fascinated me; it’s such a romantic idea. I’ve read enough accounts of it happening to people in real life to know it exists, but as to what exactly it is… well, that’s debatable. In the book, Laurie describes it as a thunderbolt, a sudden shock of emotion and feeling for this man who at the time was a complete stranger. I certainly think that it’s possible to at least feel an instant connection to someone, and if you’re lucky enough to experience it then it’s worth further investigation. Better to know than to always wonder what might have happened!
Sarah and Laurie have a strong bond and they are forgiving. How would Sarah describe Laurie and why?
I think she’d describe Laurie as the person she’d like to be when she grows up! Sarah and Laurie are different in lots of ways; Sarah’s gregarious and ambitious, where Laurie tends to keep her own counsel and is naturally more reserved around people she doesn’t know so well. They share many traits too though; they make each other laugh and have a deep, unshakable loyalty to each other. If Sarah was asked to describe Laurie, she’d say she’s too soft for her own good, as kind as they come, and a terrific friend.
If Jack could say one thing to his younger self what would it be?
Get on the damn bus! Aside from the obvious, I think he’d tell himself to be more honest with himself about what he wants. He tries hard to please others to the detriment of his own happiness, and it doesn’t work out well for any of them. He’s a people pleaser by nature though, it’s just his way.
Jack has a tough time in novel and experiences low moments. What encouraged you to write about Jack’s mental health and what steps did you take to write it in an authentic way?
Of all the characters in the book, it’s fair to say that Jack really does have the toughest ride. It felt really important not to sugarcoat his behaviour during his darkest moments; it comes back to wanting to make the characters absolutely relatable. I’m pretty careful when I include issues like Jack’s in a story; it’s important that people who’ve been through something similar find it true to life. I researched quite deeply for Jack’s storyline, and I have someone in my own life who has been through similarly difficult times whose experience I was able to draw on.
This novel is great at showing that life is a journey full of transitions. Laurie and Sarah go from being students to working adults. Why do you think going through transitions, enduring even in hard times and celebrating the good moments is important?
Because that’s what real life is – learning to take the good with the bad, and hopefully maturing into a stronger person because of the lessons life throws our way. In the book, we see the characters literally grow up on the page across their twenties and thirties; defining years for most people in terms of love and family and these guys are no exception. Writing a ten-year time span gave me the chance to carefully pick and choose celebratory and dark moments for all of them, to see the things that have moulded them into the people they become by the end of the story.
What are your top 5 favourite novels?
- About a Girl – Caitlin Moran
- My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrell
- Riders – Jilly Cooper
- The Power – Naomi Alderman
- Caraval – Stephanie Garber
Lastly, can we look forward to more romantic novels in the future or will you try another genre, or do both!?
Definitely! If you cut me through the middle you’d see romance stamped right through my centre. I love to read dark, twisty novels but I wouldn’t know where to start writing those kinds of stories. I love romance and relationships too much to kill my characters off!
Josie Silver Website
Words Collide Review of One Day in December