by: Mary Shotwell
Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance
Release Date: November 19, 2018
Publisher: Carina Press
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Can an unlikely romance return the magic of Christmas to an entire town?
All podcaster “Cheery Charlee” Ridgeway wants for Christmas is to land her one-millionth follower. But first, she needs a really good story. Amid hundreds of submissions, one stands out: a plea from Cape Sunset, a small fishing village that hasn’t celebrated Christmas since Jack Fortner lost his fiancée four years ago.
It’s the perfect pitch, but who knew Jack would be such a downright Grinch—or so heart-stoppingly handsome?
Jack’s comfortable crab-fisherman routine is shaken when Charlee blows into town with bells on. It’s not long before the pretty podcaster is breathing new life into Cape Sunset, captivating everyone—including Jack, who’s feeling things for Charlee he once thought he’d never feel again. Not that he shows it.
Despite Jack bah-humbugging her every move, the show must go on. But the closer Charlee gets to Jack, the more growing her audience is the furthest thing from her mind. Thankfully, Jack has a few surprises waiting under the tree…including a love that will last a lifetime.
Hi Mary. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I am doing well. I’m happy to put Christmas Catch out into the world and be a part of Read Your Writes Book Reviews blog, so thank you for having me.
You are very welcome. Congratulations on the release of Christmas Catch. Tell me about the book.
Christmas Catch is a sweet small-town romance between a popular podcaster, Charlee Ridgeway, and a local fisherman, Jack Fortner. Charlee chooses the town of Cape Sunset as the Cheery Charlee contest winner. She vows to bring back Christmas, a holiday sworn off by the town since Jack’s fiancé died several years ago. She is charmed by the residents yet feels opposition, especially from Jack. That is, until they really get to know each other.
What can you tell me about the town of Cape Sunset? Is it a real place or based off of a real place?
I love Cape Sunset, and it feels real to me! However, it’s a fictitious small town on the Oregon Coast. I did live in Seattle for some time, and the weather and culture are based somewhat on my experience in that part of the U.S. The town’s economy heavily relies on fishing, especially crab fishing. But what really pulls the town together no matter the circumstances are the wonderful people.
Tell me about Charlee Ridgeway and Jack Fortner.
Charlee is an outgoing, determined and positive person who runs a nationally-known podcast. She tries to see the positive in every situation. Jack Fortner has deep roots in Cape Sunset, as if the town itself is part of his family, which includes his mom and brother in town. He goes to great lengths to carry on what he sees as his burden to bear. At first glance, he has nothing but disdain for Christmas. However, one of the themes in Christmas Catch is that what goes on deep down may not be what is seen at the surface, and that is true for both of these characters.
What is it about these two that make them perfect for each other?
Outwardly, Charlee and Jack are complete opposites—a perennial optimist versus a staunch realist. The more they interact and reveal themselves to one another, the more they connect over loss, grief, and love for family and community.
Tell me about one of your favorite scenes from the book and why is it a favorite?
Just one? Argh! I think the most fun to write was when Jack’s brother and sister-in-law invite both Jack and Charlee (of course, a surprise to them) over for dinner. I felt the awkwardness in the dining room as I typed out that scene. I love the banter between those four characters and it still makes me laugh when I read it over.
I also love (I’m cheating, I know) the sunset cruise scene. It was one of the first scenes I had envisioned when the story came to me—Jack and Charlee out on a boat together, with nowhere else to run.
What are some fun facts about Christmas Catch?
The main road going through Cape Sunset is Ballard Street, named after one of the scientists that sparked my interest in marine biology when I was young.
The way the feuding neighbors store their Christmas lights on paper towel tubes is based off my parents. They can be overly-organized sometimes.
Ironically, I had not listened to a podcast in my life before writing Christmas Catch. I ended up researching podcasting for perhaps too many hours and it opened a whole world for me. Whether that’s a good thing or not in terms of my time is another story!
What’s your favorite part of a book to write?
I like the most awkward, uncomfortable situations the best. I tend to write those the fastest. It is fun to write the budding relationship scenes, but I connect most with the drama and mixed emotions of being thrown into an awkward situation. Relationships, especially when love is involved, can be awkward. It’s tough to plow through a gathering when you don’t want to be there, or talk about subjects you’ve buried deep down over the years. I like writing out how characters get through those moments in their own ways.
Christmas Catch is your first published book. What’s next for you?
In terms of romance, I can’t get enough of small-town stories. Currently I’m writing a summer romance that takes place on Lake Erie, near where I actually grew up. I’ve lived in so many parts of the country (and out) that I want to share the traits of those places with readers. Each one has its own charm and romantic qualities. Loosely, the story is about a big-city girl returning to her hometown ten years after leaving. Coming back means coming to terms with her past—including an old flame she had all but forgotten.
Mary, thank you so much for your time.
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After studying dolphin behavior and great white shark populations, she earned her Ph.D. in Biostatistics in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there, during the arduous dissertation process, where she had the idea to write a book. Creative writing served as a natural escape from technical writing, wedding planning, pregnancy, and job hunting.
Mary is excited to debut her first romance novel Christmas Catch (Carina Press, 2018). She loves incorporating her science and nature background into her fiction. When adulting, she’s a wife to husband Matt and mother to three dragons, sometimes referred to as children when nothing is on fire.
Places to find Mary Shotwell: