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My first interview is with Pauline Wiles, an author living on the west coast of the US. Originally from England, she moved across the pond nine years ago. Her wonderful story "Travels with a Persian Rug" is about "house-proud Tess who is running out of patience with her husband's family, their eccentric ways and flamboyant gifts. Can her marriage possibly survive the burden of an unwanted Persian carpet?"
Welcome Pauline, I'm thrilled to have you join me today.
1. Your story, "Travels with a Persian rug," was included in Alfie Dog's holiday collection, "A Wish for Christmas." What was your inspiration for the story?
This is probably one of the most auto-biographical things I've ever written and I'm peeking through my fingers in case it's discovered by those who might recognize themselves! Suffice to say, I was once given an antique rug, and at the time I thought it was a bizarre present. However, it has grown in my affection since then and does now live happily in my dining room.
2. As a transplant from England to the United States, what is the biggest difference in celebrating the holidays between the two countries?
Well, in England, "holidays" usually mean our summer vacation, and we are politically incorrect in using the blanket label of Christmas for this time of year. The most obvious difference is the complete absence of Thanksgiving in the UK (at least, for native Brits) and I think that means, despite best efforts by retailers, we tend to get into the festive mood a little later. Hence, turkey is our typical meal for December 25, not late November. We accompany that with all kinds of quirky touches like crackers (party decorations with a slightly explosive 'snap' inside and usually a silly paper hat, which we insist on wearing at the lunch table) and mince pies, which in fact are sweet and contain no meat at all. Oh, and we like to set light to our dessert. To be honest, it's all a bit loopy.
3. What is your favorite holiday memory?
When I was young, my family owned a labrador mix named Brandy. He was hugely enthusiastic about Christmas, usually guarding the presents under the tree for several days beforehand. For the sake of his health, we limited his own (edible) gifts but wrapped them in many layers of paper to make them last longer. Watching him parade around with his parcel and eventually unearth the contents was a real treat. Naturally he supervised Christmas lunch preparations very diligently, too.
4. Do you have any iron clad holiday traditions that your family insists on every year?
Moving 5,000 miles from my parents has made a bit of a mess of family traditions! But when we're together, you can be pretty certain a brisk walk will feature somewhere in the morning, a really stinky Stilton cheese will feature somewhere near midday, and collective napping will feature in the afternoon. After the Queen's speech, of course. It would be rude to snore during that.
5. Where can readers find more of your work?
Thanks for asking! Links to my short stories and debut novel can be found here:
Bio: British by birth, Pauline Wiles moved to California nine years ago and, apart from a yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes, has never looked back. Her work has been published by House of Fifty, Toasted Cheese and Alfie Dog Fiction. Saving Saffron Sweeting is her first novel. When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.