Welcome Lisa Maloney to Creekside Café
Author: Lisa Maloney
Novel: The Twelve Dares of Christmas
Release date: November 22, 2023
Lisa Maloney is an author based in Chicago, Illinois where she lives with Albert, a tiny lion masquerading as a cat. An attorney by day, she spends her evenings and weekends reading, writing, baking, and making book-themed pottery. After a lifetime of making up elaborate tales and telling stories, she finally wrote one down. Lisa has always loved the cozy feel of a holiday story, but has always wished that they didn’t have to revolve solely around finding a romantic partner. She figures that if you can’t find it, write it.
When Haley’s parents left on a last-minute trip to a tropical island for Christmas, they knowingly left something important at home: their daughter.
Faced with the reality of her first holiday alone, Haley and her roommate lose themselves in a wine-fueled movie marathon. Next thing they know, there are empty bottles on the coffee table along with a list of dares that turn the twelve days leading up to Christmas into a series of hilarious, festive challenges. Suddenly it’s all silly games, new friends, and run-ins with security guards—there might even be a bit of romance brewing.
A new spin on a Christmas classic, The Twelve Dares of Christmas is perfect for those who savor the holidays, seek out opportunities to make memories, and cherish friendships, new and old.
Sherri: Hi Lisa, welcome to my virtual café. It’s a dream of mine to have a coffee shop where I can sell books, coffee or tea and talk with my friends about books and writing. Until I win the lottery, I have to be happy with my online Creekside Café. What would you do if you won the lottery?
Lisa: So many things! I’d imagine you go through waves of adapting to the financial freedom and time you suddenly have, and realistically the first week or two I’d likely just sleep, read, cook elaborate meals, and let myself have time to fully relax. My parents live across the country from me, so I’d go visit them for a while before heading abroad to travel for at least a few months. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I love taking classes and workshops, and first on my list would be heading to Italy to take a cooking class for the local specialties in every region. I’ve always liked the idea of writing one of my future books in a small cottage in Ireland overlooking the ocean, so maybe I’d spend a month exploring somewhere there too. Eventually, I’m sure I’d find a home base and balance traveling, spending time with friends and family, writing, and making pottery (something I’ve been doing for a few years now). I’m an attorney by day, so I’d also love to be in the position to work part time offering pro bono services for small businesses and new authors navigating the legal world surrounding the writing and publishing process.
Sherri: I’m reading your novel now and I’m loving it. It is so much fun. What was the inspiration for The Twelve Dares of Christmas?
Lisa: I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! It still feels surreal that it’s being read by people out in the world. I wonder if that ever goes away sometimes, and I sort of hope that it doesn’t. I wanted to write a book about having fun during the holidays. I’m a big fan of the cheesiest of cheesy holiday movies, but they’re usually centered on a romance, often with the romance being a “fix” that the main character needs to figure out what they want in life or just stop feeling lonely. I firmly believe that you can be happy and whole and have so much fun without a partner (even if you also would like a partner!), and I wanted to write a story that had characters prioritizing friendship and embracing silliness. There is some romance brewing throughout the book between the main character, Haley, and someone she meets as a result of the dares, but I tried to make it secondary to the main focus of the story and the character’s growth. I’m hoping that readers appreciate that while Haley is excited about her potential romantic partner, he’s not going to become her whole world overnight.
Sherri: Haley and Anna have a wonderful relationship. They are each other’s family. I have some great gal pals that I know I can call when life goes crazy. Do you have anyone like that in your life?
Lisa: I have a handful of friends like that, a few of which live in different states and one of which lives in a different country. Between the distance and how busy all of our lives are, you really have to make conscious effort and take time to nourish friendships, and I think that’s why I love Haley and Anna’s friendship—they really look out for each other and support each other.
Sherri: I am assuming that Christmas is your favorite holiday, but is it? What is your favorite part of the holiday?
Lisa: Picking a favorite holiday is so tricky because I like them all for different reasons. I love seeing people intensely concentrate on trying to pick between different bouquets and chocolates for their sweetie on Valentine’s Day, I love when people go all-out with incredible costumes and makeup on Halloween, and I love that Christmas is a whole season with lots of activities. Spending a Saturday baking cookies and then strolling around looking at lights and decorations with a warm drink in hand? Sign me up! Soft blankets inside and catching snowflakes on your mittens outside? Yup, I’ll be doing that too. The best part, though, is that I get to spend time with my family. I get a week with my parents (and some years my brothers when they can make it) where we take their dog for walks, play games, walk along the beach, and make great food. The best food is what we call “The Feast” which takes place on Christmas Eve—seafood, steak, and potatoes—that we look forward all year. I felt a real kinship with Haley while writing the book because I’ve never had to spend Christmas without my family, and I really felt for what she was going through.
Sherri: My favorite genre is romance and I’m rooting for Haley and Anna to get their guys, but I also like the fact that this story isn’t just about the romance. It is a refreshing take on the holiday comedy. What are some of your favorite holiday books or movies?
Lisa: I re-watch The Nine Lives of Christmas each year—you really can’t go wrong with a vet student and a begrudging new cat owner falling in love but pretending it’s just their cats that like each other. During the holidays I love any books with the grumpy-sunshine trope and it’s also the time of the year I’m most likely to read any kind of romance happening in a castle or with royalty. I’ve been building up a holiday TBR that I’m really excited about—the first two books on the list for this season are Witchy Coffee by Erin Ritch and Making Spirits Bright by Carly Greer.
Sherri: I like wine but know very little about it. I drink Riesling or something sweet and fruity. What would be a good wine for Christmas? Do you make mulled wine?
Lisa: I actually don’t like mulled wine much, which is a shame because there’s a great Christmas market in Chicago that serves it, and I always want to like it when I visit. I love cider, though, and it definitely works well with a boozy kick. For wine, I really like lambrusco for winter holidays and hosting. It’s sweet and sparkling, two of my favorite things!
Sherri: Are you planning other holiday books or some more adventures for Haley and Anna?
Lisa: I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it a series, but I can’t get Anna out of my head. She deserves her own book. During one of the dares in this book she ends up at a nursing home, and I knew the moment I wrote her stepping through the door that she’d volunteer there after the conclusion of this book. Her story is going to take place as she’s planning an event for the residents—maybe it should be a Valentine’s Day dance!
Sherri: This is your debut novel, what was the hardest part of getting this book from idea to production?
Lisa: Two things stick out. The first is that writing is so mentally and creatively exhausting, especially at first. The first draft of this book started in January of this year, and at first writing a few hundred words felt like a mental marathon. Once I developed more consistent habits around writing that eased, but it never fully went away. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel like you’ll never get to the end of the draft if you aren’t taking breaks and letting your imagination rest. The other thing that was really, really difficult was that I was on such a tight deadline. Because a holiday book doesn’t have the same flexibility with respect to its release date, I knew that I either had to not just write the book but also get a cover, edit and get an editor, format, and do the dozens of other tasks required to publish in time for this holiday season or I’d be forced to wait a full year. Because I’m independently publishing, that meant that I didn’t have a publisher providing the resources and experts I needed, but rather that I needed to learn all of those things and source all of the contributors myself. I definitely would have been less stressed if I’d waited until next year to publish, but something kept pushing me to do whatever I could to get this story out into the world. I like to think that someone is going to read it this season that really needed it.
Sherri: If you could give advice to another debut author, what would you tell them? Or what would you tell yourself if you could go back before you started this book?
Lisa: The best thing I did for myself during the writing process and the best advice I could give to new and aspiring authors is to make sure that, as you try to build habits around writing, you never frame making less progress than you’d hoped as a failure. I gave myself a goal of spending fifteen minutes each day focused on my book, but that was a goal, not a requirement. That caveat made it so that the days where I just didn’t have the time or mental/creative energy to spend fifteen minutes on my book were never tinged with feeling bad about myself or my lack of progress. I didn’t want an undercurrent of shame or failure attached to building a writing habit at all. It helped me look at even the smallest amount of progress as a win.
Sherri: Lisa, thank you for being here at Creekside Café. If you are ever in eastern North Carolina look me up. I’m the one on the riverbank with a book in her hand. Tell our audience where they can find your book and how they can follow you.
Lisa: Thank you for having me! The book releases on November 22, 2023. The ebook is available for pre-order now, and the paperback will open for ordering on the release date, both on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Dares-Christmas-Lisa-Maloney-ebook/dp/B0CLTP8MK7/ref=sr_1_1?crid=793P2R7YQFHT&keywords=the+twelve+dares+of+christmas+lisa+maloney&qid=1699927217&sprefix=%2Caps%2C95&sr=8-1
The Goodreads page is up and running as well at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/200714439-the-twelve-dares-of-christmas
Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@maloney_made for writing, reading, and silly content
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maloney_made/ for my pottery, much of which is book-themed