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Abiola Bello on Love in Winter Wonderland

Love in Winter Wonderland

The lack of positive Black representation in books really bothers me. It's something that is at the forefront of every book that I write and to be honest it's still something I don't understand why we continue to have this conversation instead of changing the landscape.


There is a major issue with Black representation in romance so when me and my agent spoke about what book I should write next, YA rom com came up. To be honest it wasn't something that I thought I could write but when I realised that I couldn't think of a single love story with Black people at Christmas that wasn't a film, I wanted to try my luck at writing that story.


My biggest setback was my confidence. The one YA I wrote did get me my brilliant agent but it didn't sell, I had never written romance or a dual narrative. Why am I stepping so much out of my comfort zone?  In the end I figured the worst that can happen is if it's rubbish, I can pretend it never happened! So, I did some research.


I discovered that 70% of my very packed bookshelf is romance! Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella, Nicola Yoon and I'm sure I own every Jackie Collins novel. So somewhere deep inside I must know how to write this genre. Whenever I write in a new genre or age group I like to read at least two books that fit within that so I have a better idea on how my book should read.


My favourite YA book and is also a rom com is Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven and it's a dual narrative. Now I've read this book a billion times - I am all for Jack and Libby but I wanted to understand what is it about them that I love so much. My other favourite YA is Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney which celebrates Black love. Carter, the male love interest is a character you really could fall in love with. I wanted to replicate that swoony, feel-good love on paper. I wanted to create a guy that the reader wished was real! But how do I do that?


I thought about past relationships and moments that made me feel wanted and I was trying to pinpoint what was it about the guy that made me feel butterflies. Was it a look? The way they smelt? The little things they would remember about me? Were they smooth? Awkward? Overtly flirtatious? Any good memory I thought of I banked it and tried to replicate that feeling.


Another thing that helped was music. I used to be a professional dancer, so music is a massive love of mine. I wasn't the most joyful person at the time so trying to write about love and Christmas seemed like a mountain I couldn't climb. I listened to O Holy Night by Mariah Carey over and over again. Even though I felt low and heart-broken there is something uplifting and beautiful about that song so I would sit with my headphones till 3am every night, to make my deadline with Mariah on repeat. And it worked.


Sometimes the book that's going to get you that book deal might be something that you feel is beyond you and you instantly disqualify yourself. I encourage you to step out of the box and give it a try. Like I said earlier it might be rubbish and then you can pretend you never wrote it or it could be that book that readers have been waiting for. Go for it!

Love in Winter Wonderland

A feel-good romance guaranteed to warm hearts!

Will Trey and Ariel find their happily ever after in this hopelessly romantic love story?
‘A screen-worthy holiday romance.’ Joya Goffney, author of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

Trey Anderson is popular and handsome, and he works at his family’s beloved Black-owned bookshop, Wonderland. Ariel Spencer is quirky, creative, and in need of a holiday temp job to cover her tuition for The Artists’ Studio. An opening at Wonderland is the answer . . . and the start of a hate-to-love journey for Trey and Ariel. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of shutting down, can they get over their differences and team up to stop the doors from closing before the deadline?


‘A sweetly seasonal YA romance.’ Guardian 

‘Gorgeous writing, witty dialogue, a magical setting and two characters you'll fall head over heels for.’ Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places
‘A story so charming and fun it will whisk you away. It has TikTok sensation written all over it!’ Laura Jane Williams, author of Our Stop
‘I devoured this delicious YA rom-com. A treat to read any time of year.’ Katherine Webber, author of Twin Crowns
‘Charming, heartwarming and perfect cosy reading, complete with the perfect holiday soundtrack!’ Ciara Smyth, author of Not My Problem
‘Full of warmth, humour and joy. A delightful read!’ Michelle Quach, author of Not Here to be Liked
‘A dazzling love letter to bookshops, and the power of community.’ Adiba Jaigirdar, author of Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating
‘A wonderfully warm love story.’ Candice Brathwaite, author of Cuts Both Ways
‘A warm and cosy read that pulls you into the perfect winter romance. Abiola has given us all a gift to swoon over.’ Benjamin Dean, author of The King is Dead

‘A gorgeous love story, full of joy, humour and heart. Abiola Bello has given us something truly special!’ Danielle Jawando, author of And the Stars Were Burning Brightly

‘The most joyful, cosy and swoon-worthy love story.’ Kate Weston, author of Diary of a Confused Feminist
‘Fans of Mean Girls will love this delightful and riveting read.’ Clara Loveman, author of Crown of Crowns