Bottesford cracker factory becomes inspiration behind bestselling Christmas book
A cracker factory has become the inspiration behind the setting and characters for a brand new Christmas novel.
The Mother of All Christmases, from the Sunday Times bestselling author Milly Johnson, tells the story of three women who meet each other at a ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a group aimed at helping mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys.
It follows their quest to help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches, with the majority of the story being based in a cracker factory.
As with all her novels, Milly wanted to do her research first and started to look for a cracker factory to visit and bring her ideas to life.
Milly, who has written 15 novels so far, said: “Lack of research can ruin a story so I always like to collect as much information as I can. It helps to colour the background and fill in the details.
“As soon as I walked into Simply Crackers, everything fell into place. My vision came to life in front of me. It was just how I pictured it in my head and I could see all of my characters.
“I had an instant connection with Geine who took me through everything, including how to make the crackers and add jokes.
“Before becoming an author, I worked as a jokes writer for greetings cards including Purple Ronnie, so Geine was happy for me to even add a few of my own jokes to the crackers.
“Everything was just how I’d imagined, including the relationship and banter between Geine and husband Tony, who helped to colour my characters.”
The Mother of All Christmases is Milly’s second novel this year and she has been overwhelmed with the reaction it has received, adding: “It has gone bonkers. I have never had a response like this to a book before. It has been like a fairytale.
“I think it has been able to tap into peoples emotions and make them both laugh and cry.
“It has been one of my favourite books to write. I have had the idea in my head for a while and it just kind of wrote itself.
“I wrote my first book when I was pregnant with my first son so now that they have now grown up my apron strings are pulling. It still feels raw so I think this book captures this period in my life which a lot of parents can relate to.”
Geine Pressendo took over as managing director at Simply Crackers in 2010 and has seen its success grow each year. `
Normally too busy to accept any publicity opportunities, she wanted to make an exception for Milly.
She said: “It was a big surprise when Milly contacted us.
“I felt privileged that she wanted to take the time to get to know us and the business properly. She visited the factory a couple of times and always spent several hours with us.”
Geine is enjoying yet another successful year of manufacturing bespoke, branded and handmade crackers.
Since being set up in 1982 by Heather Wheatley, who enjoyed making craft products in her spare time, Simply Crackers grew from a home-based start-up to a major organisation working with a wide range of international brands, including Mulberry, Centre Parcs, Burberry, Carluccios, Heineken and the BBC, providing a wide range of bespoke crackers to sell or give to customers, employees and stakeholders for festive celebrations.
Since being bought and taken over by Geine in 2010, the company has now expanded its portfolio to new markets, including customised wedding crackers and branded Christmas crackers for corporate events, manufacturing all of its products from its warehouse in Bottesford.
Geine took over the business when she became disillusioned with her job as a finance manager. With two children at home, she craved a more balanced lifestyle.
But her new business nearly didn’t make it past its first Christmas after the existing staff left just months after Genie took over.
Genie said: “After the staff left, my husband Tony took unpaid leave from his job in London to help with production. We ended up having a very successful first Christmas... and my husband never went back to his job.”
Nine years on and the company deals with average orders of between 10,000 and 15,000 crackers per client and Geine works alongside Tony, who has taken the role of production manager, to meet the demand.
They also employ one other member of staff to manage the website and seven people who fill the crackers from home.
She added: “We hope to invest more on our website and get involved in more of the publicity opportunities that come our way.”
The Mother of All Christmases is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback and is available in all good bookshops and supermarkets.
For more information on Simply Crackers, visit www.simplycrackers.co.uk