Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Christmas book

 As you know my Christmas book, What Happens at Christmas, has just been re-issued with a brand new cover and blurb. The story is the same though, so don't go buying it twice! 

There is a story behind how I came to write it. I'm not big on Christmas, although I like the traditional elements - carols, decorations and food. Especially food. Writing a Christmas romantic suspense novel - or any kind of Christmas novel - wasn’t on my immediate ‘to do’ list. I had toyed with the idea, and had conversations with friends over whether it was possible to do it. There are plenty of novels involving crime that are set at the festive season, but romantic suspense makes the crime so much a part of the love story - and then you need a touch of that Christmas magic …

It was an interesting challenge, something for the forward plan. Then, in the serendipitous way that books sometimes get hatched, I had Christmas lunch at a restaurant with some writing friends, and the conversation naturally revolved around writing, and somehow the topic of kidnapping came up – yes I know, but I did say these people were writers. Lunch ended and we all went our separate ways, but the talk about kidnapping stayed with me. By the time I got to my train home an idea for a plot had begun to stir.

I still wasn’t sure about actually doing anything with it, but the suspense thread had really begun to unravel in my head. Then a strong image of a hero and heroine began to form, and at that point I was hooked. The book was written over the holidays – some of it on Christmas day itself, which helped a lot with the Christmassy feeling! I really enjoyed doing it, so it became a little Christmas present to myself.

When the book opens neither Lori nor Drew is planning on a conventional Christmas, but they’re in no way anticipating the Christmas they actually get. Through an unexpected series of events, Lori finds herself making a Christmas for her four year old niece, and Drew finds himself involved in a TV kidnapping stunt for charity that has gone horribly wrong …

Add in a setting in the Brecon Beacons, a strong minded cat, a guest appearance from Devlin, who was the hero of my debut novel, Never Coming Home, a converted barn and a great deal of snow – and that’s the book. It doesn’t end at Christmas – the story unfolds over a year, until the following Christmas, but the core of the story – the part when Drew and Lori begin to fall in love - is in those first few snow-bound days in Brecon. I’ve tried to use the senses to create atmosphere, Christmas lights, flickering scented candles, log fires, starry nights, carols playing on the radio - and in the centre of it Lori and Drew - gradually becoming romantically aware of each other, over a few hours of peace in the midst of tension. Both Lori and Drew have their own back stories too – Drew in particular has very bad memories of Christmas past that he needs to deal with before he can move on.

Of course, there is tension, mystery, threat and danger and some characters come to unhappy ends – all the elements of romantic suspense. If you're looking for something edgy in your festive reading, you might like to try it. 

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