December 17, 2020
Drinking sherry, bingeing Downton Abbey ... how authors keep up the spirit of the season, even when writing during heatwaves and a nightmarish Christmas
Ive never felt less festive: the art of writing Christmas novels, 365 days a year
Christmas novels are not a new phenomenon. Charles Dickens sold out of his first print run of A Christmas Carol in days in December 1843, while Agatha Christie played on seasonal stresses with titles including The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding in 1923 and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas in 1938. But these days, there are acres of festive crime and rags-to-riches romances under the mistletoe to choose from. All tastes are catered for, whether it’s a love of trains (Edward Marston’s Victorian railway detective story A Christmas Railway Mystery), religion (Unlikely Santa: An Amish Christmas Story) or even festive erotica. Ebook retailer Smashwords stocks romance titles including The Old Dragon of the Mountain’s Christmas, and the inventive-sounding A Cyborg’s Old Terran Christmas. (“Interstellar bride Nell and her three children are forced to enter space-sleep capsules in the hope of surviving a calamity. She wakes over 700 years later on a ship of cyborg warriors. In this strange environment, Nell can’t imagine what their future will hold, but she is determined to keep her promise and make Christmas for her children.”)
It may sound futuristic, but it is part of a long tradition beloved by readers. As Christina Storey at Allison & Busby, an independent publisher whose titles this year range from Anna Jacobs’ Christmas in Peppercorn Street to Rebecca Tope’s A Cotswold Christmas Mystery, says: “Festive books are essentially like reading a warm hug.” And in 2020 especially, says Philippa Ashley, author of A Surprise Christmas Wedding, “people want to read about other people having a wonderful time, they want to forget their worries and just embrace everything about Christmas.”
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