Come this time of year you can’t move at virtual booksellers for titles that reference snow, bells, or wishes and covers that feature well wrapped up couples, sleighs, and Christmas trees. This fact is especially true in the romance genre.
Christmas stories. It’s a strange concept, at least from an author’s point of view. Why spend time writing and editing a story that will only really sell for a couple of months a year. More often than not, you’ll find authors getting ‘joyful’ over their festive holiday manuscripts in the long, dark, drab nights of February and March in order to meet the publishers’ submission dates. Nights when the jolly, sugar-fuelled highs of December have long since faded. The excitement of new gifts have waned into moans about the battery consumption and food that had been such a delight to indulge shows no sign of shifting from your waistline. With authors working in these conditions it’s a surprise to find any Christmas spirit in the resulting stories at all.
As a reader I understand the appeal of a festive story. Come December the first I’m unlikely to pick up a book that unless it comes with a HOHOHO and a huge dollop of sugar attached. Go back a decade and I never changed my reading habits as Christmas approached. When every book I read involved guns and spies, cops or adventurers my need to make my reading matter appropriate to the season didn’t exist. Yes, I would occasionally pull out my dog-eared copy of Tied up in Tinsel and give that a reread but that was as far as Christmas would intrude on my reading. It’s only since I started reading romance that I discovered this urge to make December a month of light, sweet reads.
So what makes a Festive themed story?
No, you can’t just set it around one of the December celebratory holidays and hope for the best.
A lightweight, low angst story tends to work well. I don’t know about the rest of you but I don’t want my Christmas filled with death, destruction or infidelity (I can get my fill of that from the Christmas Day episodes of the British soaps).
I want something sweet that will make me smile. I’m more tolerant of teeth-rotting saccharine sweet stories at this time of the year than at any other, when I prefer my story with a low to medium level bite.
I’m also more likely to accept a version of instalove and be satisfied with a HFN over a full blown HEA. I think this is because many of the stories take place over the short Christmas break or in those few weeks leading up to Christmas so the relationship has to develop quickly and they often only deal with the MeetCute or the start of the relationship. The Magic of the Season brings our MCs together, why should we not believe that same Magic can give them a HEA even if we don’t read about it on the page.
So bring on the snow-ins and candy canes, the elves and dancing penguins, lost presents and blocked chimneys.
I’ll read them all. And some of them I’ll write. When Love Flue In is available now.
What makes a festive holiday story for you?
Buy Links: Totally Bound // All Romance ebooks // Kobo // Amazon UK // Amazon US
(This post was originally published here in 2014. The location might have changed but the sentiment hasn't.)