Today, I'm thrilled to welcome author of The Christmas Promise (TCP), Sue Moorcroft to talk about Writing the Christmas Novel! TCP has done very well since the ebook release on 6 October 2016, and currently has 63 Amazon UK reviews (of which 53 are 5 star, and 7 are 4 star). Recently, TCP has reached the top 5 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart (and is this morning, number 3!). Congratulations, and over to you, Sue...! (updated 2 Jan 2017: TCP actually made it to number 1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart before Christmas, huge congratulations to Sue. And here's my 5 star review).
Writing the Christmas Novel, by Sue Moorcroft
It was some time ago that I watched Christmas novels selling year on year and decided that I ought to write one. I also talked over ideas with my agent and she picked the Christmassy one as having the most commercial potential – i.e. she felt confident in being able to sell The Christmas Promise to publishers because it was the one she felt the publishers would be able to sell to the readers.
Why do people like Christmas novels? Maybe they just want to extend their enjoyment of the atmosphere of present-giving and fab meals with loved ones, of munching on chocolates and watching Christmas Specials on TV. Or maybe it’s because the characters are probably having a worse Christmas then the readers are!
Ava, my heroine, isn’t a Christmas fan. To make sense of this in the context of a novel I gave her unpleasant associations from her childhood. To ensure she’d dislike this Christmas in particular I ran her millinery business into trouble. I also let ex-boyfriend, Harvey, threaten Ava that if she doesn’t go back to him he’ll disclose intimate pictures of her, the crime we popularly refer to as ‘revenge porn’. He makes the threat whenever he’s had a drink. And he drinks a lot.
Sam’s conflicts are less of his own making but just as intense. His mum Wendy is in the elapse between surgery and chemotherapy and he’s trying to make Christmas wonderful for her. He commissions a special gift, which is what involves Ava in The Christmas Promise of the title, a promise she finds increasingly hard to keep.
It takes me quite a while to write a book. This one took about nine months so I couldn’t count on having the Christmas atmosphere of snow and sleigh bells to sweep me through the process. July sun pouring through my study window or not, I needed to invoke Christmas myself, to select Christmas presents for my characters to give to one another and the Christmas shows they might attend.
If you’re hoping I can arm you with tricks like writing with the freezer door open and the computer festooned with tinsel, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Like most people who have written for magazines I’m familiar with the situation of writing for one season while experiencing another. It just takes a combination of imagination and research.
The book was well underway when My Weekly magazine requested that a serial I was writing for them be set at Christmas, too. If I was able to comply then they could offer me a great slot in their Christmas special issues, the issues that sell better than any others of the year. Obviously I grabbed the offer. But writing a Christmas novel and a Christmas serial at the same time did leave me feeling pretty Christmased out!
Would I write another Christmas book? Yes. It was poignant to have Ava and Sam deal with difficult issues when they’re expected to be jolly and everyone else seems preoccupied with sparkly clothes and wrapping gifts. Christmas is a great vehicle for highs and lows (and, don’t worry, they get their highs, too!).
I find myself looking forward to Christmas more, this year to seeing my book on the shelves and hoping that it contributes to readers’ happy Christmases. #MyPromise is I’ve done my best, anyway.
Thanks very much for your interesting post, Sue, and best of luck with the paperback launch for The Christmas Promise (released 1 December 2016, available for pre-order now).
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. A past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies, Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and the Katie Fforde Bursary.
Sue’s latest book is The Christmas Promise (Avon Books UK, HarperCollins)
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor
Amazon author page: Author.to/SueMoorcroft