Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wild Card Weekend - Conjuring Christmas

A big hello wave to Presents author Sarah Morgan, joining us this weekend to talk about writing Christmas stories and getting in the mood...

I love writing Christmas stories but I usually end up starting the book in early November, long before I’m ready to start feeling festive. Over the years I’ve learned to fastrack myself into a Christmas mood, so today I’m sharing my tricks with you just in case you’re about to write a festive story. This is how I conjure up Christmas…….

• Decorate my office. By decorate, I mean filling a few glass vases with baubles and twisting fairy lights around various unsuspecting objects. I also have a very obliging holly bush in my garden that fortunately produces copious quantities of scarlet berries from November onwards so I cut long branches and arrange them in a pot.

• Light a scented candle. Smell is very evocative and a few years ago I discovered a great winter scented candle that really makes me think of Christmas. I love the comforting flicker of the flame and the scent of cinnamon and spice.

• Make a Christmas playlist. I always use music to influence my mood, and Christmas is no exception. As well as the obvious Christmas carols, I love early choral music and playing it quietly in the background provides atmosphere without distraction.

• Mood board. For a Christmas book I always create a mood board. I cover it in pictures of snow, pine trees, log fires – all the things I’ll be using in my Christmas story.

• Build a snowman. All right, I confess I’ve never actually done this because we’ve never had enough snow in November to allow the construction of even the smallest snowman, but I keep hoping because I know that building a snowman would make me feel Christmassy.

• Christmas movies. If all else fails, I’ll watch a Christmas movie (although obviously this isn’t top of my list because if I’m watching a movie, I’m not writing and I don’t need any more reasons to move away from the keyboard). My particular favourites for inducing that festive feeling are Love Actually, While you Were Sleeping and Home Alone).

What puts you in a festive mood?

The Twelve Nights of Christmas is Sarah’s first festive story for Harlequin Presents and features a heroine who loves Christmas and a hero who does everything he can to avoid it. It’s a book full of secrets and things that sparkle and yes, there’s a snowman. The book is a November release for Harlequin Presents Extra and has been nominated for a 2010 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.


  1. I must be doing this wrong. I always seem to start Christmas books in the middle of the summer when I haven't a hope of inducing the right atmosphere. But totally agree about Love Actually, which is pretty good for just about everything!

    Fab title, btw!

  2. What a nice interview and very good advice about creating mood. Thanks. When I go around shops and it is all decorated in festive colors then I start getting in the Christmas mood as well! Even if its early November!

  3. Yay - I love Sarah Morgan's Christmas stories - I have lots on my shelf and re-read them all year round. It's espcially lovely to read about snow and UK winter Christmas' when we have hot sun in NZ!

  4. Love the thought of writing a Christmas story and had never really considered the technicalities of creating a festive feeling at the wrong time of year. Now, seriously considering, getting a holly bush, love the picture!

  5. Hi folks, sorry to be a bit late to the party (in bed, coughing – one of the less pleasant ways of reminding yourself it’s winter!)

    Liz, I’ve just read Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto and it’s utterly brilliant and I can’t believe you wrote it in the summer! Still, I know all the women’s magazines do their Christmas shoots in the summer so they’re filming Christmas cake and showing models in thick jumpers while we’re sweating in the summer heat (well not really sweating obviously, because you live in Wales and I live in England and the sun is usually busy elsewhere – let’s just say we’re wiping off rain that’s warmer than usual ☺)

    Nas, seeing Christmas decorations in the shops does send me into a mild panic. I can cope with November but they seem to be on the shelves earlier and earlier

  6. Katie, I’m so pleased you enjoy my Christmas stories. I really love writing them – it’s part of my Christmas. We had lots of snow here last year so I wasn’t short of inspiration!

    Susan, our holly bush is fantastic. It produces so many beautiful red berries which I always use as part of our Christmas decorations. If winter turns really cold the birds usually eat the berries at the beginning of December so I have to remember to cut a few branches early. If you’re thinking of buying a holly bush, make sure it’s female. Only the female bush produces berries.