GUEST POST | www.jamieadstories.blog | Stories Set At Christmas
About the blogger: This blog post was written by Jamie, a writer and blogger who has a keen interest in books, entertainment and the environment. Take a look at his blog here. You can also find him on Twitter.
It was really great to be given a chance to write a Christmas article on The Grumpy Olive. And for me, it just had to be something related to books and stories. My blog, JamieAdStories, tends to focus on reading, entertainment and the environment so I really appreciate linking with the Grumpy Olive sisters for this guest post opportunity. As a bookish person, I spend a lot of time immersed in stories. And anyone who knows me will be aware that I absolutely adore novels that are set in winter, and especially at Christmas time.
Festive Spirit – Stories set at Christmas
Stories tend to be published around this time of year with a Christmassy vibe. But I will happily read a festive story at any time of year. To me, a story set at Christmas or winter setting makes a book all the more enchanting. If the author has been careful in carving out a snowy backdrop, creating an atmosphere of Yuletide songs, celebrations and gatherings, then a story immediately becomes warm, happy and endearing. I could drink in that festive spirit all day long (and probably all year round).
Any genre can add a bit of ‘Christmas’ joy
I read widely and am trying to experience new genres all of the time. Having said that, the Christmas books that I’ve read haven’t always been romantic or dramatic. They have been YA books, short stories, crime novels and comedies. One of my favourite sets of YA books is the ‘Dash and Lily’ trilogy. These were all based during the Christmas period and were made all the more special because of that particular backdrop. Last year Netflix serialised the first book, during New York’s festive celebrations. Lily left a challenge in a Moleskine notebook at a local bookstore. Dash happened to flick through the book and accept the challenge. This led to a string of dates that mostly linked cleverly to Christmas events.
Romantic books are lovely but I read them less often than contemporary dramas. However, one love story I read by Paige Toon, called ‘One Perfect Christmas’, was more appealing to me due to its Christmas cover. Alongside the fact that it was set in Cambridge, which I know very well. The subtle details of a wintry location bring comfort to me. Maybe because I can relate to the characters stepping out onto the crisp snow or embracing the warmth of a fire after a day out in a blitz.
Scandinavians do Christmas well – stories set at Christmas
Ever since spending a brief period in Norway, I realised just how much Scandinavians value and embrace the Christmas spirit. My dream would be to tour Norway, Sweden or Finland during the Christmas break. Santa Claus is said to dwell in Lapland, amongst the forests of evergreen trees, relying on reindeer for support. That knowledge adds a touch of magic and intrigue to stories that originate in Scandinavia.
Right now, to get me back in the mood for festivities, I am reading ‘A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales for a Nordic Noel’ by a variety of Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish writers. These short tales are full of culture, feel-good moments and lined with layers of Christmas magic. I am reading one a day and absolutely enjoying their short narratives which have heart and intrigue.
Drama happens at Christmas time
If you have ever been part of a family gathering on December 25th, you will be well aware of how much drama that can be. First, there is pressure on whoever is cooking the ultimate feast, be it turkey or nut roast. Then there is the awkwardness when sibling rivals reunite under one roof for the day. Captured by the importance of the event, desperately stifling the need to yell at each other. When the sparkling wine starts flowing, funny moments happen. But so do arguments, fallouts and deeply hidden secrets often emerge over pudding.
What better time to set a story than Christmas? It just provides so many opportunities. I, myself, wrote a story which began with a school play and the parents falling out. ‘Love Actually’ took the Nativity to new levels when Hugh Grant kissed his lover and the staging fell down. Carol singing also shows up in many books and plays, as do concerts, present swapping events and Christmas tree shopping trips.
I read a really short story by Joanne Harris, in the book ‘A Cat, A Hat and A Piece Of String’ which captured the Christmas mood in just three pages. So, tales don’t have to be long to be engaging. On the other hand, a longer novel, ‘The Chalet’ by Catherine Cooper, is set in a winter retreat in the south of France. It tackles a ski trip that went drastically wrong twenty years ago, followed by a recent holiday where the main characters uncovered all sorts of foul play. If the same story had happened on a sunny beach, it just wouldn’t have had the same effect.
What gives Christmas the edge?
Although a few people find Christmas a bit irritating, I am pretty sure that most adore the decorations, the sparkling lights, the Baileys liquors and the present giving. Whether you are religious or not, it is easy to enjoy the kindness, atmosphere and fun that tends to go hand-in-hand with the season of goodwill. Stories can encapsulate this magically. And so November and December are high-selling months for authors as readers want to lap up some of that Christmas feeling.
Writers are experts at creating moods and describing scenes. So it is only natural that Christmas presents a perfect setting for narratives of all kinds. From thrillers involving carving knives to comedies involving drunken office parties, from nativity plays to snow-capped adventures. The festive season is a brilliant time for writers and readers.
So, for me, Christmas is clearly a very special time and obvious backdrop for riveting stories. I hope that you will pick up a wintry novel to keep you company as the colder weather sets in, lights are low and the jingle bells start tinkling on the Christmas anthems. Whether it is a white Christmas or not for you, why not become absorbed in a well-written story, draped in all things festive?
Thank you so much Jamie for writing for us, it’s a pleasure to have his piece here! We love reading Jamie’s blog, so you need to make sure you check it out as well.