Saturday Spotlight: How to Write a Christmas Romance by Alison May

It’s lovely to welcome Alison May back to the blog today. We’ve known Alison for a while now as she was first on the blog in June 2013 and she also had the dubious pleasure of sharing a flat with 3 of us at last year’s RNA conference.  Amazing things have happened for Alison since then – her first novel Sweet Nothing was published by ChocLit, followed by her hugely successful Christmas novella, Holly’s Christmas Kiss.  Alison now has another book in the Christmas Kiss series out (but I’ll let her tell you about that). As the expert on festive romance when we delighted when Alison agreed to contribute a story to our Winter Tales anthology and we thought we’d ask her for a few tips on how to put the romance into Christmas. 

Alison MayFestive romance novellas are very much the current thing. They seem to be more utterly 2014ish than loom bands, or Latvia joining the Eurozone, which I think we can all agree were very much the Main Things that happened this year. You can barely move on the modern interweb for holly-covered book covers, and I’ve written two myself – parts one and two in my Christmas Kisses series – so I was not surprised at all when the Write Romantics asked me to share my Christmas romance writing tips. Specifically, I was not surprised because it followed a lengthy period of me sending them regular begging emails, and one tiny unfortunate incident when they caught me hiding behind their bins.*

Anyway, they did ask me, and so I have positioned myself on my Christmassy writing throne, cracked open the good eggnog, and located my finest Victorian-imitation festive quill pen. With no further ado, here are my Christmas romance writing tips. They are twofold:

Tip 1. Write a really good romance.

Tip 2. Make it properly Christmassy.

Now I’ve just read those back, and I do have to acknowledge that they might not seem like the best thought-out tips ever concocted, but they actually, honestly, are. Writing a Christmas romance novella is really simple, but, unfortunately, simple isn’t the same as easy. The most important thing is that you don’t try to fake it.

I love romance stories, and I absolutely adore Christmas, to the point that I have Christmas twice a year – the traditional main event with family, and an additional late November Fake Christmas where we do the full turkey, trimmings, presents and champers shindig in advance with chums. When I write my Christmas stories, they’re not just love stories between the hero and heroine; they’re my own love letter to Christmas itself. Holly’s Christmas Kiss is my tribute to the childlike excitement and anticipation that I still feel in the run-up to the festive season. My hero in that story, Sean, is the physical embodiment of the enthusiasm and lack of cynicism that I associate with that feeling. My new Christmas Kiss story, Cora’s Christmas Kiss is my love letter to the glorious imperfection of Christmas – the idea that the perfect Christmas is about people and love and kindness, rather than finding the right outfit or cooking a faultless meal.

CCK_ 300dpi

And, for me, Christmas and falling in love go together beautifully. I tend to write heroines who are a touch on the control-freaky side. Falling in love, for them, is often all about letting go of control and taking a chance. Embracing Christmas is much the same – it’s about letting go of the boring grown-up part of yourself that thinks about consumerism, and worries about things not going according to plan, and rediscovering your inner six year old. Inner six year olds are awesome. Inner six year olds don’t worry about consumerism because they know about Santa and his reindeer, and they don’t make plans for anything that can’t be built out of Lego. Their only Christmas worry is about the Lego-carrying properties of flying reindeer, which isn’t really a worry at all, because flying reindeer are magic, as any good six year old know.

I may have digressed a little there. Sorry. I was thinking about reindeer. My point though, was this: if you love romance, and you love Christmas, then throwing those two things together is genuinely the most writing-fun you’re ever likely to have. All the things that are too schmaltzy to write at any other time of the year, are allowed at Christmas, because at Christmas frogs really can turn into princes, Wicked Queens really can turn out to be secretly lovely, and reindeer really do know how to fly.

*Because the Write Romantics obviously have shared bins, on account of how they all live together in one big writing mansion, where they eat peeled grapes, compose awesome stories, and have woodland creatures to assist them with all their domestic chores.**

**This is definitely and actually true. ***

***Probably.

Alison May is a novelist and short story writer, who writes romantic comedies for Choc Lit. Her debut novel, Sweet Nothing, was published in 2013, and she was a contributor to the Write Romantics’ anthology, Winter Tales. Alison lives in Worcester with her husband, but still no pets, on account of what happened to the goldfish.

You can find out more about Alison by following her on Twitter @MsAlisonMay and on her website http://www.alison-may.co.uk

Her latest book, Cora’s Christmas Kiss, is out now for Kindle.

About Cora’s Christmas Kiss

Can you expect a perfect Christmas after the year from hell?

Cora and Liam have both experienced horrible years that have led them to the same unlikely place – spending December working in the Grotto at Golding’s department store.

Under the cover of a Father Christmas fat suit and an extremely unflattering reindeer costume, they find comfort in sharing their tales of woe during their bleak staffroom lunch breaks.

But is their new-found friendship just for Christmas? Or have they created something deeper, something that could carry them through to a hopeful new year?

Plus, keep your eyes peeled for characters you may recognise from Alison’s previous novella, Holly’s Christmas Kiss.

We love reading your comments and would love to hear your thoughts on what makes a good festive romance.  To leave a comment please click at the end of the tags below where it says (in really teeny, tiny type) ‘comments’

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13 thoughts on “Saturday Spotlight: How to Write a Christmas Romance by Alison May

  1. Ah, Alison, you always make me smile! I love the idea of love letters to Christmas 🙂 I have written a Christmas novella this year and have been surprised at how many random strangers (as my teens would say), rather than just my mum, have downloaded it or bought it in paperback. I probably broke your rule, though, as my story spans two Christmases and the year in between, so I’m off to download yours now to see how it really should be done! x

  2. I KNEW I’d heard someone in our bins! 😉
    Lovely post, Alison. I love Christmas stories and, who knows, after your sage advice I may even try to write one myself one day.
    Love the idea of a fake Christmas! Now that’s inventive.
    Wishing you lots of success with Cora’s Christmas Kiss and Merry Christmas!

  3. Ha ha ha Alison. Great post! I absolutely love the idea of the WRs all residing in a grand mansion together. We could all lie on chaise-longues a la Bubbles deVeer (may have spelt that wrong) and dictate our novels to scantily-clad firemen. Hmmm, may have got a smidge carried away then!

    Good luck with your Christmas novella. I have both on my Kindle and look forward to getting stuck in xx

  4. I loved your last Christmas story so will definitely treat myself to this one too! By the way can any writer get these mythical woodland creatures to help with housework? If they can I’m signing up 🙂

  5. There’s something so magical about curling up in the winter, the Christmas tree lights twinkling and reading a Christmas book. Thanks for sharing, Alison and have a very Merry Christmas!
    Helen R 🙂

  6. Ohhh, what a lovely post, Alison. Reading this, I can see your novellas will be a real Christmas treat. Off to feed my flying reindeer, whilst pondering Jessica’s scantily clad firemen. 😉 xx

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