Christmas in July – the problems of writing out of season
06/12/2018 | POSTED BY Abbie
Jane Lovering, author of Christmas Secrets by the Sea, reflects on how to get that festive feeling during a heatwave
It comes as a surprise to many of my friends that writing a book isn’t an instant process. Although I don’t know why, since most of them can’t even write a coherent note to the milkman given four weeks, a following wind and a thesaurus, but there you go. Anyway. Writing a book takes flipping ages. Then you have to build in the time for editing, cover designing and all that, so it can be about nine months from the moment you first have the bright shining idea to the book actually appearing in a form that people can hold in their hands (when it is considerably less bright and shiny and you frequently don’t care if you never hear the word ‘context’ again).
And with this big time delay come inherent problems, the chief among them being seasonality. I was writing Christmas Secrets by the Sea during the summer. A very long, and hot, summer. Imagine, if you will, the sight of an author trying to conjure the sights and smells of a winter storm on the Dorset coast, with concomitant wind, rain and other inclemencies, whilst being subjected to thirty-degree sunshine and an inconsiderate amount of gentle breeze and cloudless sky. It was tough! Fortunately I live in a house with an inside temperature so low that all visitors come in, shiver and say ‘is this place haunted?’ even during the hottest days, so I never had to resort to sitting with the fridge door open whilst listening to recordings of thunder and lightening and rubbing myself with ice cubes to get into the right mood.
So, there I sat, indoors and really quite chilly considering the outside temperature, writing about Christmas, whilst other, more normal, people were running around in swimsuits and leaping in the sea. It’s surprisingly difficult to remember what it’s like to be wanting to drink hot chocolate and mulled wine when you’re gasping for a gin and tonic and you haven’t seen a sprout for months. But that’s one of the tricks of being an author: when you have to imagine an entire story, imagining the taste of Christmas pudding and the sound of a winter storm is easy. The hard bit is describing them so that readers can also imagine the taste of a Christmas pudding, when they might be reading the story in July…
Anyway. I’ve started a new book now. It’s set during a long, hot summer. Guess when I’m writing it? Go on, take a wild stab – I’ll give you a clue: I’m wearing two fleeces and the tip of my nose just fell off.
Jane’s new book, Christmas Secrets by the Sea, will be out on Thursday 13 December. Happy Christmas!
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