What was the inspiration for The Little Village Christmas?
I once heard a story about a project to repurpose an old building as a youth club. The project was scammed out of the money raised for the refurbishment and one of the organisers solved the funding problem by successfully pitching to a TV programme for a property makeover. I thought it would make a great plot – but things must’ve changed, as I found that every programme I researched required the subject to have its own budget. I couldn’t use my left arm for a couple of weeks after a procedure and I watched a few (OK, a more than a few) property programmes and kept coming back to the idea of TV being involved somehow. All I had to work out was how, then throw Alexia into that situation and see how she reacted. She took me by surprise.
I was also intrigued by the problems a friend has with his brother. They aren’t the same issues as Ben and Lloyd face but the underlying mistrust and resentment made for an interesting plotline. I like every member of my family and I’m always surprised that it’s not like that for everyone.
I also had in the back of my memory something that happened when I was a teenager and a young guy crashed the car he was driving, completely changing his life and that of the passenger in the car, his fiancée. With a fundamental change to the situation so that it’s Ben’s wife in a car driven by Lloyd it made a good inciting incident.
Do I often use incidents stored in my memory banks?
Yes! I don’t sit and consciously dredge through my memories but sometimes things drift into my mind and I find myself wondering about those long-ago people and trying out ‘what happened next’ scenarios. Then I mix in a bit of ‘what if?’ for added drama.
Do I also use anecdotes I hear?
Yes again! But I usually seek permission or, if that’s not possible or appropriate, change the situation until it’s unrecognisable. Often it’s only the premise of the story I use because my characters will react according to their own characteristics and that changes everything. Just for the Holidays is an example. A friend told me about her holiday and I said, ‘Ooh, may I use some of that?’
Any other sources of inspiration?
My imagination is top of the list, obviously, but I read news features too. I like to see what contemporary challenges people are facing. Such challenges can relate to technology or the negative side of a modern phenomenon like social media, as in my other Christmas book, The Christmas Promise.
Why write about Christmas?
Originally, it was a commercial decision. Christmas books are popular. But once I began planning and writing I saw how Christmas can emphasise challenges, create its own pressures or throw people together who might not otherwise meet. I’ve written Christmas serials for My Weekly magazine too. You can read one for free here:
Themes of The Little Village Christmas as I see them
Love, loss, family, betrayal, friendship, the fallout from being victims of a scam, regeneration, Christmas, village life and community spirit.
Love is powerful; love can change your goals; love sometimes hurts; friends and family members are not always perfect; when a victim, fight back; have a Plan B; Christmas can bring family, friends and communities together.