Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Books - In the Dark and Be My Baby

PG Forte and I (Meg) both have books releasing today at Samhain, In the Dark for PG and Be My Baby for me. Not surprisingly, they’ve both got tie-ins to Christmas and Thanksgiving.
So how did I come to write a “holiday book”? Part of it was just wanting to try out a new season in Konigsburg. I usually think of the Texas Hill Country in spring and summer, partly because that’s when the Hubs and I used to head up there for a little wine drinking. This time I wanted to talk a little bit about what goes on there in what passes for winter in South Texas (it does snow down there occasionally, although ice storms are a lot more common). The Hill Country is very big on Christmas. Lots of Hill Country towns have elaborate lights in the town square and, of course, lots of merchants are available to take your money for those scented candles or embroidered denim shirts that you just can’t live without anymore. I also associate Thanksgiving with the Hill Country because the family used to head to Fredericksburg to celebrate (see my post on Over the River and Through the Woods). So the holidays in the Hill Country have a special resonance for me.
But I also wrote about the holidays because it gave me a chance to emphasize families, particularly the Toleffsons. If you’ve read Venus In Blue Jeans or Wedding Bell Blues, you’ve met some of the Toleffson brothers. The more I marry them off, the more they become a mega-family unit, and I thought it would be fun to show them functioning that way, eating and celebrating together.
Finally, when I wrote Be My Baby last year, I was in a really family-oriented frame of mind. The DH and I were getting ready to move to Colorado (in fact, he was coming out here three months before I was), and I was preparing myself to be a thousand miles away from my sons. While they’re both out on their own now, when we lived in Texas, they were both within an hour’s drive. Now they have to catch a plane and fly for a couple of hours to get here. So maybe I was feeling a little more sentimental than usual. Anyway, the family holiday scenes play a big part in Be My Baby, maybe because they played a big part in my life while I was writing it.

PG: Meg, I understand the sentimental motivation! My first holiday themed book, The Spirit of the Place, was set in my fictional town of Oberon, California. I wrote it during the year-and-a-half I was living outside of California, right around the time an earthquake caused serious damage to the little town where I used to live. I think it's fair to say I was very homesick at the time and writing about my perfect—undamaged—town was therapeutic.

Today's release, In the Dark, is actually the fourth book I've written with a holiday twist to it. I love this time of year so writing about it is a special pleasure—especially since I insist on the proper music, decorations and goodies, no matter what the actual season is when the books are being written. Since I seem to write these stories back-to-back, for some odd reason, that's led to a couple of years when the decorations were never put away at all!

The Thanksgiving and Christmas scenes in In the Dark take place in 1968. I loved watching my eleven-hundred year old vampire (with no great love for a religion that had, after all, branded him a demon) navigate his way through some modern day Christmas traditions—all to please the young lady for whom he's fallen. And the fact that 'modern', in this context, means 1968..well, that made for an extra bit of nostalgic fun for me.

One of the sequels to In the Dark will be set partially in the glittery 1970s and 80s—I'm so looking forward to the holiday scenes in that book!

Sometimes I think writing 'the holiday book' is something nearly every author finds her or himself doing at some point. Sort of like singers have to put out a holiday album.

So what about you, readers--do you like reading holiday themed books as much as we like writing them?


sherry said...

Yes I love to read holiday themed books it just seems to help me get into the holiday spirit. I just really love to read any time any place.

PG Forte said...

Hey, Sherry. That's so true...books really can get you in the spirit, no matter what the season.

Meg Benjamin said...

I know--I usually save a couple of Christmas-themed books to get me through Christmas with the in-laws!

PG Forte said...

Um, speaking of in-laws, Meg, I sure hope you didn't draw Lydia from personal experience!

My holiday reads tend to be the same favorites that I read every year...I'm such a creature of habit. erk.

Meg Benjamin said...

Nope, my MIL is more like Mom Toleffson (just kidding, honest). I've also saved some re-reads for Christmas, like Stephanie Laurens's The Promise In a Kiss.

PG Forte said...

lol! Hmm...I'll have to check that out. One of my newest favorites (as of last year) is J.M. Snyder's "This Christmas".

Erin Nicholas said...

I love holiday themed books! I always buy new ones (isn't that convenient that two of my fave authors have books out... oh, today! *G*) to help get in the spirit and I've been known to pull one out in July just for fun! :)

PG Forte said...

my, that *is* convenient, isn't it? lol!

Nine Naughty Novelists said...

Congratulations on your releases Meg and PG, I know you've been waiting for this! And yes, Christmas is all about family and love.

Kelly Jamieson said...

Okay oops that comment from Nine Naughty Novelists is me :-D

s7anna said...

I'm a big fan of holiday themed stories...I actually like to read them all year round because they are a comfort read. Something about a holiday story just gives me a cosy and happy feeling. I do hoard a bunch of them for the holidays to really get into the spirit of the season plus I'll re-read old holiday stories.

Happy Holidays
Anna Shah Hoque