Tis the season to be… Bah! Humbug! in the words of Kat Black.
Christmas. The biggest holiday, and undoubtedly the most decorated, sung about, advertised and romanticised event of the year. From October onwards, you’d have to go a long way to escape the festive frenzy and relentless tinsel-bound assault launched upon our senses.
With its traditional emphasis on love and family, giving and sharing, it’s an especially popular set choice for novelists, too. What could be more heartwarming than a happy-ever-after tale set against a magical backdrop of glowing hearths, twinkling fairy lights and sumptuous seasonal feasts? The feel-good factor is way off the charts!
But what if Christmas isn’t really your thing? What if the sound of sleigh bells or the jolly jingles being piped through every shop, bar and restaurant are more likely to leave you fighting the urge to commit GBH rather than suffused with the glow of goodwill?
People are, of course, all different. We come in a multitude of shapes, sizes, and temperaments – and with individual traits that colour how we interact with, and react to, the world around us. For every easygoing, glass-half-full optimist, there’s a cranky-pants pessimist – not to mention the infinitely varied range of personality types that fill the gap between the two. It’s just not feasible to expect everybody to be the same, or to like the same things. The world would be a far duller place if that were the case.
It follows then that the same should apply to fiction, and that by embracing diversity, stories can be kept fresh and interesting – not to mention downright entertaining where theme and character are intentionally mismatched. For example, the setting for my new contemporary romance, Melting Ms Frost, is Christmas time – an event for which the main character, Annabel Frost, appears to have little regard or patience. A no-nonsense, independent woman with a chilly reputation, Annabel gives every impression of being impervious to the warmth and joy of the mass celebration happening around her. If we were to rate her on a Christmas Spirit scale, we’d be looking firmly at the Scrooge end of the spectrum.
But just because a character doesn’t like something, does that mean they should get to avoid it? Well, no, I don’t think so. Where would the fun be in that? And while I admit to taking possibly a shade more pleasure than was necessary from setting a festive minefield for Ms Frost to negotiate, the purpose of doing so wasn’t only to satisfy my warped sense of humour. Being able to see how characters manoeuver their way through a story littered with obstacles designed to annoy and challenge and test, allows us to gain a much greater insight into their personalities and motivations.
It’s worth remembering that, whether we’re talking fact or fiction, not everybody needs to be the same. It’s our differences that make our real and fantasy worlds such wonderful and engaging places.
Merry Christmas to you. Or not.
How do you thaw the coldest of hearts?
When Aidan Flynn walks into Cluny’s Restaurant, he can’t take his eyes off his new flame-haired boss, Annabel Frost. With his heart set on seducing her, Aidan can think of nothing but getting beneath her cold exterior. Known as one of the toughest women in the business, Annabel is impervious to Aidan’s many charms, and his compelling grey gaze and persuasive Irish lilt do anything but captivate her. But Aidan knows there’s more to Annabel than meets the eye. And he’s not going to stop until he reveals all…
Kat Black is the author of prize-winning, pulse-pounding, contemporary romantic fiction. Born and raised in Australia, Kat spent a great deal of her formative years either lost in the pages of a book or getting carried away by the stories in her head. At the age of eighteen, she donned her backpack and set out to see the world. She got as far as London (her very first port of call) before running into a six-foot-one, solid British obstacle that stopped her in her tracks. Years later she’s still in England, missing the sun, sea and sand, and penning temperature-raising tales to help counteract the effects of the infamous weather. It may be taking a little longer than planned, but she is getting to see the world – bit-by-bit with her husband and children.