When we think of a Christmas novel, what comes to mind? For many, it will be Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Never mind that it’s actually a novella! With its ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, this classic story is closely linked to the annual Christmas experience.
More recently, Mary Higgins Clark has written a number of Christmas novels, including ‘Dashing Through the Snow’ and ‘Santa Cruise: A Holiday Mystery at Sea.’ She co-wrote the latter with her daughter Carol.
Anne Perry, whose work normally falls into the categories of historical, murder mysteries, and detective fiction, has also published numerous Christmas novels.
The growing trend of authors writing Christmas novels year on year shows no sign of slowing.
Why Write a Christmas Novel?
Kinky Friedman is the author of the eponymous detective novels. On the subject of why he wrote the mystery novel ‘The Christmas Pig’, he said:
“Money … I wrote it to pay the rent.”
While some people will think of Dickens’ classic tale when they think of Christmas novels, others will hear the sound “ka-ching!” Writing a Christmas novel can be lucrative.
Here are some reasons why:
• Just like movie producers and toy manufacturers cash in on Christmas buying sprees, so can book publishers and authors.
• Christmas is largely a secular holiday, so it is celebrated in more than 160 countries. For many people it’s the biggest holiday of the year. Setting a novel at Christmas means creating a setting that is special, but to which many people can relate.
• Cynicism aside, Christmas is atmospheric in many parts of the world. Winter weather can be beautiful but harsh, it’s a time of great joy and yet extreme stress. It’s a time when families and friends come together and have fun. This all makes a neat backdrop for a romance story, or for a disruptive murder mystery tale!
• Books make great Christmas gifts. The gift of a book that is set at Christmas-time is particularly poignant.
What makes a good Christmas novel?
Setting the story at Christmas time is not enough. How do you write a story that is read and re-read, generation after generation?
• As in any novel, you need great characters, a compelling plot, and a setting that contributes to the mix. When all three not only work together but are inseparable, you’ve got a solid foundation.
• Consider your theme. Try to design a plot and story that hasn’t already been trampled into the snow under writers’ feet already. In general, judging by readers’ tastes, you can’t go far wrong with love and romance when it comes to themes for Christmas books.
• Like A Christmas Carol, which tackles social injustice and poverty, try to have your novel’s concerns extends beyond the Christmas holiday to achieve timeless, universal appeal.
If you can write a successful Christmas novel that captures the mood of the season and the imagination, it could be a gift that will keep on giving year after year!