Monday musings for the beginning of the holiday season
By A.J. Llewellyn
When I first started writing romantic mystery novels in 2007, my novel, Phantom Lover, sold surprisingly well when it came out in June of that year. I was keen to get my next book published, but my publisher had other ideas. She sent her authors a list of upcoming title releases and I was dismayed to see she’d already filled release dates through the New Year.
I emailed and asked if there was any chance somebody might drop out and one of my books could fill a slot. She said there was always that chance, but I got the feeling this was unlikely.
A week later, she called and asked if I could write a quick Christmas story for a December release. She needed it to be short, around 20k and needed it ASAP since one of her authors had dropped out of her planned holiday schedule.
A Christmas in June
I said yes immediately but had no idea what I would write. A Christmas story in June! I took my dog for a walk because I get my best ideas walking her and it came to me. I’d written two sequels to Phantom Lover but knew they wouldn’t see the light of day until Spring—at least—of 2008.
Since I didn’t want people to forget my two men, Kimo and Lopaka, I came up with what I thought would be a funny, sexy between-the-numbers tale. Fly Me to the Moon was so much fun to write. I played Christmas music and ate Christmas-style fruit cake from the British tea shop around the corner. It was yuletide in my home for the three days it took me to write this book.
It sold very well, launching my career. Since then I’ve written a dozen holiday stories and to be honest, I can write them regardless of the season. I’ve come to understand that publishers require their books well in advance of publication for a variety of reasons.
With holiday books they want them months before the release date so they’re not handling things like last minute final line edits on Christmas Eve.
My favorite holiday other than Christmas, is Thanksgiving (because everybody celebrates it) and until a few months ago I’d never actually written a book around that particular celebration. Not sure why. But I really wanted to write one. It’s been a difficult year for everyone but in California, we’ve been in lockdown since March 17 and I was feeling really sad.
I was going to miss seeing my family and friends and enjoying my aunt’s amazing baked yams (okay, what I was really going to miss was the marshmallow topping on those babies).
A few months ago, after I’d signed up for a Thanksgiving book, I was stuck. What to write? What to write? I sat at my computer working on everything but that story. A friend called, suggesting we drive to Beverly Hills. I thought it was a great idea. We could walk the streets we love so much and maybe find some cake and coffee!
On the way she told me about the house she was thinking about buying in West LA and we passed by it.
I was astonished at the vivid blue-painted front porch, blue trim on the white windows and she said, “Oh, yeah. That’s the haint.”
“Haint. Haint blue. Supposed to ward of ghosts. Big thing in the South.”
You don’t say? I was anxious to get home and Google haints and warding off ghosts. It was rough getting through that afternoon because I was feeling inspired. I raced home when I could and did a boat load of research. I love research. I love myth. I love legends and paranormal romance. I had so much fun concocting Kill the Moon and hope I won’t offend any ghosts or boo hags by bending myth a little bit. I hope you get the chance to read it when it releases on Friday the 20th. I wrote it long before the Thanksgiving holiday, but it was firmly in my heart with every word I wrote.
Happy Thanksgiving to you, and as Andy Borowitz once said, “For those of you who cannot be with family, please resist the urge to brag.”
is the author of over 300 M/M romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.
Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.
A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.
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