Books make super Christmas presents so I thought I’d gather together a selection of gorgeous Christmas books that would make perfect stocking fillers. And what better book to start off with than Sue Moorcroft’s wonderful A Christmas Gift, which is also available in hardback.
One Christmas can change everything…
Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after
I asked Sue to tell us a little about how she plotted the book
My heroine in A Christmas Gift is Georgine France. She’s the events director at Acting Instrumental, her local performing arts college. By far her most important show is the Christmas one, crucial to the course work of the Year 13 students of dance, drama, music and tech.
Unless you count an in-class pantomime that I co-wrote at senior school, I’ve never been involved in a Christmas show. All I remember at this late date is that the pantomime involved a song:
Had a canary
Up the leg of her drawers.
When she farted
Down he darted
Down the leg of her drawers.
This kind of set the standard, and the song wasn’t even original.
Not having experienced what I wish to write about doesn’t deter me. I enlisted the help of a friend, Wayne Parkin of the Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham, and he gave me a lot of general pointers. From there we decided on a show of two acts. Act 1, of three scenes, would run for fifty minutes and Act 2, of four scenes, would run for forty. He wanted the interval to be twenty minutes but I insisted on thirty because, you know, there’s such a queue for the ladies. These details never actually came into the book but I felt I had to know them so I had something solid to write around.
The show, A Very Kerry Christmas, Uncle Jones, is about what gangsters do at Christmas. (Hint: they know where you leave all those expensive presents on Christmas Eve.) Kerry Christmas sees her beloved, generous uncle on a CrimeWatch type TV programme and has to decide whether to dob him in. It’s when she realises he’s drawing her brother Casper Christmas into his gang that she makes her big decision.
As the show has to involve students from every aspect of performance, I decided on musical theatre. After all, when they’re not robbing houses, what else have gangsters to do at Christmas apart from burst into song and dance? I worked songs into each scene and created a rough storyline. I created a table of the show’s running order, as if it was truly going to run. I had a rehearsal schedule on my electronic calendar, too.
Then I had to think about where the show would be rehearsed, how the scenes would be broken down into smaller segments for rehearsal and how and when they’d come together. I had to learn the stage set up, the use of a dual stage, stage direction and a whole lot of other stuff, then decide what props there would be for every scene. Gathering props became a constant preoccupation for Georgine. In the week of the show she had to get them shifted from the college to the theatre so it was no wonder she was exhausted at the end of it all.
What I enjoyed working into the book was that so many people had more than one role. I don’t mean one on-stage role – more that the tutors were also artistic directors, reacting to the stresses of the build-up in their individual ways.
Georgine had a million tasks apart from being the overall director. She had to create the programme, transport students, collect or create costumes, find volunteers to take tickets and man the bar, appoint a prompter and brief the tech crew. The show A Very Kerry Christmas, Uncle Jones forms a story-within-the-story in A Christmas Gift. Creating it convinced me that I hadn’t been wrong to avoid Christmas shows after the brief dalliance with pantomime when I was at school. There’s way too much to think of!
But it was worth it in the end.
You certainly did a lot of plotting and research, Sue, and the song made me giggle! Here’s a screenshot of Sue’s plan for the Christmas show.
You can purchase A Christmas Gift here:
It sounds a fabulous book, Sue. Can you tell us a bit about how you celebrate Christmas? What is your favourite Christmas memory?
Putting the Christmas tree up with my kids when they were small.
I always enjoyed that too. When do put up your Christmas tree? Do you prefer a real or artificial one?
To be honest, I don’t put one up any more! I go more for a few little decorations around the house in vases.
I bet they look lovely. How do you spend Christmas Day?
Quite quietly, enjoying a nice lunch and whisky and chocolate in front of the fire. My extended family celebrations come on Boxing Day and another between then and New Year.
How cosy and relaxing. What present are you hoping to receive this year?
A new earring. I have five ear piercings and the one on its own needs replacing.
Thanks for talking to us, Sue. I hope you get your new earing. 🙂 Thank you for dropping by to talk to us. Merry Christmas!
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Karen! Merry Christmas, everyone.
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award, the Katie Fforde Bursary and twice been nominated for RoNAs.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared all over the world.
You can find out more about Sue here:
Facebook profile [Sue.Moorcroft.3]
Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/suemoorcroftauthor/] @SueMoorcroftAuthor
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When Saffy’s sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of getting home to run her usual ‘singles Christmas lunch’, Saffy knew she would have to abandon her plans for wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall to save the day. But family parties are so not her thing and both her sister Hannah and sexy single dad Logan seems certain she’ll never manage. Can she prove them wrong? Now available in print and as an ebook: