Monday, December 15, 2014

Peace and Goodwill

I'm going to be busy this week preparing goodies to take down for Christmas with my daughter and her young family. Christmas with little ones is a magical time; I'm making the most of it because all too soon the excited children with their shining eyes become bored teenagers with grannies and grandpas just another cross they have to bear in their tragic lives.

I've never written a book that centered around Christmas, though it's got lots going for it, when it comes to offering up plot-lines. 

Around this time of year the newspapers and magazines are full of articles about how to defuse family rows as your nearest, and not necessarily dearest gather about you. Goodwill can be in short supply  as the resentments that have rankled since childhood resurface and murderous impulses have to be sternly quelled, even in the best-regulated families.

Even in my own, the subject of Teeny Tiny still comes up, though it is greatly to my older sister's credit that she has never been warped by her crushing disappointment when she woke on Christmas morning and saw a very cute little teddy bear peeking out of, not her stocking, but that of the baby sister who was much too young to appreciate it.  Perhaps it helped that Teeny Tiny became so precious that he still lives in the drawer of my bedside table, because my husband drew a line at sharing the bed with him.  She does still mention it regularly, though.  Perhaps there are sinister undercurrents there and I should look twice at those mince pies...

When I'm working up a plot, I always start with an event that puts huge strain on the protagonists, and of course that's almost a definition of Christmas – so much hope is invested in it now, so much anxiety that it should be perfection,  so many competing demands for what that perfection should be. so much money spent on trying to achieve it that relationships buckle come January and provide a bonanza for divorce lawyers.

There are almost too many plots on offer there, many of them used before of course, but still susceptible to being given a new twist, I suppose. I'm not tempted, though.

I do like reading crime with a Christmas theme, but only around Christmas. If I pick up one in high summer, I don't relax into it: it feels oddly stagey, somehow.  So many conventions hang about it that even going against the convention seems a bit hackneyed.

Perhaps I just haven't read the right Christmas thrillers. Tell me what they are!

May your Christmas this year be happy and relaxed and may the only problems you have to deal with be the ones you invent at your desk.


Rick Blechta said...

I'm with your husband, Aline. I won't share bed space with a stuffed toy. That real estate is much too precious!


Eileen Goudge said...

Maybe a Christmas mystery about a dead body found under the tree? There's an idea.

Aline Templeton said...

There have been Christmases when there would have been as many stab wounds in the body as on the Orient Express!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who can't read stories about Christmas in the summertime! But they do offer a nice break in the normal Christmas routine this time of year. I'll be starting Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton soon. Looking forward to a little Christmas mayhem!

Vicki Delany said...

If I may... the third Constable Molly Smith book, Winter of Secrets, begins on Christmas Eve and ends on New Years day. Egg nog is drunk, shortbread eaten, trees decorated, turkey consumed. And then there's Molly Smith, working Christmas Eve when a car goes off the road and into the frozen river.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I shall seek them out - once I've finished making the mince pies, the tablet, the chocolate truffles, the peanut butter cups and the peppermint creams they're expecting me to bring for Christmas!