I confess: I can be a bit of a Scrooge. When I was younger, I loved the idea of the magic of Christmas and the rest of the solstice holidays, but as I've gotten older it's become more of an indulgence in crass commercialism. "Buy this, and everyone will love you because they'll know how much you love them!" or "If you're a good citizen, you're going to buy a lot- the economy depends on you!"
But while I prefer to mark December 25th with the ancient traditions of my people (a movie and Chinese food), I'd have to be living in a hermetically sealed bubble without access to any other people not to notice that "the holidays" are an important part of everyone's lives, whether they like it or not. If nothing else, they focus the attention on people gathering together and making an effort to show their appreciation of those who are important to them. If that frequently takes the form of sweaters (worn with or without irony) and way too many baked goods, maybe that's not such a terrible thing.
Given that the first book in my series The New Pioneers is filled with college students in a famous college town, it would have been foolish not to have taken advantage of the drama that comes with Christmas. The break in classes, the scramble to travel, the young/new adults who are trying to establish new traditions, the return of important characters and, of course, the potential to meet friends of friends: it's pretty clear why many YA and NA writers would include at least one Christmas scene.
In The Smartest Girl in the Room, Christmas is a time that my heroine Emily feels unrooted after saying goodbye to both her best friend and her new boyfriend and not having a home of her own to return to. She enters into an unfamiliar situation even though she's positive she'll be outclassed. Instead, she's introduced to a very important character with a surprising connection to some of her new- and old- friends. But clarity is postponed by the return of a prodigal son (or in this case, cousin)- and the "gift" Emily receives is to be rushed out before she can meet him.
This is a pivotal moment in my story, and if Christmas hadn't been available I could have worked it into, maybe, Spring Break. But while I would have had a very good reason for getting people out of town, getting important people back into town would have been harder to explain (unless people usually have a good reason to return to Boston in March or Spring that I don't know about). It also would have meant moving the entire timeline of my story around; instead of beginning in autumn, I would have had to have started in winter, and then I would have had to have changed some of the catalysts for my story. Doable? Yes. But ask any writer what happens to a story you have to massage one too many times.
So this year, instead of channeling my usual "Bah Humbug!", I'm going to wink just a little bit when December 25th rolls around- right after I leave a movie theater and head to my favorite Chinese restaurant.
About Deb and her writing.
Deborah Nam-Krane came up with the kernel of The New Pioneers series when she was barely a teenager. It only took 27 years, but she’s finally ready to let the world read it. The Smartest Girl in the Room was released in late March of 2013 and The Family You Choose was released exactly six months later in September of 2013. The China Doll will be released (fingers crossed) by the end of December.
The Smartest Girl in the Room
Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?
The Family You Choose
Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?
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