With the holidays approaching, we’re steeped in the Christmas spirit–the smell of pine trees wafting through the chill air, people buzzing about, doing last-minute holiday shopping, and gorgeous holiday displays and decorations.
How do you convey the wonder of the holiday through fiction? We invited author Elisabeth Fairchild to talk to us about writing in the Christmas spirit and her regency novel by the same name.
How do you define the Christmas spirit?
For me, the heart and soul of Christmas is in humanity’s finest expression of light, warmth and joyful giving in the heart of a dark, cold, season of endings. The Christmas spirit warms even the loneliest of souls given we open our hearts to a sense of wonder and celebration, choosing to interact positively with the world around us.
I usually set out to have a memorable Christmas. Often, the best of plans go awry. Writing any book is, for me, a search for heroic and historical truths. In THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, I focused on the Yuletide season’s potential for hope, magical moments and joy in a reality I think we can all relate to–where the best of plans for “the best Christmas ever” are turned upside down.
I’ve had a Christmas or two turned upside down, and in many ways those less than perfect holidays tend to refocus everyone’s attention on what is truly important in life, in giving, and in faith. For my character Lord Copeland and his least anticipated guest, the Christmas Season is a time when lives and souls are unexpectedly at stake. What starts out as a light-hearted holiday gathering–a search for the ghostly Christmas spirit that haunts a snowbound country house–proves a test of spiritual conviction and strength of character.
Does this mean THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT is a paranormal Regency? Well, I set out to write a very traditional English Christmas story set in the Regency era, and one of the most traditional of English tales is the Christmas ghost story, so THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT is all of the above.
I love rooting my writing in real history, settings and events–which means I searched for real ghosts. The country house setting for THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, Broomhill Hall, is inspired by Bramshill. Known as the most haunted country house in Hampshire, a royal family held an exorcism at Bramshill to rid the place of the rambling “White Lady” who haunted their Fleur De Lys room. A grey lady is to be seen in their conservatory and a green man near the pond. A child’s spirit may take your hand if you are lucky enough to visit the angels in the Cope family chapel. Best of all, I learned the legend of the Mistletoe Bough–perfect fodder for a romantic Christmas ghost story in the grand old English tradition. Here was a houseful spirits who might remind us of the highest stakes possible in searching for the true Christmas Spirit, plus mistletoe.
Most writers add elements of their own lives to their works. I’m no exception. Having spent a year in Denmark working in a haunted castle, I felt compelled to add the Danish tradition of woven hearts to a story that dealt so much with broken ones.
May your Christmas, upside down, or right side up, broken-hearted, or cherished, be blessed with heartfelt expressions of love, warmth and comfort in the face of the year’s cold, wintry end–and may your heart and soul be lifted and filled with the joyful promise of life everlasting.
Donna Gimarc, aka: Elisabeth Fairchild is the critically acclaimed, theme driven author of seventeen Jane Austen era romances, historical novels and novellas awarded the Golden Quill, the HOLT Medallion, the Bookseller’s Best, a Waldenbooks Bestseller of the Year, and a Career Achievement Award in Regency romance. To learn more about her and her work, visit her website.
With one foot firmly fixed in the past, and the other dancing in the otherworldly, Elisabeth avidly explores cathedrals, castles and country houses, and considers herself a historical mentalist with old soul insight, a phenomenal floor-to-ceiling research library, two brilliant, mind-reading, magical Border collies and a wild, one-eyed black cat.
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