Posted in Events, Personal life, Reading, Writing

Festive Fun with BBC Radio Gloucestershire

A report on my appearance on BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Chris Baxter Show yesterday

BBC Radio Gloucestershire logo“I love this book! It’s festive, fun and a bit silly at times!” said BBC Radio Gloucestershire presenter Chris Baxter yesterday, when I was a guest on his excellent afternoon show. “It gets your imagination going, which stories at Christmas need to do.”

I’d been invited to talk about Stocking Fillers, my Christmas book of short stories, and I was thrilled to hear that Chris had been enjoying reading it on the train on his way to work that morning. We talked about the writing process, when I’d started writing them (high summer! – more about that here), and the challenge of writing short pieces.

Cover of Stocking Fillers

After that, I was invited to read extracts from some of my favourite stories, which of course I was very pleased to do. I can now describe the book as “as featured on BBC Radio”, which is a terrific endorsement.

As ever, it was a joy to take part in a BBC Radio Gloucestershire programme, and I came away, as always, so impressed with what a great job they do bringing the community together and spreading goodwill throughout the county, not only at Christmas but all year round.

Debbie on a stall with her books
At a Christmas fair

And this time, there was also something else to take away: a request from Chris Baxter for some ghost stories for next Christmas. Hmmm, I’ll have to give that one some thought…

In the meantime, if you’d like to listen to interview, for the next month you can catch up with it on BBC iPlayer here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02dsf6d
(from 1 hour 10 minutes into the programme)

Cotswold Bookroom Christmas shop window display
Stocking Fillers is in the left hand window, in the centre at the front

If you’re in Gloucestershire and would like to pick up a last-minute, er, stocking filler, the book’s currently stocked at four local independent shops:

The Cotswold Bookroom in Wotton-under-Edge

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop (branches in Tetbury and Nailsworth)

The Hawkesbury Shop (general village store)

And you can download an ebook from online retailers at any time. (Paperback also available for online purchase.)

Merry Christmas reading, folks!

Julia Forster and me outside the Nailsworth branch of the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, where we'd just delivered new stocks our the books we're holding
Julia Forster and me outside the Nailsworth branch of the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, where we’d just delivered new stocks our the books we’re holding

 

Posted in Personal life, Writing

When Fiction is Like Fashion

(This post was written for the December 2014 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News)

Photo of an Ithacan beach with clear blue sky
Thinking of summer in midwinter

With the shortest day fast approaching, I’m already thinking about Spring. That’s because I’m starting to plan a collection of short stories due to be released at Easter.

As in the world of fashion, if you’re planning to write topical fiction, you have to think at least one season ahead. I therefore started writing my festive short story collection, Stocking Fillers, while soaking up the Greek sun back in August. At first, it seemed seem strange to be writing about Christmas while wearing a swimsuit. It got easier a couple of weeks later, when I spent a fortnight in Scotland. Although it was still only August, the weather was more like November. But as my daughter always likes to say, “We don’t go to Scotland for the weather”.

Cover of Stocking Fillers
Now available to order in paperback from all good bookshops and online as an ebook

Available to buy as an ebook or in paperback from the start of December, Stocking Fillers consists of twelve short stories, all humorous, as various characters prepare for the big day. My favourites include a grumpy middle-aged dad penning his first Round Robin Christmas letter, a little boy wise beyond his years offering Santa time management advice, and a busy mum wondering how on earth she’ll fit in all of her chores before Christmas Eve. Not every character is loveable, and the stories aren’t all sugar-plum sweet, but I hope you’ll find them fun. If you’d like signed copies to give as gifts, just give me a shout and I’ll be happy to add a special message by hand.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas!

Posted in Personal life, Reading, Writing

Christmas Surprises

(This post first appeared as my December/January column in the Tetbury Advertiser, out now.)

Although we put so much effort into planning our festive celebrations, I often find the highlights of my Christmas are the moments that take me by surprise.

Photo of young Laura playing with Playmobil figures at Christmas
From the archives – Laura, aged about 3, enjoying her Playmobil collection. Note Father Christmas is just arriving in his very tiny sleigh.

One such occasion occurred when I was a child, growing up in an outer suburb of London. When I  was  about 11, the age my daughter is now, I was for the first time considered old enough to go to the midnight church service on Christmas Eve. We weren’t a particularly religious family, but the small, plain church in our garden suburb had special significance for us. My parents had married there, we children had been christened, my grandfather was its choirmaster, and the small, rotund, gentle-manner vicar Mr Daniels, was a family friend.

The night was grey and drizzly as we entered the church, which seemed bright, warm and welcoming after our chilly walk from home.  Though battling to stay awake, I enjoyed his service. I was especially impressed by the colourful model crib, but the most memorable moment was yet to come. When Mr Daniels threw open the heavy porch door for the congregation to leave, the churchyard before us lay covered in a perfect blanket of snow. Illuminated by the orange glow of street lamps, big flakes fell steadily as we gazed in wonder, never having guessed that the weather could change so much during the church service.

Yes, I know it didn’t really snow in Bethlehem, but that snowfall felt like a special Christmas blessing: deep and crisp and even, snow on snow. You have to admire God’s timing.

After serendipitous delights like this, I’m happy to leave much of my Christmas preparation to chance. An incurable last-minute merchant in any case, I know that nothing I could plan would ever surpass the wonder of the snowy walk home from church all those years ago.

For Your Christmas Stocking

Cover of Stocking Fillers
My new collection of short stories for Christmas

My love of festive surprises influenced my latest book Stocking Fillers, a collection of twelve humorous short stories about the festive season.. Each tale follows a different character as they prepare for Christmas, from a small boy who tries to give Santa time management lessons, to an old lady celebrating what’s likely to be her last Christmas. Though not all the characters are loveable, I hope you’ll find them entertaining and memorable.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just before writing this column, I received a lovely surprise – the first official review of the book, which describes it as follows: “A delightful celebration of all things Christmas, Stocking Fillers features 12 funny, thoughtful, surprising and heartwarming tales that will get you in the festive spirit. Debbie Young’s writing is thoroughly engaging. If you’re looking to put some of the magic back into Christmas, and rediscover the reason for the season, start by treating yourself to this lovely read.” Well, that surprise has made my Christmas already.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and may it be filled with wonder and surprises of your own.

Stocking Fillers is now available to order as an ebook online and in paperback from good bookshops everywhere.