Feeling Festive in the Making of The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk
By Victoria Bromley, Eleanor Bowskill and Daisy Ward
December is the month for reading wintry romances and cosy winter tales. For those looking to ignite their festive spirit, Lindsey Kelk's latest novel The Christmas Wish is a must-read. We wanted to find out what it's like to write a Christmas book all year long and if Kelk’s own Christmas experiences inspired any of the scenes in her book.
The Christmas Wish is a witty rom-com that takes on a Groundhog Day-esque narrative with a twist. Stuck in a perpetual time loop, protagonist Gwen keeps reliving the same tragic Christmas Day at her parents’ house, trapped within the turmoil of festive disasters and too much Christmas pudding. But Gwen’s charismatic neighbour, Dev, is also back home for the holidays and she hasn’t seen her childhood crush in a decade. Will a Christmas romance be enough to save her?
Our discussion began with the reason behind Kelk making her latest title a Christmas book. For both “creative and commercial” reasons, she explained how it made sense for the book to have a “festive hook” with the publication date being in November. After listening to the song I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, the “festive time loop” story evolved. It was interesting to discover that Kelk didn’t encounter any difficulties or changes to her writing process when drafting out The Christmas Wish compared to her other non-Christmassy books. This is because they’re all rom-coms, and that “the hardest part was making the time loop work.” Kelk said “it took a lot of work but I ended up with something I’m incredibly proud of, it really was a test.”
To feel festive when writing the novel, we imagined Kelk’s office filled with Christmas decorations and Mariah Carey on repeat. However, “as a certified Christmas obsessive,” she found it easy to get into the Christmas spirit. By writing the first draft in summer, the plot structure was ready for redrafting during the holiday season, “which helped when it came to adding that certain festive fizz.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
With the novel set on Christmas Day, we wanted to know how Kelk’s own Christmas traditions inspired her book. While Kelk said there were certain elements taken from her Christmases, “like everyone taking their places to open presents on Christmas morning,” there were many fictional moments sprinkled into the narrative. It turns out, Dorothy Across the Road’s party, the firework display, and the rude brother-in-law were all made up, “although I wouldn’t say no to a glass of Dorothy’s rum punch.” Unfortunately we don’t have confirmation as to whether Kelk has a dining table centrepiece of a nativity made from Slyvanian Families.
Instead of a wild, family-frenzy Christmas Day, Kelk said she has a tradition with her husband to spend the day together, just the two of them, as a reward for their long working hours and busy schedules. “We get up, open gifts and eat a bit of breakfast before I start on cooking lunch” she said, then “we’ll usually watch a movie while we drink some wine, just hang out with our cats and enjoy the massive Christmas tree.” Sounds like the perfect Christmas Day, with “an awful lot more eating to be done as the day goes on.”
While there weren’t any particular Christmas authors who inspired The Christmas Wish, Kelk said she gained most of her Christmas creativity from indulging in “Christmas songs and movies''. Kelk has her “Christmas playlist in the car” and will “watch anything with a Christmas tree in it.” Her favourites are “the old classic romcoms like Christmas in Connecticut and White Christmas” as well as having “a soft spot for eighties films like Gremlins, Die Hard and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Whilst being a Christmas rom-com, it’s still important for Kelk that the stories she tells “feel meaningful.” As well as wanting to entertain and make her readers happier than when they began the book, Kelk said “it’s also important for me to write the world as I wish to see it” and “to show a better world that can hopefully make a difference, even if it’s in a tiny way.”
We concluded our discussion by asking Kelk what her Christmas wish would be this year. As well as wanting to get rid of the cold she’s had forever, Kelk said she wants to cosy up to her cats with a book and a bottle of wine and “if Santa wants to throw in a Chanel handbag, [she] won’t be mad about it.”