Tuesday, December 16, 2014

An Act of Charity

The holidays. They're either viewed as the sweet, soaring hymns of the year or as a time of jarring, depressing discord. Illuminated weeks of giving, all charity and generosity, or interminable days of crass commercialism. They're festive and pretty, or tacky and silly.

I wondered if there might be a really wonderful romance in all this dissonance. Of course, the typical tune would be that of the Grinch or Scrooge: a protagonist, cold and grumpy, who learns the true meaning of Christmas. It occurred to me, however, that the opposite might make for a more interesting tale.

What if our protagonist was not the Grinch, but a kind, generous, loving young woman who adored the holidays--even the silly parts like sappy movies and an over-abundance of poinsettias. And all that music. Everything about her would be the holidays. Even her name: Noel.

Noel, the music teacher, a living Christmas angel. And she would have her faith tested by....

Hm. Would one Grinch be enough to make her doubt? I hardly thought so. After all, it took three ghosts to transform Scrooge. Nothing less would make Noel waver. And giving her three challengers instead of one would allow me to explore the wide range of "anti-holiday" views. Maybe one of those in opposition to her isn't a holiday "hater." He just doesn't "get" those who, like Noel, go overboard with lights and trees and cards. Our heroine's boyfriend, say. Roland. He finds her infatuation with the holidays charming, but it totally mystifies him. He would be the baritone.

Then there would have to be the real hater, the bass note to Noel's soprano. A sceptic who sees the holidays and everything about them as completely bogus. He would roll his eyes and make sarcastic comments about her snowman-themed mugs and over-generous gift giving. Maybe he works for her and thinks it his job to keep her from being a gullible fool? Her accountant? Benjamin. Oh, yes, I could see Benjamin looking down his nose at Noel's reindeer cookies.

Last...Well, last would have to be someone closest to her position, an irresistible tenor. Noel might not be willing to take a leap from her faith, but she might go a note down. If doing so was tempting enough. An old crush come back into her life? One working for a charity who seems like he could learn to love the holidays as much as her? Hank. Handsome, devil-may-care Hank.

And so came about my Christmas Carol: An Act of Charity. A sparkling sugar romance about Noel, who believes the holidays bring the world into her frequency, one of charity and kindness. And then, forced to doubt this, she must rediscover the music she's lost. It was a wonderful tale to write, and a very challenging one as well. With a Grinch the transformation is fairly direct: doubter to believer, low to high. But I had to find a way to move this tune from high to low to silence and then...to where? If the believer becomes a doubter, how do you get them back? Can you? Would you even want to?

I found the answers as I wrote it, and an ending that I felt rang true. I hope it will do as much for you, hitting all the right notes and leaving you with a feeling of seasonal harmony. It is my gift of the season to all romance-loving readers.

Enjoy & Very Happy Holidays,
Julian Keys

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