I was delighted when we decided to make the latest Alfie instalment a Christmas book — it’s my favourite time of the year. I also love a cosy Christmas story, so being able to write one was something I was definitely excited about. Snow, tinsel, candles, trees and a nativity play— the latest book embraces all the wonderful things about Christmas. I also looked at other aspects of Christmas which make it less wonderful for some people— loss and loneliness— while celebrating the importance of community which is at the heart of all the Alfie books.
While a Christmas story naturally comes out at Christmas, it is written when the decorations have been cleared away, the tree is no more, and Jingle Bells a distant memory. It can be hard to conjure up the Christmas spirit when you have to pay your tax bill, try to do at least a few days of ‘dry January,’ and when everyone seems to be getting colds. But in a way that’s why I was so lucky. I managed to beat the bleak January blues by writing about another wonderful Christmas. The only thing better would have been a holiday to the Caribbean.
I used a couple of tricks to conjure up Christmas. As I have a ten year old, decorating the house would have been a step too far, but I did listen to Christmas music and watched a couple of Christmas films (Love Actually, of course and Elf) in January , February and March. We were also lucky with a bit of late snow this year, which did help me with inspiration. Editing my Christmas book was another story!
Alfie in the Snow sees Alfie embark on a festive adventure
We had the heatwave during my editing session. Trying to conjure up snowy, Christmas feelings whilst facing the hottest time in the UK that I can remember was a little bit of a stretch. I also did some of my editing sitting on a sun lounger next to an outdoor pool. I quite liked the irony of baking with factor 50 smothered on, whilst writing about snow.
I think the perfect Christmas story has to have heart. It has to be cosy, and wintry, twinkly and funny. It has to be about caring, sharing and the true meaning of Christmas — although I managed to sneak a cat into the nativity play, as well.
I think of Christmas as a time for reflection. Life might not be perfect but I always am thankful for what I have. I think of those who don’t have what we have and I do all I can to do my bit for my community. Alfie is a cat who cares and writing about him at Christmas has given me a bit of a shove in that direction. We’ve been collecting toys for families who struggle at this time of year, buying books for children who might not get one otherwise, and we’ve reached out to people who are on their own this Christmas, to include them with our celebrations. Alfie would be proud!