I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by SJV
‘Perfect escapism, love, laughter, snow, oodles of festive fun…and best of all, some much-needed hope. The perfect cure for the winter blues’ DEBBIE JOHNSON
‘A new Milly Johnson novel – a festive one at that – is always welcome’ WOMAN
‘Guaranteed to put you in the Christmas mood’ WOMAN & HOME
Here’s Milly herself, to tell you EVERYTHING you need to know…
Timing had a great part to play in the writing of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day because had I started writing it at this side of last Christmas, it probably would never have been written. It’s about six people holed up together who are stuck with each other’s company and can’t get away from it – a situation most of us have been in for the greater part of this year. I’m sure there will be a glut of books coming soon about people being pushed together, forced to spend time inside, and that’s why I wouldn’t have written one had I known we were going to be winded by the punch from Covid-19. I would have avoided it like the plague, excuse the pun. I’m glad I’ve had this idea in my head for too long to have ignored, because I think I’ve produced the best book of my life. Of course, as authors, we should be getting better with each book we write, but occasionally we produce something that makes us feel like a ‘proper writer’ and in my case, it’s this one.
Unlike my other books with a cast of thousands, this one has just six people, plus a couple of extras – should Steven Spielberg be reading this with his cogs already turning on casting. And it just has a very simple ‘set’ – as most of the action is in a bar and the kitchen off it. And, something I never realised until my copyeditor pointed out to me, it doesn’t even have a villain. And I never noticed. Often the best part of writing a book is the energy you put into a ‘nasty’ and yet I didn’t miss it at all.
This book has been sitting inside me for years and it needed to come out. The title started the grey cells spinning. What a killer song title, I’ve thought for a long time, I’m having that. And, in keeping, the storyline was originally going to be some sort of Brigadoon/Groundhog Day, where there is Christmas every day for those who live there – and that was the path I was on. But stories have a tendency to deviate from intention as you write, especially for us non-planners who haven’t a clue where the story is headed other than towards a spot of light in the very far distance. Sometimes another, stronger light starts shining, beckoning the plot to follow and that’s what happened in this case. Christmas every day, but not quite in the same way that I’d originally anticipated.
Apart from two characters who were set in stone from the off, I didn’t really know who else would be marooned with them. A married couple – Luke and Bridge – who have been fighting for years over the terms of their divorce, finally coming to an agreement and meeting to sign on the dotted line – that’s all I had. Then I had to fill in why they had been fighting for so long, what had made them both come to the end of the battle. And this, in a way, was helped by a local businessman winning an auction.
I put up a prize to name a character in my book to raise funds for our local Barnsley Youth Choir and the lot was won by a man who owns a scone factory – the largest in Europe I believe. They produce a million scones per year from their place in Barnsley. The winner wanted the character named after his dad. Even though ‘Roy Padgett’ is never seen, only in flashback, his character became so very important in guiding the plot. And scones had not too small a part either.
My next couple of characters were a boss and his PA – Jack and Mary. It made sense to make him the head of a scone factory – why not? At first ‘Roy’ was Jack’s dad, but he wasn’t emerging as a nice enough character. Juxta-positioned with Mary’s lovely dad, he was lacking. It made more sense for lovely Roy to be Mary’s father. Fathers were always going to be integral to this book, as I lost mine when I was writing it, their importance in our lives – negative and positive. Mary and Jack’s dads have a major influence on the people they have become.
As for the dynamics between Jack and Mary: a boss who isn’t able to see his PA other than a ‘piece of office equipment’, even though she’s been in love with him since she came to work for him. I thought that might be fun. Plus Mary and Bridge find common ground and Jack and Luke find a bond. And because of that scone factory inclusion, I got the whole of Luke and Bridge’s backstory – and their future. And why their marriage broke down. All because of the humble scone. Amazing what links the brain makes.
As for my third couple: possibly two of my favourite characters ever, a gay older couple: Charlie and Robin, bound for a swanky hotel in Scotland and having to take refuge in an old inn. A couple that shouldn’t work on paper as there are far too many differences between them. I think it’s these two, who have given my story a beating heart. Their banter, their love for each other, their love of life… I adored writing every word of their story.
#ChristmasEveryDay, as it shall be henceforth called, is about six people all forced together in a snowy inn on the North Yorkshire moors over the days of Christmas. They don’t want to be there, they have plans to be elsewhere, but their mini adventure ends up changing everything for them. They take something from each other, they give something to each other, friendships are formed, life might not go the way they’d planned, but that’s okay because what fate throws in their path is worth much more than they had. And if you’re a fan of Persuasion, by Jane Austen, then I hope you’re delighted by me bringing that into the mix. (And a bit of my personal history makes an appearance, thanks to a massive facial bruise sustained when someone threw a head of broccoli at me without even suspecting the damage it could do with a lucky aim). Also, it made me go out and buy a Buckaroo again. All will be explained in the book. My, how writing makes us all delve into our brain-caves and pull out our precious keepsake memories.
In short – it’s a book stuffed to the gills with merriment and Christmas and clean, healthy, fresh snowy air. It’s quite the different book to the one I had thought of originally, but all the better for it. I hope, as you read, it makes you appreciate what you have, or go and get something to appreciate in the new year. Life is here and now – so live the best version of it you can lay your hands on.
Love Milly xx
Here’s Clare Hey to tell you a little more…
There is a truth universally acknowledged by writers and editors of novels set at Christmas that the moment when you are pulling the final strands of the story together almost always seems to coincide with a heatwave. Publishing schedules and the weather conspire to make this moment the least Christmassy it could be, and so I am typing this while the temperature outside is 34 degrees …
But the pages of Milly Johnson’s fabulous new Christmas novel, I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day, are cooling me somewhat. And has there ever been a Christmas more needed than Christmas 2020? This year has been hard for everyone, and if you are anything like me you are counting down the days to this festive season – hopefully a time when we can be together with our families. In a year of uncertainty and heartbreak, we need the warmth and joy of a good book more than ever, and Milly’s new novel is the perfect tonic.
Set in a tiny hamlet deep in Yorkshire, it tells the story of six people who are all lost – in more ways than one. Each finds themselves drawn to a little pub – a place to wait out an all-encompassing snowstorm – and each will find themselves changed by their time in this place.
It’s an absolute treat of a novel and just what we all need this Christmas. So, get ready to light the fire and curl up with the new Milly this Christmas.
Love Clare xx
It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?
A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas.
One cosy inn.
A white Christmas to remember…