Christmas with Claire Sandy
I was born wanting to write a Christmas book. I am pro-Christmas; violently so. I would march on Downing Street if my right to obliterate my house with tinsel was taken away. I've always savoured Christmassy scenes in books, loving how the stories glow on the page. When I had the opportunity to bring out my own, I knew there must be turkey and snow and flirting; pinning down that special hyper-happiness of Christmas Day on the page was a thrill and I can only hope readers agree with me.
2.) How did you get into the festive spirit to write?
Hmm. Well, this is where the glow dims a bit. It would be wonderful if I'd written the book over Christmas, mince pie in one hand, wonky paper crown on my head, but books take months to write and this one came to life in late spring and early summer. I stuck a list of festive words above my laptop - random ones like tingle and snowballs and enchantment. Plus of course Baileys and indigestion. When in the thick of writing a scene, I was lost in a wintry wonderland, snow all around, the tip of my nose a Rudolph red and my soul serene. Then I'd look up and realise the sun was shining into my study, and flowers were brazenly growing in my window box. Usually I welcome these signs of renewal but right then all I could do was mourn the vanished whiff of sprouts.
3.) If you could get snowed in anywhere where would it be?
I'd get snowed in in a log cabin. I have no desire to go skiing - obviously I'd break both my legs and at least one of my husband's - but I do have a yen to snooze in front of an open fire as the snow banks up against the windows of a timber house. Being snowed in is as much a state of mind as anything else; I'd relish the opportunity to switch off. If it was impossible to go anywhere I'd have to be satisfied with what was on hand. It goes without saying that there's a full fridge in my snowed-in fantasies.
4.) How would you spend a day snowed in with your loved ones?
Hmm. Do all of my loved ones have to be there? I mean, I love them (hence their title) but that doesn't mean I want to be snowed in with them. I'd probably spend the day avoiding them...
5.) What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?
EVERYTHING. How can you make me choose? It's like asking if somebody has a favourite child. In no particular order my favourite Christmas things are: drinking champagne for breakfast; stockpiling talc; turkey sandwiches; cracker jokes being funny due to champagne for breakfast; chocolate as far as the eye can see; old films on the TV; gravy; Yule Log; a good row and a good making up.
6.) Do you have any Christmas traditions?
I have many, thank you for asking. Christmas Eve = smoked salmon for me and Him, after we put our daughter to bed. Even though He (and I don't mean God by the way, I mean my other half) doesn't like smoked salmon. Another must is my father-in-law coming round at midnight to dress up as Santa and bumble into my little girl's room with a sack of presents. Christmas isn't Christmas unless we eat stuffing made to my mum's recipe, and lay out clementines studded with cloves, and have at least one bout of fisticuffs over the remote control.
7.) Favourite Christmas food and drink?
From the twentieth December I move into a Quality Street tin and don't emerge until New Year's Day. As for a tipple, I'm all about fizz.
8.) Favourite Christmas movie?
If I'm wearing my Intelligent hat (it doesn't fit too well) I'll say, with a pious expression, "It's a Wonderful Life". If I'm wearing my far more comfortable Big Kid hat, I'll answer honestly with "Elf".
9.) Favourite Christmas song?
That's easy. I have no choice; I have to say Mistletoe and Wine. Yes, I know, Cliff sings it like a nun in a jock strap, but my father in law wrote it, so...
10.) What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas means to me what it means to you. It's a bright beacon in the midst of winter's gloom, a celebration. It's permission to be sentimental, to cry over the people you've lost, to feed the ones you have. It's the best and silliest time of the year.
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