An Antidote to Christmas Schmaltz?

Town Mouse does climbing SantasA few years ago, we featured polar bears (left) in our Christmas blog. They were fun, in shop windows and on market stalls. I thought they were almost as good as our burglarious santas.

Christmas polar bears in NovemberBut this year, even though we were nowhere near the end of November, the polar bears had grown. I found nine-foot high bears on the pavement in Piccadilly outside the Park Lane Hotel (shown left and below).

They were eye-catching, certainly, but in the middle of November?

What do we poor punters have to do to be spared Christmas adverts and — crucially — Christmas jingles for weeks and weeks in the run-up to the great day?

Christmas polar bears need an antidoteWhat have we done to have White Christmas inflicted on us over and over again? Never mind the people who work in the shops that have Christmas jingles on a never-ending loop. Possibly a recipe for madness?

I’m thinking of starting a petition to ban all mentions of Christmas — especially adverts and cloying Christmas music — in all public places before the 1st of December. Perhaps even before the 21st of December 😉 Let me know if you want to sign up!

The Antidote to Christmas — how it began

sweetness needs an antidote, even honeyThe Libertà hive likes Christmas but we prefer it to be at the end of December, not starting in November, or even earlier. What’s more, we’d noticed that there are loads of Christmas offerings, including stories, that are so twee and sugary they make our teeth ache.

We decided we needed an antidote.

And we thought that you, dear readers, might welcome an antidote as well.

twee Victorian Christmas needs an antidote?So we set ourselves a challenge — to write stories that featured characters who hated Christmas. And, for good measure, to write stories out of our normal comfort zones.

So Sophie, normally a writer of contemporary romance, decided to write romantic suspense — a thriller, for Christmas haters. While Joanna, who normally writes Regency romances, would focus on a contemporary tale, with a timeslip to Victoriana, which she’s never ventured into before. Well, why not?

Got to keep the authors on their toes, no? 😉

The result? I Hate Christmas, the two-book box set

It was huge fun. As well as a huge challenge, for both of us. But the resulting box set is here:

We had intended to write novellas but… Our stories demanded to be longer and fuller. So the box set now contains two full-length stories, both totally new.

The box set is NOW available to at your local Amazon for only £2.99 / $3.99 / €3.99

I Hate Christmas — blurb

Christmas is all sugar and spice? Sweetness and light?
Some people hate Christmas. And some people just want to run away and hide until it’s all over…

Two new full-length stories from favourite authors to provide an antidote to Christmas schmaltz

One Christmas Tree To Go

cover of One Christmas Tree To Go by Joanna MaitlandGabriel Bliss doesn’t do Christmas, though selling Christmas trees helps to keep his struggling nursery business afloat. Lucy, his titled landlord’s daughter, would help him if he’d let her, but bitter experience has taught Gabe never to trust rich employers.
Will a strange encounter with a Victorian image change his mind about his place in the world?

Joanna Maitland, Regency romance writer, dips her toes into different times.

I Hate Christmas

A week before Christmas and Jet Delaney is dreading it. But escorting a billionaire’s offspring to Madrid steps up her troubles to a whole new level of ghastly: a terrified teen to protect, a mad burglary to resolve, even kidnapping. Will she ever make it home?
Axel, the handsome stranger who makes her laugh, is keen to help. But whose side is he on?

Sophie Weston, contemporary romance writer, ventures into thrillers.


Joanna Maitland, author

Sophie Weston AuthorWith best wishes for a peaceful and non-sugary Christmas


Joanna and Sophie

PS: For those who may be wondering… Yes, that’s a Maine Coon on the cover and no, it’s not Sophie’s beloved TK. Pity, eh?

16 thoughts on “An Antidote to Christmas Schmaltz?

  1. rolandclarke

    Real Christmas celebrations have become a distant childhood memory – I’m 66 and I’ve just survived my fourth Thanksgiving.

    So, I say ‘humbug – a bag of poison ones,’ (Clever box-set).

    1. Sophie

      I know what you mean, Roland. We started making paper chains and decorating twigs with bits of twinkly stuff (carefully washed coloured milk bottle tops and gold or silver paper off bars of chocolate) in the middle of December. It was a lot of fun. Not least because the paper chains used to give out regularly. (I can still taste the glue.) My father was the only one allowed to go up the ladder, so we had to wait for him to come home before we broke out the sellotape. Great bonding experience.

  2. Liz

    I’m in Paris this weekend and I have to say it’s all rather more restrained elegance here. The Christmas fair in the Tuileries was, admittedly, a noisy crush, but it was more about eating and drinking and having fun than any I’ve been to before. In the streets the decorations are minimal and I haven’t heard a Christmas song since I’ve been here.

    1. Sophie

      Sounds like heaven – elegance and wonderful crusty French flutes too! have a lovely time, Liz.

    2. Joanna Post author

      Unfortunately we don’t do either restrained or elegant here. Mostly cloying and nauseating, in my view. Sounds like your trip to Paris was a great move, Liz. Enjoy yourself.

  3. Elizabeth Bailey

    My Christmas bugbear is the plethora of ridiculous and incomprehensible perfume ads that pop up this time of year. Still deciding which of them takes the biscuit for patronising nonsense. Your box set sounds like the perfect antidote.

    1. Sophie

      Yes, I really hate the perfume ads, Liz. They’re just spin-off fashion things. Look at what I’m wearing, not share my scent landscape. And I really, really love perfume. It can actually change my mood. Bah! Humbug!

    2. Joanna Post author

      In our house, we vie to be first to see that a new (to us) ad is for perfume. So easy to tell, isn’t it? And such absolute nonsense, all of them. The products, of course, are all packaging and marketing. Doubt the actual contents cost very much at all. Enjoy our antidote, Liz. And I’ve now reinstated the missing buy link from the blog. I did put it in, but somehow it vanished when I wasn’t looking. Eaten by angry polar bears, maybe 😉

  4. lesley2cats

    I’ll sign up. And thanks for the boxset! I noticed this year that the Christmas TV advertising actually started on November 5th, but of course, the supermarket aisles had been crowded for a couple of months by then. Devalues the currency. in my opinion.

    1. Sophie

      Great, Lesley. Hope you enjoy the stories.

      I was really disappointed when my local Marks and Sparks put up sparkly silver lifeboat rings in the middle of October. Mind you, the chap in front of me made me laugh when he said to his partner, “Oh look, they’ve got Christmas donuts already.” Well, we were in the food hall.

    2. Joanna Post author

      The currency ain’t worth nuffink, these days, Lesley, is it? As I said to Liz, I’ve now reinstated the Buy link. Sorry for the mistake.

  5. Sarah Mallory

    Brilliant idea, to release an alternative Christmas box-set, well done, ladies! On my recent tour of the south of England the big shops were already full of Christmas “stuff”. Where we live in the remote Scottish Highlands, it feels more muted – we have had one or two Christmas Markets, but when we drive into our local town the only lights reflected in the waters of the loch are the street lights – quite magical enough, thank you, and they last all through the dark months 🙂

    1. Joanna Post author

      Sounds as though your neck of the woods is nearer to Liz’s restrained elegance, Sarah. Hang on to the magic. Down here, it’s long gone, sadly.

  6. janegordoncumming

    I once tried to sell ‘A Proper Family Christmas’ from a stall at a Christmas Fair (not recommended) by saying ‘This is a book for everyone who hates Christmas’. But a lady flounced by saying ‘Actually I like Christmas’. – Apparently there are people out there.

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