Hang your mistletoe and stir your pudding. Today we welcome Leisure author Emily Bryan who will tell us about the Christmas Anthology she shares with fellow authors, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson. Emily is also offering to give away one of her backlist books. Read on and welcome Emily.
“Great writing and research skills, as well as her ability to weave a good old-fashioned story with heft, make her an author to watch.”~Michelle Buonfiglio, RomanceBuyTheBook
1) Tell us about A Christmas Ball and your story in it!
Thanks so much for having me here at Risky Regencies!
A Christmas Ball is a collection of three Regency-set Christmas stories from USA Today Bestseller Jennifer Ashley, Alissa Johnson and me. Since I never like to do the expected, my heroine in My Lady Below Stairs is a scullery maid. Jane Tate is a dead ringer for her well-born half-sister, so when Lady Sybil runs off with an Italian portrait painter, Jane is called in to pose as Sybil long enough to accept an arranged marriage proposal at the Christmas Ball. Needless to say, Ian Michael, the well-muscled head groom who loves Jane, makes plans to crash the party himself. It was great fun to write!
2) How do the three stories fit together? How did this anthology come about? How are the tales connected?
A Christmas Ball is the brain-child of our fabulous editor, Leah Hultenschmidt, at Dorchester Publishing. She conceived a holiday anthology where the stories are united solely by setting and time. The date is December 19, 1822 (not technically Regency for you purists out there, since Prinny has been on the throne for two years, but it’s before the Victorian era kicks off in 1837.) The characters in all three of our novellas attend the same Christmas ball at Lord and Lady Hartwell’s elegant London home. We had to agree on the floor plan of the mansion and certain details about the ball, but otherwise, we were given complete autonomy in writing our stories. Jennifer used her novella as a chance to revisit her Nvengaria paranormal Regency world and Alissa penned a delightful Darcy-esque hero in hers.
3) Did you come across any interesting research on historical Christmases?
Oh, yes! First of all, most of the way we celebrate Christmas now is directly linked to Victorian traditions. For example, there were no Christmas trees in England in 1822. That custom was imported from Germany after Queen Victoria married her German cousin. But greenery was used for decoration, most specifically a “kissing bough.” This was an arrangement of ivy (to symbolize women), holly (whose prickly leaves remind us of men!) and of course mistletoe (still used to steal kisses.) During the Regency era, mistletoe was a limited time offer. For each kiss, the man was supposed to pluck one of the berries. When the berries were all gone, so were the free kisses.
4) What are your own favorite holiday traditions?
Being with family is the most important tradition for us, which means we’ve spent more Christmases in airports and on the road than I care to count. But once we’re all together, before we open our presents, my dad always reads the Christmas story from the Bible, the Luke 2 passage. Any time I read that scripture to myself, I hear my dad’s voice in my head.
5) What is next for you?
I just finished Stroke of Genius (coming June 2010). I adore Crispin Hawke, my hero for this story. He’s a brilliant, but cynical artist who’s so handsome my heroine compares him to a total eclipse. Dangerous to look upon.
Crispin is engaged to sculpt Grace’s hands and decides to help Grace bag a titled husband. But when he starts falling for her himself, the games are just beginning.
I’m in that limbo-land of being between books at present. Just listening to my mental cast of characters and deciding whose story needs telling next. It’s really pretty exciting when a new book starts taking shape.
Another thing I’m excited about now is my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST. Readers who subscribe to my newsletter and enter this contest may win a $100 B & N gift card! So please pop over and enter today. And I’d like to give away a choice from my backlist to someone who leaves a comment or question here today.
To get the conversation started: What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? It can be historic or contemporary.
Pak Karamu visiting your blog
Congrats on the new release. We like to open our presents at midnight instead of Christmas morning.
Hi Diane & Emily 🙂
Thank you for sharing here today with this excellent interview.
All the best,
PS – Emily Bryan is on Twitter, you can Follow her: @EmilyBryan
congrats on the new release. this book sounds wonderful. We always put up our tree on the friday after thanksgiving and open presents from santa on christmas morning.
cookies for santa:)
Emily, it is so nice to have you here. Amanda has a busy day today so I posted the blog for her.
I love the concept of the anthology-all happening at the Christmas Ball!
One thing that’s extremely cool about this anthology is that one of the stories is paranormal. It gives me the shivers to think of the characters in two of the stories being completely heedless of the paranormal world in their midst. I’m really looking forward to reading this anthology!
I think the Christmas tree is my favorite tradition. Decorating it was such fun during my childhood. And then there are butter tarts — a Canadian specialty that we always had at Christmas. I’ve started making them again (regardless of the season) because I love them so much.
Don’t put me in the draw for the backlist book. I just won one of Emily’s backlist – Distracting the Duchess, and the heroine certainly looks distracted on the cover, LOL.
Hello Pak. Thanks for stopping by.
Jane–We typically do the gifts on Christmas Eve, stockings Christmas morning!
Hey RK! Yes, I confess. I love to tweet! Thanks for feeding the addiction.
Sarabelle–I too like to get the tree up right after Thanksgiving. The Christmas season is always too short!
JCP–My DH would second that! He loves homemade cookies.
Diane–Thanks so much! Yet another reason why I love all the Risky authors.
Barb–I was surprised at the diversity our premise generated, but I think the anthology is all the richer for it. Looking forward to your visit on my blog on October 19th!
Good afternoon Emily!
I think my favorite tradition is baking Christmas cookies, why is it they are always so much better at Christmas?
I would have to agree that the tree and the togetherness it inspires through decorating and gift-giving is one of my favorite traditions.
I can’t wait to read the anthology!
As you know Emily I love all of your boks and highly recommend them. I can’t wait for the new one. If anyone out there hasn’t got the Christmas Ball one go get all the suthors did great!!
My favourite Christmas tradition is all the Christmas visiting.
Jane–I think Christmas cookies are made with more love. That makes them better.
Sarah–Sometimes, the togetherness takes a toll. We’ll be flying on Christmas Day this year to get together with family. It’ll be worth it.
Alisha–Bless your heart! Thanks so much for those kind words.
Chey–Christmas visiting would be easier if we didn’t have to deal with unpredictable weather. Since I totalled a car in an ice storm a couple years ago, I’m a complete chicken about winter travel. But I’ll do it to see family.
Speaking of historical customs, I ran across an odd one back when I was writing Viking romances as Diana Groe. It has to do with Jul. Before Christians incorporated a Yule log in their revels, the Northmen celebrated the longest night of the year with feasting, drunkeness and a terrified nightwatch. They believed the veil between the worlds was thinnest on the winter soltice and set out food and drink to appease any malevolent ghosts who might come calling.
And kept their battle axes close by.
I love the idea of picking the berries off the ivy/holly/mistletoe and then there being no more free kisses.
My favorite holiday tradition is something we do in my family and I don’t know if anyone else does it. We have several creche sets and when we set them up each year we hide each of the baby Jesuses because Jesus isn’t around until December 25 (I know not really his birthday, but still….) Then on Christmas day each one of the kids (four of us) searches for the baby Jesuses.
I’m very intrigued by you artist novel that is do out. I must remember to look for it. Will it be available as an e-book? I own a Kindle and enjoy reading on it. I love Regencies that include artists. The second Regency I read was by Amanda McCabe and had an artist. She also just sent me an amazing book she wrote with art theft, which is another favorite topic.
Good luck in your future endeavors.
Thanks for sharing, Jane! Something we used to do with our nativity scenes is start the wise men out in another room. Each day they’d move closer to the main display (on different shelves and tabletops) until they finally arrived at the manger on Christmas (which of course, isn’t scriptural. It may actually have taken them a couple years to get there and Jesus would have been a toddler!) But it gave my kids the idea that the wise men “came from afar.”
I’m glad STROKE OF GENIUS intrigues you. I love my artist hero, Crispin Hawke. He was wonderful fun to write. It’ll be out June 2010, but I’ll be teasing you with more of it before then!
We have a ton of Christmas traditions that make me smile. Always opening presents on Christmas Eve…Making silly faces at the camera…and baking sugar cookies. 🙂 Great great memories!
My birthday is on Christmas Eve…so I guess my most cherished memories of Christmas are of having birthday cake and candles as well as celebrating Christmas. During Christmas it seems as if the whole world celebrates with me 🙂
lyoness2009 AT hot mail **dot** COM
Oh, squeee – two new titles for my wish list! I can’t wait to read A Christmas Ball. He, he – I even added it to my Shelfari page as I was reading the blurb.
Let’s see…Christmas traditions… we drag out all the old home videos and laugh until we cry! Oh – my FAVORITE part of Christmas is spending the night at my parents’ and my sister and I waiting until they go to bed so we can do our last-minute wrapping. The problem we never seem to avoid is the lack of wrapping paper in the house. We have resorted to everything from newspapers to a Hawaiian sarong. Needless to say, everyone gets a laugh the next morning when they see our…unique creation under the tree 🙂
We have a family dinner and eat ham and have pumpkin pie.
Rachie–My DH would second that cookie bit! He feels loved when there are cookies coming out of the oven.
Lyoness–My nephew’s BDay is Dec 26th, so my sister works hard to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
My DH’s Bday frequently falls on Labor Day, so he always tells his team he’s giving them his birthday off!
Amber–Sounds like you’re creative and fun-loving! A Hawaiian sarong? Really?
Lindseye–We’re turkey dinner eaters here, but my grandmas used to arrange between themselves that one would fix ham and the other a bird, so we wouldn’t have 2 turkey dinners to sit down to on the same day.
Thanks again, Amanda and Diane and all the Risky authors for having me here! Please let me know when I can return the favor and host you on my blog
My winner today is: Amber!
Please contact me through http://www.emilybryan.com with your choice from my books and your mailing info.
Everyone else, please be sure you enter my Merry Christmas Ball Contest! for your chance to win a $100 B&N gift card!