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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, members of The Christmas Collective share the creative process that went into their new anthology book, The Mistletoe Mixtape.
Written by The Christmas Collective
The Christmas Collective
In their first year, hot off the heels of being shortlisted for the Christmas Love Story Competition hosted by Penguin Michael Joseph in 2020/2021, The Christmas Collective were focused on continuing the community which had sprouted from the competition. A Facebook group brought together many of the shortlisted entrants, and allowed a space for the writers to share their angst while they awaited news of the winner. Though they could have gone their separate ways after the announcement, it was clear that some had an appetite to continue the close-knit group and turn their stories into something more than shortlisted titles.
More Than Mistletoe
In July 2021, twelve authors came together from that group and set about compiling their stories into their debut anthology, More than Mistletoe, which was published in November 2021. The Collective resumed work in February 2022, with three new members (who had also been shortlisted in the competition), to replace three who took a break from the project.
The Mistletoe Mixtape
The Mistletoe Mixtape is the follow up to the 2021 project. As with the first anthology, this work is a diverse collection of short stories, ranging broadly across the Christmas Romance genre, including some fantasy, protagonists of all ages and stages in life and of course, a huge dollop of festive feels.
Jenny Bromham’s A Winter’s Tale starts the anthology, giving readers “life after love” vibes, showcasing the importance of friendship – and luxury mince pies – regardless of how late in life you have to start over.
White Christmas by Marianne Calver follows, setting a love story with a hint of snow against an Italian Christmas, where protagonist Bianca gets some hard truths, familial surprises and faces the return of an unexpected face.
In Sausage Rolls for Everyone by Bláithín O’Reilly Murphy, a family death, a forbidden kiss, and years spent running away from her roots all collide when Lynsey must return to Ireland and face her past.
Carol of the Bells by Karl King brings readers to the tower of Big Ben, where holding time at Christmas allows a decade of friendship to blossom into romance.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but in Cici Maxwell’s Twelve Days of Christmas, jeweller Gemma risks losing what’s really important in life when she takes love for granted.
At the halfway mark, Hayley-Jenifer Brennan’s Under the Mistletoe takes readers to South Korea, where Paige must decide whether to give Jihoon, desperate to be seen as anything but just the son of a CEO, a second chance after he makes a bad first impression.
Rural Wales is the next destination in Dominick the Donkey by Donna Gowland, where a city girl meets a farmer boy, and a living nativity with an unruly donkey provides a humorous turn of events.
The bizarreness continues with S. L. Robinson’s Walking in a Winter Wonderland, where Christmas and fantasy collide, transporting readers to a magical world where romance is stubbornly resisted by the unlucky-in-love protagonist.
Sarah Shard’s Stay Another Day is an apt sentiment for the setting of cosy Christmas Village, Cringleton, where author Holly Hope seeks out inspiration for her next novel – but finds so much more.
Wrapped in Red by Joe Burkett is a tale of missed opportunity revisited for lovelorn busker, Charlie, who hopes his heart can learn to sing again with the arrival of Jack in his life.
The penultimate tale, Santa Baby by Helen Hawkins, shows how even the iciest heart can be thawed by the magic of family, a Christmas wish and the face behind a magnificent Santa beard.
Last but not least, Michelle Harris’s Fairytale of New York inspires hope in the City of Dreams, where heartbreak is not all as it seems and true love gets a second chance among the skyscrapers.
For The Christmas Collective’s first project, the group were up against an intense deadline to hit the market before Christmas. They worked tirelessly from their formation in July to publication in November, researching and learning everything involved in the production of a book, while also finessing their stories. This year, they benefitted from a much earlier start in February, which gave them more time to decide on a more specific direction of this anthology: choosing to base each story around a Christmas song, indulging in musical nostalgia and the memory of making mixtapes. The earlier start has also allowed publication to move forward giving them more time to enjoy the magic of Christmas.
The Mistletoe Mixtape, like its predecessor, has been planned and written with virtually no “IRL” contact between the authors. Facebook video calls and a strong online presence in private groups has allowed all members to contribute to the process – from creation of the material to social media and PR strategy and all the boring administrative work that is crucial to keep the wheel turning.
The Collective is a showcase of team spirit – authors are situated across the U.K., Ireland, Madrid and even Korea – with each member fully committed to the project. As Indie Authors, doing everything from book cover design to PR packs, it is vital that members of the Collective aren’t shy about pulling their proverbial weight.
More To Write
Going forward, the group hope to rebrand and expand out of the Christmas Romance niche into more varied anthologies, in the meantime, supporting those within the group who are also planning on releasing individual works.
Find more from The Christmas Collective now:
The Mistletoe Mixtape is currently available on Amazon (paperback and hardback) and KDP Unlimited.
The Mistletoe Mixtape: http://mybook.to/themistletoemixtape
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