The leaves are changing already. Kids are going back to school. Before you know it, boom!, the winter holidays are upon us. Today's guest, Daphne Benedis-Grab, definitely has a little Christmas in her heart. She shares it with readers in her upcoming middle-grade book, The Angel Tree. Please pass the gingerbread.
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Write what you love. It’s classic fiction writing advice, advice I’ve been given and given to others countlesstimes. And though it may be cliché, I think it’s some of the best writing wisdom there is. A case in point, my upcoming book, The Angel Tree. This book is bursting with things I am passionate about, that I adore thinking and thus writing about, and it made every step of the very challenging process of writing and editing a manuscript so much easier, because every time I went back to the story I was diving back into things I love. Such as:
Christmas, of course! I’ve been nuts about Christmas since I was little. Yes, the gifts are a part of it, a lovely part, but they really aren’t the point. To me it’s the feeling of Christmas, the spirit as it were, and all the ways, big and little, we honor it. For our family it starts with the tree, picking it out, setting it up and then the ritual of decorating it with ornaments bought and made over the years, each with its own story and memory. Then there’s the music- I have a crazy big collection of Christmas carols and they bring me such joy. There are the parties, friends coming together and catching up- that is such fun. And then there are Christmas movies and TV shows, like Elf and Rudolph, that are magic each and every year. Another essential part of Christmas? The food. Which is another thing I’m passionate about so it gets its own section.
Years ago friends started telling me that reading my manuscripts made them hungry. I delight in describing food I love. Usually that means sweet things- in The Angel Tree one of my favorite scenes involves fresh cinnamon doughnuts. But I have almost as much fun detailing a really rich lasagna or a fresh peach. Food is a pleasure to eat and it is a pleasure to write about.
There are a lot of other things I loved writing about in The Angel Tree- quirks certain characters have that resonate for me, the dog, Valentine- I love animals and love writing about them! But bigger than that is friendship and people overcoming hardship. We all have journeys in our lives, times when we struggle and those moments where we connect deeply with others. Creating those moments for characters is incredibly satisfying; challenging but worth it when an arc holds together in a meaningful way from start to finish.
So when people ask, I will keep giving them the same advice: write what you love. Yes it might be cliché but the thing about this cliché? It works!
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Learn more about Daphne Benedis-Grab on her website.