Current Reading Mood: Urban Fantasy
Quote of the day: “I’d have been dead a long time ago if not for my friends, one of whom had just jumped off the cliff after me.
I’d have been a lot more appreciative if he hadn’t pushed me first." Cassandra Palmer ― Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance
In the last 13 years, New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries has penned 20 Regency romances, three novellas, and three short stories—becoming a regular on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and winning more than a dozen industry awards in the process.
New Orleans-born and Thailand-reared, Jeffries attributes her success to listening to what peers, her publisher, and her own common sense told her she should be writing: “I write what I enjoy reading: lighter, sexier historical romances, with more dialogue and more sensuality.”
Writing about 19th-century English life comes naturally for Jeffries. Not only is she a lifelong Jane Austen fan, but she has a doctorate in English lit from Tulane and a specialty in Early Modern British literature. Yet the impetus for her stories, Jeffries says, is always “what if”—not what if her hero likes this or that, but what if this happened and this happened… what would it do to a person?
And she writes, she says, because “I can’t not write… I have stories in my head, and I have to get them out.”
Today, the novelist has more than 5 million Sabrina Jeffries books in print. She writes at her home in Cary, NC, where she lives with husband, Rene, and their son, Nick. When not answering e-mails as she logs miles on her treadmill or doing jigsaw puzzles (“my reward for finishing a book”), Jeffries can be found championing the cause of autistic children in the name of her son.
I love Christmas stories. You may know that I have a Christmas hardcover, ’Twas the Night after Christmas, coming out October 30th, but you might not realize that this is actually my second Christmas tale. Through the years of researching the holiday in the Regency period I’ve stumbled across a lot of strange Christmas customs, especially in Great Britain.
The Welsh have one involving a dead horse’s head. I kid you not (the Mafia would have loved this one). It’s called the Mari Lwyd, and it involves carrying around a horse’s skull on a stick dressed in a sheet. Sort of like caroling. Only with a horse’s skull.
Then there’s the fun game of snapdragon, where you snatch raisins from a bowl of burning brandy. The winner gets, well, nothing except burned fingers, but it’s fun! Really! I used it in my Christmas novella, “When Sparks Fly” from Snowy Night with a Stranger, along with the more familiar custom of burning a Yule log.
Morris dancing is still popular throughout Great Britain, too. Gentlemen dance intricate patterns to weird music while waving handkerchiefs and possibly swords. I would sure love to see that.
My new novel has more traditional customs in it, but I did make a discovery of something called “ginger nuts” or “gingerbread nuts,” which I’d never heard of. They’re little round gingerbread cookies that were often sold in the streets of London (imagine the jokes that came about from calls of “Ginger Nuts! Ginger Nuts for sale!”). What makes them a bit different from regular gingerbread is they include caraway seeds. Or they did during the Regency, anyway.
My family had a less bizarre Christmas tradition, though it WAS weird. My dad always made pretzels on Christmas Eve. You know, the kind they sell in the mall–the bread kind. I don’t even remember why or how it started. Then there was the year Dad made chocolate ones, and they looked, um, exactly like turds. Rather unappetizing. He never did that again. But the pretzel-making tradition has stayed in our family for years.
So what about you? Any weird Christmas traditions in your area? Any odd ones practiced by your family? Or are you all just traditional folks at Christmas? Leave a comment for a chance to win an advance reading copy of my November Christmas hardcover, ‘Twas the Night After Christmas.
To check out my ARC review of `Twas the Night After Christmas, click HERE.