Today I welcome Gillian St Kevern to the blog . She’s answered some interview questions, sharing a bit about her holiday traditions. Make sure you check out her holiday story, The Ugliest Sweater.
The Ugliest Sweater
by Gillian St Kevern
Festive fun with a dash of spice, The Ugliest Sweater is a short story, written for anyone who has a loved a horrible piece of clothing more than they should. Published by NineStar Press.
Dan’s favourite festive sweater is so ugly, it’s cost him not one but three boyfriends and sent him back to his parents’ place for the third Christmas in a row. About to give up hope of ever having a Christmas date, Dan meets Jake, a hot guy with a rock and roll edge. Jake is infatuated with Dan’s sweater but vanishes before Dan can decide if Jake is for real or really in need of an eye-check. After all, no one has ever liked the sweater.
Dan’s sweater is rocketed to national attention, when Jake’s radio colleagues launch a hunt for the mystery man in the hideous jumper. Dan jumps at the chance to meet Jake again, and they hit it off in a big way, to the accompaniment of intimate gigs, exclusive clubs, and the paparazzi. Dan falls hard, but despite obvious mutual attraction, Jake refuses to take him back to his apartment. Is the relationship real – or a ratings stunt? After all, Jake has a reputation for cool that Dan, a lowly gym instructor, could never approach. Is a fondness for tacky Christmas clothing the only thing they have in common? Or does uber-cool Jake hide a Christmas secret of his own?
Interview – Holiday Spirit
I love Christmas and always look forward to it. What’s your favourite holiday of the year and what makes it so special?
Christmas! Growing up, my family moved around a lot. My parents made a point of celebrating Christmas with us, no matter where in the world we were. The point wasn’t to do the same things our family in New Zealand was doing, but to make the day special.
Do you and your family/friends have any special holiday traditions?
My Mum lives in rural New Zealand. Her Christmas tradition is the midnight carol service, Christmas Eve at the local church. There’s something really special about singing hymns that have that once a year only Christmas verse! Then we sleep in Christmas morning. Our little farming community has another really neat tradition: getting together Boxing Day for shared lunch and a game of cricket on the lawn of our local veterinarian. Everyone brings their Christmas leftovers and we have a picnic outside in the sun. My Dad’s side of the family prefer to spend Christmas on the beach. Usually there’s a BBQ involved and some of my Uncle’s wine. If the weather’s good, we’ll try to get out on the boat.
I’ve spent Christmases with everyone in my entire extended family, to alone in a Japanese staffroom! I’ve had a white Christmas in the U.K., a tropical Christmas at the Singapore Zoo, a traditional roast Christmas dinner in an Irish pub in Hiroshima, and a seven-course-meal at a French restaurant in Matsuyama. I’m proactive in making my Christmas happen, especially in Japan where it is a side note to the end of the school term. What makes Christmas really feel like Christmas to me is the food — but not necessarily the way you think! My Christmas gift is usually cooking, whether it is putting on something special for my family, or making brownies to share with the Japanese teachers at my school. It is that community feeling of sharing food that makes it feel like Christmas to me.
What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received?
A work assignment.
What’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
My grandmother! Last year, in mid-December, she had a heart attack following hip surgery. We were told that she would spend Christmas in hospital and started making plans for how we would visit. Grandma wasn’t having any of it. She rallied amazingly, and Christmas Eve, she walked unassisted into our living room and sat down in her favourite chair. Incidentally, my penname, St. Kevern, is a tribute to her. She’s an incredible woman!
If you could be granted one special gift for the world for Christmas, what would it be?
That everyone was magically aware when they were doing something regrettable. Like, you’d open your mouth and an alarm would blare, so you’d know ‘I shouldn’t say that.’
Christmas carols. Yes or no?
Do you watch Christmas movies? If so, what’s your favourite all time holiday movie?
The Santa Clause. As the child of divorced parents, I like how the movie dealt with divorce. Scott makes peace with the fact his wife has moved on AND — the really important thing here — he learns how to connect with Charlie, his son. Even if you normally can’t stand Tim Allen (I can’t), The Santa Clause is great. Also, Bernard, the grumpy Christmas elf, is amazing and I love him. And the movie features a horrible Christmas sweater!
I love reading stories set in the Christmas season and I especially like seeing stories set all over the world. I love seeing how others celebrate and I love reading about guys getting their special Christmas happy ever afters. Do you read holiday romances? If so, do you have a favourite you’d like to recommend to your readers?
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Yes, I’m cheating — it is not a holiday romance. It is a YA urban fantasy, written in the 1970s, about an eleven year old boy, Will, who discovers that he is the Last of the Old Ones, and about to be caught up in the timeless battle against the Dark. It is so beautifully done, Susan Cooper weaving in this paranormal fantasy and Arthurian legend amongst the story of an ordinary boy getting ready to celebrate Christmas in a busy, chaotic household. It is jam-packed with family tradition, the vivid setting of the Thames Valley, and Christmas, and it left such a powerful impression on me that ‘Good King Wenceslas’ will always make me think of Will.
What inspired your current holiday story?
Horrible fashion choices and a radio show. I currently live in Japan, where questionable clothing is very common! I met and fell in love with a hideous jumper, and well, the rest is history. It can also get a little lonely over here. I have a favourite radio show I used to listen to religiously, especially at Christmas. Hearing the morning team moan about Christmas shopping and share their plans brought my family in New Zealand and the holiday itself a little closer!
Tell us a little about the main characters in your holiday story.
All Dan wants for Christmas is a guy that will accept him — and his horrible sweater. He’s an ordinary bloke who works as a fitness instructor in London, but his weakness for tacky seasonal items has cost him three boyfriends. Still, Dan finds himself unable to part with his beloved, but incredibly ugly, sweater.
Jake is the coolest guy on radio. It’s a fact — his broadcasting career was built on it. But a chance Starbucks encounter with a terrible tacky jumper and its owner, has Jake smitten and in serious danger of loosing his cool.
I love sharing YouTube clips of holiday songs. If you have a favourite you want me to include, put the URL here.
I have three favourites! I suspect that someone else will beat me to Straight No Chaser, but here it is anyway:
Candlelight by the Maccabeats is a Hanukkah song, but having celebrated Christmas in many different countries (including Australia!), for me Christmas is a time to celebrate our many and varied cultures. Love and light are things we all share. Also, the song is just so catchy and happy making! I love it.
Remember when I talked about the Dark is Rising as my book rec? Carol of the Bells has nothing to do with the book except that Will is a choirboy and the story takes place at Christmas, but I absolutely love this song and it makes me think of the book.
About the Author
Gillian St. Kevern is the author of The Ugliest Sweater, Deep Magic, The Biggest Scoop and coming soon from NineStar Press, Thorns and Fangs, the first in a paranormal romance series. Originally from New Zealand, Gillian currently lives in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries. Her writing is a celebration of the diverse people she meets.
As a chronic traveller, Gillian is more interested in journeys than endings, with characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride.
Author social media links