Deborah MacGillivray

In January 2005, my agent informed me Dorchester Publishing was interested in my Contemporary Paranormal Romance novel, The Invasion of Falgannon Isle. Chris Keesler wanted the book―if I could get the length down. Well, I did and sent it back to him in early March. Then, there was nothing to do but wait. Hurry up and wait―a writer’s life. Due to another editor leaving, the publisher coming down with the flu, the Romantic Times convention and the Romance Writers of America convention, I had a long spell before going to contract in September 2005.

Instead of sitting and waiting for word, I spent my time doing shorts stories for ideas I might later turn into full novels. I get a LOT of ideas, and often fear losing that freshness of the muse. I do a quick short version, then I have the story safely tucked up for later. Constant writing also keeps the wordsmithing sharp. I never really intended to see them published as short stories. However, when it was decided that Highland Press would do two holiday anthologies, I knew I wanted to use two of the stories I’d done while waiting to go to contract on my novels.
I think Christmas always holds vivid memories for us. Of late, it seems harder to catch the purity of the holiday. Too commercial. I wanted to conjure that specialness of when Christmas wishes were for simple things. The charm that seems to be missing now. That childlike magic was the starting point of my two stories.

My novella in Christmas Wishes is All I want for Christmas is a Hula-hoop…and a Mother. Inspiration, as it often does for me, came from music. The soundtrack of my life, as they say. One of the most enduring memories of Christmas for me is the old Chipmunk song “Christmas Don’t Be Late”. In it, Alvin the Chipmunk keeps telling how he wants a Hula-hoop for Christmas. Ah, a much more innocent time.

I wanted to capture that feeling of a little girl dreaming of simple gifts, not any of the expensive, high-tech stuff kids would ask for today. Allison Challenger wants a Hula-hoop…and a mother. And maybe a pony and kitty, too. The precious five-year-old thinks her ballet teacher, Leslie Seaforth, is just perfect for her new mum. Determined, she sets out to give Santa a helping-hand by playing matchmaker for her sexy daddy, Keon. When a snowstorm strands Keon and Allison at the river home of Leslie―who just happens to have Alvin the Cat and Edward the Pony―Keon knows all he has to do is come up with a Hula-hoop.

For me, Christmas also brings back memories of ballet recitals and all the preparation, so I wanted to tap into that special excitement. In Holiday in the Heart, my inspiration came from music once again. This time Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”. I was not a big Elvis fan growing up, though my mum was. However, Leanne Burroughs, owner of Highland Press, is. So is our proofreader Monika Wolmarans. Naming the cat in the story Elvis is my gentle nod to their passion for the King.

I tend to have cats in my stories, so when I thought of Blue Christmas, I thought of a British Blue cat. Thus Elvis the cat was born. Blue Christmas Cat is a sequel to All I Want Is a Hula-hoop…and a Mother. Dara Seaforth, sister to Leslie, has been snowbound in a remote Scottish cabin for the Holidays. Elvis the Cat turns up on her door step on a snowy Christmas Eve, and with him brings Rhys St. John, and the possibility that love never dies―and on a Blue Christmas all things are possible.

I was raised with part of my life in Kentucky, part in England and Scotland, so both stories reflect that. One set on each side of the Pond, they drew on my love of cats, of the endless enchantment of love and all the beautiful times of Christmases Past. A wonderful two-book project, eleven stories and one novella in each, I was honoured to share this special gift of the heart with twenty-one other wonderful and talented ladies.