“Reflect upon your present blessings–of which every man has many–not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”–Charles Dickens
Max Vos has blogged about his creative process. He says he starts with the seed of a story, then looks for character inspiration. Next he fleshes out the characters and lets them pretty much tell him the story they want written. In this, Max gives all the credit for his great writing to the characters, while not acknowledging his own wonderful talent.
This method produces a much more free-flowing, stream of consciousness style of writing. It doesn’t seem to be forced into the pre-conceived outline many authors work with. The characters’ telling of the story is Max’s way of allowing his imagination to flow directly on to the page through his fingers. It makes for a comfortable feeling while reading his work. Max doesn’t take enough credit for his talent. Regardless of whether or not he feels the characters control the story, those characters and their stories come from his brain, his heart and his gut. He is just allowing them to get to our e-readers in the most direct way possible.
A Christmas Memory is no different. I literally did not want to put it down. I carried my Kindle around with me while I burnt dinner. As soon as I started reading about Adam & J.J., I felt like I had known them forever. I was comfortable with them and couldn’t wait for them to make their Christmas memories.
J.J. is Jonathan Nathaniel Jones, a first year history teacher at the high school where Adam Stewart Sutton is the star football coach. They are both closeted at work. J.J. grew up essentially without parents and has no, not one, good Christmas memory. When lunch room talk turns inevitably to everyone’s Christmas plans and it comes out that J.J. doesn’t have any, Coach comes to the rescue.
While J.J. thinks Coach is an extremely hot bear of a man with a Tom Selleck mustache, he also finds him to be a bit too rough and a little annoying. J.J. winds up being roped in to helping Coach decorate his house for Christmas. It is during this day that they exchange actual names instead of Coach and Champ. J.J. also shows Adam just how it feels when he slaps J.J. on the back! The house decorating leads to a tune up of J.J.’s car the next day, which leads to other things…
These men are so sweet and so lovable that you want them to be happy from the first time you read about their interaction. The way they each so want to give the other a Merry Christmas and a special Christmas memory brings to mind your own memories, maybe the first time you had Christmas with the one you loved or the first time you had a child at Christmas. Unpleasant Christmas memories may be unearthed as well, but are quickly forgotten in the glow of Adam and J.J.’s fledgling relationship.
This is a story I will pull out and re-read every Christmas season to put me in the mood for the holiday. Because what else is Christmas about if not love?