The Tasting Table | Christmas Romance

In Guest Articles, Interview by RWA Blog CoordinatorLeave a Comment

Mistletoe, presents, sumptuous food, decorations, snow… or heat. Christmas memories are often wonderful, though sometimes sad or depressing. We want everyone to be happy on this day, yet some aren’t. Which makes for some amazing story ideas!

I’ve just finished writing my first Christmas novella, and whilst I wrote, I wondered what prompted others authors to write in this very special sub-genre. So, I invited three fantastic festive writers to join me at the Table… and now hope you will come along as well as we sample Christmas cake, champagne, and some heart-warming stories.

Please welcome Susanne Bellamy, Catherine Bilson (also writing as Caitlyn Lynch), and Louise Reynolds. Each has provided an excerpt of their writing so do have a peek, and also check out their websites and social media.  

Susanne Bellamy, Catherine Bilson and Louise Reynolds

Q1. Apart from being set around Christmas, what makes a Christmas Romance special?

SUSANNE: The season of Christmas often highlights reconnecting with family, or the sadness of missing family from our lives. It is about giving to others, and sharing. And there is a magic about this time of year that carries with it memories of childhood and loved ones.

CATHERINE/CAITLYN: I think it’s that feeling of warmth, of family, which always surrounds Christmas for me. Of course, some people don’t have good Christmas memories, but I think the vast majority of us do, at least of childhood days, and a good Christmas Romance gives us that nostalgic warmth as well as the happily ever after every romance must have, of course!

LOUISE: Falling in love is always special but there’s something about finding love at Christmas that elevates the experience, wrapping it in a big, red gift bow. For some readers, the sort of Christmas we create in our books doesn’t exist and the ability to take that reader into a world of love, acceptance, friendship and good times is a writer’s gift.

For a writer, it’s an opportunity to craft a shorter story that shoe-horns beautifully into an existing series, allowing the reader to revisit loved characters.

Q2. Tell us about challenges you encounter writing within the Christmas theme?

SUSANNE: Capturing the magic of Christmas without the commercialisation or the crowds at the shopping centre. Strip those elements away and you reach the heart of what Christmas represents to me – family and precious time with loved ones. Each year, our family comes together. For a while, there was a sadness about those who were no longer with us. Now, we’ve reached the stage where our family is growing again and some of the magic of Christmas has returned. My favourite Christmas stories focus on these positive elements.

CATHERINE/CAITLYN: Short timeframes. I admit to being more of a slow-burn writer a lot of the time; while I do believe in instant attraction and chemistry, insta-love can be a bit of a harder sell. That said, as a writer, it’s my job to make the reader believe in the story and the romance between the characters no matter how short a timeframe I have to fit it in, and if you push you can definitely extend a Christmas romance over a month. Shops start Christmas right after Halloween, so I daresay I can too!

LOUISE: I write romance that is on the sweeter side but I prefer to avoid the Christian and religious aspects of Christmas. Given the large market for inspirational romance however, basing a story around faith could be a major strength for other writers. I also like to keep it real. Christmas is not always 100% happy and I find stories that make it impossibly perfect can sometimes be corny.

Q3. Is there an author/s or book/s (apart from your own), you particularly love in the genre and believe exemplifies Christmas Romance?

SUSANNE: Anna Campbell’s The Winter Wife delighted me. It’s a novella about forgiveness and second chances, the most wonderful gifts we have to offer.

CATHERINE/CAITLYN: I just read Therese Beharrie’s A Wedding One Christmas, which was utterly delightful. If you think you should be reading diversely but are a bit scared of ‘literary’ books, Therese writes gorgeous romances with realistic characters who just happen to be black. Every romance reader should check her out.

LOUISE: I’ve read so many wonderful Christmas romances this year (including Sasha Cottman’s An Italian Count for Christmas and Ann B. Harrison’s Christmas Glitter) but I adored Debbie Macomber’s The Perfect Christmas. It’s sweet and sassy with a great premise, a hero who’s so reluctant you wonder how Macomber will ever pull this off, and a cast of memorable characters. It’s a fabulous read.

Q4. Please share some advice to those interested in writing a Christmas Romance.

SUSANNE: As with any seasonal holiday, it is important to ground the story within the essence of the holiday, and select a few of the wide range of trappings and understanding of what the season represents. For example, my family’s Aussie Christmas tradition might include (but not be limited to) the idea of beach cricket, sea, summer, prawns and salads, carols, presents under the tree, Santa arriving in the beach patrol boat and so on. But if your Christmas story is set in the back of Bourke, there are obvious differences. Regardless of that fact, the essence of Christmas still needs to be created. Trappings will change: Santa might arrive in a double-B Mac truck, the Christmas tree might be a eucalyptus, and the beach might be red dirt, but the ideas of family coming together and of giving to others will permeate the story.

CATHERINE/CAITLYN: Christmas music! That might sound ridiculous, but I listen to music a lot as I write and almost all of my books end up with their own ‘theme playlist’ (no I don’t share them on Spotify or whatever app you do that thing on), rather like an old mixtape (oh dear I just showed my age). Make yourself a playlist of Christmas music and listen to it as you’re planning and writing. Your story will be filled with holiday cheer because you’ll be in the Christmas mood all the time you’re writing it.

LOUISE: A Christmas romance (or two or three) is a great addition to your list. They are immensely popular, sell surprisingly well throughout the year and are a must-have inclusion for a series. Have your book ready for release by end of October at the latest and remember that readers don’t lose the Christmas spirit on December 26. They have gift cards, holidays and a real desire for the Christmas glow to last. Your promo dollar will go further once major retailers have dropped seasonal promotion after Christmas so keep your promo going through mid January at least.

Q5. What inspired you to write Christmas Romance?

SUSANNE: My parents were married on a snowy Christmas Day in London. For me, Christmas has always been inextricably tied in with their love story, and their efforts to find time together as WW2 raged around them.

One Night in Tuscany begins on a snowy Christmas Eve in Florence when two people trapped in an old lift discover the true spirit of Christmas – and love.

CATHERINE/CAITLYN: Who doesn’t love a good Christmas Romance? It’s the most magical time of the year without question, and there are just so many opportunities, from meet-cutes at the office party to kissing under the mistletoe, stranded in the snow together to special gifts under the Christmas tree. I write at least a short-story Christmas romance every single year!

LOUISE: I’ve always enjoyed Christmas romances set in the US and UK. Snow, sledding, egg-nog and roaring fires are undeniably romantic. But it’s not my Christmas so I challenged myself to write about an Australian one. A Kirribilli Christmas is set in Sydney, with a coming home/friends-to-lovers trope that focuses heavily on family relationships. The following year I pushed it further, writing about Christmas on an isolated outback property in An Outback Bride. It’s a deeply emotional tale of finding love at Christmas after tragedy.

ONE NIGHT IN TUSCANY: Susanne’s Tasting Sample

Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and rural romances. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. Her bestselling series, Hearts of the Outback, was inspired by her time teaching in far north-west Queensland.

Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her.

A hybrid author, she is published with Harlequin Escape. A popular guest speaker, she presented the keynote address at the Steele Rudd Pilgrimage, and was a guest speaker for the Dynamic Life Speakers Series for U3A, and has been invited to speak in libraries, at book clubs, and to community groups.

Follow Susanne on Bookbub



Susanne’s Website



CATHERINE/CAITLYN’S TASTING SAMPLE: A Christmas Miracle At Longbourn: A Pride And Prejudice Variation (The Darcy And Lizzy Miracles) (Volume 1)

Catherine Bilson writes historical romance as Catherine Bilson and contemporary romance as Caitlyn Lynch. Born in a remote farming community in North Wales, UK, she qualified and worked as an electromechanical engineer before giving it all up to marry an Australian and move continents.

Today she lives in sunny Queensland with her husband and two sons, a grumpy old cat and a more than marginally insane husky, following her dreams of writing for a living.

Caitlyn’s Website

Catherine’s Website

Facebook Caitlyn

Facebook Catherine




This year, read my Christmas stories in Whispers of Winter, a contemporary romance box set, and Unwrapping A Rogue, a historical Christmas box set releasing November 27.

If you’d like to read a free, no-obligation sample of my writing, check out Finding Cory, first in my Island Escapes series about the staff and residents of a fictional Great Barrier Reef resort island. Finding Cory is permanently free in all major ebook stores!

A KIRRIBILLI CHRISTMAS: Louise’s Tasting Sample

Louise Reynolds is an author of contemporary romantic fiction.

On receiving her library card at the age of six she borrowed her first book, an illustrated story about onions. Over the years she progressed from vegetables to romance. It was a logical step to take her love of romance novels to the next stage and tell her own stories.

Set in both the city and Australia’s outback, her books have been described as warm and witty feel-good reads.

Louise’s Website


Phillipa Nefri Clark

Phillipa grew up along lonely Australian beaches with wild seas and misty cliffs. From a young age she wrote stories and dreamed of being a writer.

These days she spends half her week running part of the family business and the other writing. Currently she is working on the third in her River’s End series.

Living in regional Australia on a small acreage close to a mountain range, Phillipa’s great loves – apart from writing – are her family of two young adult sons and husband, their Labrador, music, fine wine, and friends.

Check our her website, contact her by email, or follow on her on Facebook and Twitter

Leave a Comment