A Story on the Christmas Tree: Alison Littlewood

Alison Littlewood has outdone herself this year, not only allowing us to publish her fabulous Victorian historical mystery The Crow Garden, but providing us with this wonderful blog post as well!


Why be content to have mere decorations on your Christmas tree, when you can have a whole story? I love gathering mismatched trimmings. Each year I remember where we got that little ceramic star or who gave us the dotty hanging Dalmatians. So beautiful designs in coordinated colours or made entirely of pinecones are not for me – my tree is a bit untidy, but it’s not really just a tree, it’s a trail of memories. Here are a few . . .

My oldest decoration is a yellow dove. If it looks like a messy child made it, it’s because I did, back in infants’ school, and no doubt tormented my mother with the sight of it for many years. Behold my creative powers and despair!

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The rather better made but quirky snowman is something I picked up just before an author reading at Lindum Books. Everything about that day was lovely – Lincoln is a lovely city, Bailgate is a lovely street and Lindum Books is a deliciously lovely independent bookshop. I met a great group of people, was given the warmest welcome and presented with chocolates afterwards. Now I can think of it whenever I see his funny little expression looking back at me.

My green Cthulhu Santa may look comical, but it’s actually rather bittersweet. Someone I used to work with sadly died last Christmas Day, and this is a tribute to him and other lost friends. Jamie was a big fan of genre fiction and loved H. P. Lovecraft’s stories – he once shared a selection of themed Christmas carols with me, classics such as Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice and I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth. So this year I shall raise a glass and think of him, along with much-missed writer friends Graham Joyce and Joel Lane, and remember how lucky I am to have met such funny, talented, terrific people.

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Next up – not just a decoration but a whole mini-tree, presented to me by a good friend along with the book cover baubles which she adds to each year. It was a great surprise, something I’d never have thought of, but it’s great to see those publishing memories all mapped out and more than that, to think of my friend who went to so much trouble. (Thanks, Karen!)

Last but not least, another gift, this time made by the wonderful and talented writer Cate Gardner. It’s delightfully – well, skullish, and far too good just for Christmas, so this one lives year-round on one of my pen pots. (Erm, every girl needs more than one pen pot, right?)

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So there’s my Christmas in a handful of decorations – not only a bit of extra sparkle around the place but some lovely memories of books and friendships past and present and good times, and – well, pens. Happy Christmas, everybody!

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