Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oh Go Scrooge Yourself: The Holiday Plot

The holidays. The Holy days. They span the year. They are common to all faiths even though their tenets vary. The more wide-spread the faith, the more abundant the available pockets and the more rampant the exploitation.

Bah! Humbug.

Yes, I am one who sees the Mighty Holiday Marketing Machine behind 80% of holiday-centric stories. Yes, publishers are among the businesses powering the machine. The calls for Christmas submissions, the profusion of Valentine anthologies; heck, even Halloween and Easter releases make my cynical eye twitch.

I'll admit, being a Scrooge on the topic of using holidays as a plot device is partially due to my utter lack of interest in contemporary books. While I love historicals, I'll avoid the ones in which a notable religious holiday is centric to the plot.

The exception to my disdain? Samhain.

Wha? hypocrisy? Moi? I'll read a contemporary if it has a unique and heavy paranormal element. The holiday many authors of paranormals use as plot device? Samhain. Perhaps Samhain's reference is so pervasive in specific contemporary sub-genres, the publishers don't hold their releases for the actual holiday. Perhaps it is because many authors focus more on the magical/mystical and less on the religion supporting the holy day, that Samhain books aren't driven by the Mighty Holiday Marketing Machine. Perhaps now that Paranormal and Urban Fantasies are no longer the darling sub-genres of publishing (casts a wary eye at "New Adult"); anything referencing the holy day is bound to the sub-genre rather than ascending it.

Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

Whatever the reason, whichever the holiday, I'd rather read about grumpkins and hobbits. You can keep the candy-hearts and the mistletoe. 

What about you, dear reader? Are there holiday-themed books to which you are attracted? Are there holiday-themed books you avoid?


  1. I'm a bit twitchy on the whole thing, frankly - but it sort of depends. (I'm coming from the PoV of children's movies, atm - and there's a big difference between say, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown...and Santa Buddies. (God damn, I cannot stand these little golden retriever movies. And I have nearly all of them. But they're clearly not meant for me, so...*shrugs*) This didn't answer your question, I don't think, but two weeks before Xmas and I'm thick in the middle of the marketing deluge. Help.

    1. Erf, not the talking puppy movies! (and this commiseration coming from a dedicated dog-person.) You only have to survive another 15 days!

  2. I suppose, in many ways, all holidays are one great big cliché - and we write about clichés at our peril...

  3. I'm not that set on holiday themed books one way or the other. If the plot's good and the characters are people I'd like, then I'll read a holiday story, but I don't seek them out. Most of the stories I've read themed around this time of year are romances anyway, and my romance reading has really slacked off over the years. Give me somebody shooting something, blowing something up, cursing something or tearing something apart, I'm there. ;o)

    1. bwahaha! Three cheers for blow, curse, and tear!