This Christmas, Tori Hammond is on a mission to find love. Her ideal present under the tree would be a shiny new girlfriend, so Tori gives herself one month to find that special lady by December 25th. Christmas spells romance and she’s going to grab some.
However, Tori’s dates bring their own complications, and when someone unexpected strolls back into her life, her Christmas girlfriend quest is turned upside down. Will Tori land on her feet and find the woman of her dreams? And if she does, will it be who she expected?
From the author of Amazon No.1 best-sellers London Calling, This London Love and The Long Weekend, Clare Lydon has created another page-turner bursting with seasonal attitude and wit. If you’re a fan of Christmas rom-coms, prepare to laugh out loud and be swept off your festive feet!
Molly: What music, if any do you listen to when you write?
Clare: As a rule, I don’t listen to music when I write, I find it too distracting. But if I have music on in the background while I’m doing stuff like writing blurbs, social media and all of that, it’s usually BBC 6Music – alternative and indie stuff.
Molly: Are you a full time writer, or part time writer?
Clare: I’m a full-time writer and have been for just over a year. And yes, that still sounds amazing to say!
Molly: What was the transition like between part time and full time writer?
Clare: I got made redundant in 2013, so decided to finish the book I’d been writing on the side for five years (London Calling). I did that, and kept writing, but was also then working freelance, three days a week, as a music consultant and copywriter.
However, I’ve gradually left that work behind and for the last year it’s just been me and my fictional words, which has been quite a journey. Doing this full-time takes discipline and that’s something I’m still working on, but I’m loving having full control of my time and learning the business of writing too, along side the creation of words.
It’s super hard work, but I can see my sales growing and that’s fantastic – as a writer, you want as many people as possible to read your books. I’m loving it so far and am looking forward to more of the same in 2017.
Molly: Do you have a word count per day you try to hit?
Clare: I don’t write every single day – rather, I write in spurts. I give myself a deadline, decide on a word total, divide it by the number of days I have, then work out a daily word count. When I’m in a writing zone, I aim to write at least 3,000 words a day.
Molly: When you finish writing a book, how long before you begin writing the next one?
Clare: That varies – it depends if I’ve already started it, which has been the case of late. For instance, I’m just finishing up writing All I Want Forever, the sixth book in the All I Want seres, and then I’ll go back to writing the third book in my London series, which I’m already 20,000 words into. Of course, I’ll have a little break first – I normally take at least a week off writing, but I’m still doing the never-ending admin required of being an author.
But it’s all good and I’m loving it. Being my own boss and writing for a living are things I could never have dreamed would happen when I was made redundant three years ago.
“You know, I don’t want a lot for Christmas.” That was me, Tori Hammond saying that. Lover of all things Christmas and festive. Even I couldn’t believe the words were coming from my mouth, but they were definitely mine.
“Thank you, Mariah.” That was my best friend Holly replying.
I pulled my thick grey scarf around me and shivered in the early evening air. We were sat on our bench at the top of our hill, looking up at the charcoal sky. It had been our hill since school, where we’d met 16 years ago. As teenagers, Holly and I had sat and discussed boys here because we thought that’s what we were meant to do. Now aged 27, we sat and bemoaned women and pretended our world had evolved.
Behind us was a path lined with bare chestnut trees, their leaves long since dropped. Ahead of us was the smudged outline of the city, fogging up with every breath we took.
“No, I mean it,” I said, my breath a ghostly circle swirling in front of me. “I don’t need any new clothes or shoes, jewellery or perfume. My mum keeps asking me what I want, and I don’t know what to tell her.”
Holly rapped her knuckles lightly on my skull. Her long legs were crossed, her green duffel coat done right up, her short dark hair peeking out of her hat on one side, part-shaved on the other. In the darkening light, her pointed features appeared almost sinister, but Holly was one of the kindest people I knew — she was anything but sinister.
“Hello, Earth to Tori — is that you or have you been taken over by some alien invaders? You love Christmas! You’re the biggest Christmas lover I know.”
I shrugged. “And that hasn’t changed — Christmas is still my most favourite time of the year. I just don’t want any big presents this time.”
“I’ll remind you of that when I give you nothing,” Holly said. “You could tell your mum to give you a Good Gift — a goat for a family in Africa or something. My gran bought my mum the gift of sight for five children last year.”
I turned my head. “How did she react?”
Holly smiled her lopsided smile. “Mum said it was a nice gesture, but a bottle of gin to go with it wouldn’t have gone amiss.”
I smiled as I turned to face front again, looking out over the city skyline that was twinkling in the inky gloom before me. “Does it mean I’m getting old? Soon, I’ll be leaving presents to open till after lunch. I might even fall asleep before opening them. Imagine that.”
Holly nudged me with her elbow. “Does anyone in your family do that?”
An image of Christmas Day with Mum, Gran and Aunt Ellen ripping open their presents one after the other and holding their favoured loot aloft came to my mind. They could hardly contain themselves till after breakfast.
I shook my head. “Not really.”
We sat in silence for a few moments, the air stained and blurry. The smell of flattened mud and grass filled the air, the path in front of us chilled and damp. Holly wore black jeans, a green beanie and a new pair of black and gold Nikes. She’d always followed fashion way more than I did, mainly because she had the 6-foot-2 frame to pull off any item of clothing she fancied.
“You know what I really want for Christmas?” I said.
Holly sunk lower on the bench. “A minute ago, it was nothing, but do tell.”
“I want a girlfriend. Last year I didn’t have one, but that was okay because it was too soon after Amy. But this year is different. This year, I want to share my favourite time of year with someone special. I want to really enjoy the holidays.”
I heard Holly grin — her jaw always made a noise when she did. “You want a girlfriend for Christmas?”
“Well that’s easy enough,” she said.
I sat up and looked at her. “Is it?”
She nodded. “Sure. We just make you a billboard, drop you in the middle of Oxford Street and away you go.”
I scowled. “I’m being serious.”
She smiled. “So am I.”
Clare Lydon is a London-based writer of contemporary lesbian romance. She’s a No.1 best-seller on lesbian fiction charts around the globe, with five full-length novels to her name, as well as writing the All I Want series. If you’re a sucker for romance, prepare to fall head over heels in love.
When she’s not writing, Clare enjoys playing the guitar badly, watching far too many home improvement shows and eating Curly Wurlys. In her next life, she’d like to come back as Rayna James.
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