Here is another in my series 'Inspiration Behind the Story'. Today, I am going to tell you about how I came to write my upstairs-downstairs story The Snow Queen, published in this month's Peoples Friend Christmas Special.
When my children were small, during the week leading up to Christmas I would let them choose their bedtime stories from the Christmas shelf. Although there were many books to choose from, I could guarantee which ones they would choose.
Not surprisingly, their favourites were open the flap, pull the tab books with beautiful illustrations. One thing they all had in common, though, was they were all set in the Victorian era - even at such a young age my children could sense the magic of Christmas at that time.
Recently, my nine year old grandson came to stay. I wasn't sure if he would still want a bedtime story but he nodded eagerly when I suggested it. I went to get him some water and when I came back, he had the Christmas books spread over the bed. "Can we read these?" he asked.
It may not have been Christmas, but I was thrilled... another child to share the Christmas stories with.
When I started to read, I noticed that what linked each book was a huge Christmas tree in the hallway of the large houses where the stories were set. These pictures I have shown are from different books but the magic of the tree is obvious. "I wish I lived there," my grandson said.
As well as the grand hallways, dining rooms and ballrooms above stairs, the books often showed the bustling kitchen below stairs as well - with steaming puddings, turkeys being taken out of the oven and footmen walking up and down the servant's stairs. As we looked at the beautiful illustrations and read the simple stories, I knew that I wanted to write my own story about a large Victorian house at Christmas.
And as soon as I came to the snow scene in 'The Nutcracker' above, I knew I had my story.