Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christina Hollis: Storytelling Like It's Deep And Crisp And Even...

[CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Gryffindor, via Wikimedia commons
Most of the time, I have a terrible memory. I mean, really bad. Only last Monday I rang OH at work in a panic, thinking I'd thrown my purse in the boot of his car for the drive to church the day before. It was only after he'd answered his phone I remembered we'd gone in our daughter's car. Oops.

 There's one curious thing about recall in general, and my own memory in particular that's always puzzled me. I'm in the Slackers Club now, and we start playing Christmas carols sometime in November, but that wasn't always the case. I was brought up in the strict Methodist tradition of nothing but contemplation from the first Sunday in Advent, followed by a quick burst of carols squeezed between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night. Despite this, I can sing along with virtually every known Christmas carol that comes on the radio or TV.  My party piece is Good King Wenceslas. I know every single word off by heart, despite never singing it more than once or twice a year. Why, when I can't remember what vehicle I sat in yesterday?
By Kris De Curtis, via Wikimedia
It's because the most memorable carols have a conventional narrative arc. There's a beginning, a middle and an end. Things happen, and people are changed. You aren't simply reciting verses that have been formed around abstract spiritual concepts of love. You're telling a story one step at a time, in the tradition of the earliest peoples who gathered around a fire. Carols are often sung to melodies written by those two local heroes, Trad and Anon, too, which makes them much more user-friendly than many High Church tunes. That's the case for Good King Wenceslas, whose words have been fitted to the tune of a lively spring folk dance. The whole package combines a cheerful tune and regular rhyme scheme in a story of generosity towards those people who have little or nothing. It's a wonderful exercise in giving, teamed with a great lesson in dramatic tension. At a time when the excesses of Black Friday are still fresh in everybody's minds, it's the perfect sentiment for the season.

At this point it's traditional to include a pack shot of the blogger's current novel. As the cover of His Majesty's Secret Passion features a hunky, semi-naked guy, it hardly seems right to display him beside talk of Christmas carols.

If you'd like to see King Leo of Kharova in all his glory,  just hit the like button here on my author page, and you'll be able to find out all about him, between now and the release date of His Majesty's Secret Passion.

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction–when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen different languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at,on Twitter and Facebookand see a full list of her published books at Her next release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, will be released in early 2015


dstoutholcomb said...

In church today, I was trying to figure out why I know the first verse to every Christmas carol hymn, but not the rest totally by heart.

Other than that, I have a great memory! lolol

Merry Christmas!


Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Denise. Our church is decked out magnificently for Christmas, which is so different from when I was a child. It looks lovely, but we still don't get many people in the congregation :(