Christmas Fiction: Andreina Cordani

Author Andreina Cordani

There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book on a cold winter’s day, and this one will certainly keep you turning the pages! Andreina Cordani chats now about her locked room mystery…

Can you tell our readers about your latest book?

Twelve years ago, a group of students ran the Murder Masquerade society, an elaborate murder mystery club with lavish costumes, outlandish plots and fiendish twists. Then one night, half-way through a festive-themed role play, the group’s leader vanished from a locked room while dressed as Santa. He was never seen again.

This year, his twin sister has organised a reunion – one last murder mystery – at a remote Scottish house. Most of the Masqueraders have gone on to be hugely successful in their chosen fields, but as they all get together, old tensions rise to the surface and it becomes clear someone is taking the murder theme all too literally – picking them off one by one.

Why do you enjoy writing about the festive season?

Christmas is a time where we all have a lot in common – we’re all eating the same things, listening to the same songs, seeing the decorations go up. Even people who don’t do Christmas still experience some of those things, and we all feel a little differently about them. It was really good fun to play around with that, to warp all those traditions – like eating too many Quality Street and watching the King’s Speech – into a murder mystery setting.

Why do you think readers enjoy reading Christmas-themed novels so much?

A lot of people I speak to have little rituals to get into the Christmas mood and for me – and many other book-lovers – curling up with a festive read is as just much of a tradition as decorating the tree.

What inspired you to first start writing about Christmas?

We’ve always loved dark Christmas stories – even before Dickens’s time people would gather round the fire and spin ghostly mid-winter yarns and some of the European folklore around Christmas is downright terrifying! I’m fascinated by that. The whole point of Christmas is to celebrate life in the middle of winter, but we still have to include that little thrill of fear at the heart of it.

What books or authors (Christmas or non-Christmassy) are some of your influences?

When I started plotting, one of the first things I did was read Agatha Christie’s The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. It’s such a light, entertaining Poirot adventure and helped me get into the mood. But once I was in full flow, I stopped reading whodunnits altogether – it’s too intimidating to see how well other writers have done it! The film Knives Out was also an inspiration too – I love the slightly OTT mix of comedy and murder.

If you’re writing about Christmas during the spring or summer months, is there anything in particular you do to get into the spirit?

I’m used to it! I work in magazines, and we often put together our Christmas issue in July and August. I remember one year I was taste-testing mince pies and brandy butter in 30-degree heat! Earlier this year, in that September heatwave we had, I was making promotional videos in my back garden wearing my Christmas jumper and reindeer horns. That was pretty surreal.

When the world is particularly tough, do you think there’s more of a need for these kinds of novels?

When I was growing up, opening a book meant escaping into another world. I didn’t want to read about my own life, I wanted adventure and high stakes in far-away places. I don’t think that will ever change for readers like me.

How do Christmas novels fit in with the rest of the literary world – what is their place and how do you think they can maintain it?

At Christmas, people want something that’s the same but different – our seasonal tropes and traditions make us feel happy and comfortable but we also want a fresh take, something that feels new and makes us look at things from another angle. If you can deliver that, you’ll keep people going back to festive books!

What do you take away from writing festive stories?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Christmas and love that feeling of building excitement towards the big day. But in recent years, as a sensible grown-up parent, I found myself losing some of my excitement in the run-up to the festive season. My to-do list was overwhelming, and I’d get stressed out about other people enjoying themselves. But writing this book has switched me back into full-on Elf mode. It’s reminded me of all the things I enjoy about this time of year!

The Twelve Days of Murder by Andreina Cordani is out now (Zaffre, HB, £14.99) and available from Amazon.

Also in the series

Bestselling author Jo Thomas

Bestselling author Jo Thomas

Don’t miss our interviews with Jo Thomas and Sarah Morgan as they talk about their new Christmas novels!