While we don’t usually think of Starling as a holiday book, the reality is that Thanksgiving and Christmas loom large in it, with one of Alex’s major growing up moments happening in a thoughtful moment after attending midnight mass at St. Patrick’s in New York City. When it came time to write a holiday story set in the Love in Los Angeles universe, we knew we didn’t want to return to Alex as the central focus, but show what the holidays are like for some of our other characters.
This led to days of discussion religious backgrounds and beliefs as well as logistical considerations. And while Racheline kept telling me that everyone can’t be Catholic, we did, ultimately, settle on writing our Christmas story about Liam Campbell, who was an altar server as a kid, even if he quit his church’s Boy Scout troop because they were, by national policy, anti-gay.
Liam is always, for us, a character about contradiction, logistics, and image. Some of the things that look easy for him really aren’t. Some of his logic, while internally consistent, is annoying and even offensive to others. And no matter how much he projects the image of a healthy, happy, well-adjusted and kind celebrity, he’s still also a former child star. Sometimes, he can be a brat.
Evergreen, which will be out from Torquere on December 17, is about exploding that image of celebrity wisdom he has going on in Starling. Just because he offers Alex a lot of great advice about relationships, doesn’t mean he’s always good at balancing his own web of affections or understand what other people need from him.
As a kid, Christmas for Liam was about helping his dad decorate the house, mostly failing to help his grandmother bake cookies, and hanging out with his cousins when they came in from out of town. It was a lot of typicality in what was already, for Liam, a pretty atypical life. Since he moved to L.A., Liam keeps coming home for Christmas. It’s where his family is, and it’s also where all the old comforting and predictable traditions are, including midnight mass at St. Luke’s of the Fields (which is Episcopalian, not Catholic, but the reasons for that are a story for another time).
But far from a story about childhood or faith — Liam has some but that won’t really be in focus until Phoenix, the third book in our series — or even the holidays, Evergreen is about how that background of celebration and expectation makes business as usual the absolute worst strategy for navigating the season.
This post kicks off a series of posts we’re going to be doing about the holidays, and what they were and are like for many of our Love in Los Angeles characters. Much of this information doesn’t intersect with Evergreen (it’s only a novelette, set between Starling and Doves, after all), but all of it speaks to how these people navigate family — both blood and chosen — tradition, and the demands of their everyday lives.