The Geek Who Saved Christmas is the latest book from Annabeth Albert, an author who has written several holiday romances over the years. In this discussion, Annabeth talks about what she loves about holiday romances, including some of her favorites stories. We also hear about a few of her family’s holiday traditions–spoiler alert, one of them involves books.
This Big Gay Fiction Fest presentation is only available on YouTube.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Annabeth Albert Author Spotlight
- Annabeth Albert: website | Facebook Group | Twitter | Instagram
- The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Libro.fm
- Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert on Amazon
- Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun on Amazon | Kobo
- Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo
- Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Status Update by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Santa Daddy by Keira Andrews on Amazon
- If Only in Your Dreams by Keira Andrews on Amazon| Kobo
- Mr. Frosty Pants by Leta Blake on Amazon
- Mr. Jingle Bells by Leta Blake on Amazon
- K.A. Mitchell on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- N.R. Walker on Amazon | Libro.fm
- Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton on Amazon
- RJ Scott on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- A Christmas Story on Amazon Prime Video
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on Apple TV
- National Lampoon Christmas Vacation on Amazon Prime Video
- Sink or Swim by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm (pre-order until February 22, 2022)
- Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert on Amazon | Kobo | Libro.fm
- Tough Luck by Annabeth Albert on Amazon (pre-order until March 24, 2022)
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Welcome back rainbow romance readers. It’s time to talk about the book that has one of the best covers of any holiday story this season. It’s Annabeth Albert’s “The Geek Who Saved Christmas.” The illustrated cover on this book captures the story and the characters so perfectly and Annabeth will actually be talking to us about that cover as we get into this interview with her.
But before we talk with her, let’s talk holiday traditions a little bit. In “The Geek Who Saved Christmas,” Paul and Gideon each talk about traditions while also creating some new ones. And of course, Will and I have our traditions that we’ve created during our past 20 years together. But I also feel like our traditions evolve in a lot of ways too, as we keep going. There are certain things that have to happen, but also I think we’ve become a lot simpler as we’ve gone along too. I think the older that we get, we simplify as we go.
What is your take on traditions and especially the ones that we’ve created?
Will: Well, it’s funny that you say simplify. We are by no means minimalists.
Jeff: Well, that’s true.
Will: But I do think that as we age, we become more and more, shall we say practical?
Jeff: That’s a good way to put it.
Will: If we’re going to have to go through a whole big rigmarole, we’re probably not going to do it. So you’re right. The things that we do as a couple have been simplified over the years.
And as I was thinking about traditions, and growing up, and things that we did during my childhood, I think it is a pattern that played out when I was younger as well, oddly enough.
Because any traditions we had would eventually, this sounds kind of sad, they would fade away. For instance, when it came to Christmas trees. I remember when I was very young, in grade school, there were a couple of years where we went out into the forest and cut down our own tree as part of like a family trip, family outing.
That was eventually simplified. And we would simply get our tree at a tree lot or pick out one at the grocery store. At the Safeway. But eventually my mom decided that cleaning up all the pine needles was too big of a hassle. And we got an artificial tree.
And, keep in mind, this was the mid eighties. So this was like a first generation artificial tree. It was… thinking back now it was utterly ridiculous. It was like bright kelly, plastic green, and the branches had sort of a bottle brush needle quality. It wasn’t realistic in the slightest.
Jeff: We had that tree too. And, the branches at least of ours screwed in to the wood pole.
Will: Oh, yeah. I don’t know if it was easier, or saved any time at all, but that’s what we had for a couple of years after that.
Yeah. So for me, traditions are never written in stone. They always change and evolve over the years.
Jeff: So I think I ended up and brought one of the traditions that we started in my family when I was a kid, and I think I’ve drug it over into ours. There was a particular Christmas, I think I was probably eight or nine, casue it’s while we were still living in Michigan. We were living with my grandfather who was working at General Motors, and my mom was in nursing school and she was towards the end of nursing school where she was still taking some classes, but she was also working in the hospital, a student nurse, doing all that practical work that one does towards the end of nursing school.
And it was a very chaotic Christmas season. And we ended up and did essentially Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas kind of all jammed up together, especially in terms of decorations. We had a couple of big pumpkins that we got after the Halloween season, that were still good and viable from the grocery store.
We happen to have a big garden in our backyard. Among the things that would get grown there was corn. And at the end of the season, my grandfather would take the corn stalks that are like six feet tall and make those like corn gatherings of the stalks and things that you would maybe put out.
Will: I don’t know what you’d call those, but I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Jeff: Big things and you tie them together and you kind of fan them out a little bit so they stand up on their own.
Jeff: So we had those on our front porch. And, then we also had the Christmas tree in the living room and all of these things were going at once.
And as we got further in towards Christmas, somebody had the very cool idea to actually put Christmas lights around the cornstalks on the porch. So all of this stuff was going on at the same time. And it became a thing that we just kind of did. We let the three holidays kind of mash together.
And that’s something that I think I kind of pulled with us a little bit because we decorate starting on November 1st. We get Halloween done, but then we’re right into Christmas. And, you know, Thanksgiving gets a little bit of a nod in the middle of all of it, but it’s all about put up the sparkles, put up the sparkles. So I think that’s what I kind of drug into our relationship was the fact that Christmas could start right on the heels of Halloween.
And you had no problem with that.
Will: Oh God, no. Bring it on.
Jeff: The one thing that he does do is forces Christmas to come down pretty much on the 26th. I don’t even really get to keep it to the new year.
Will: No, the 26th. The first. The first is a hard stop for me. Once it’s the new year we are done. It’s time to move on.
Jeff: See. ,I try to get him to pull it over to Three Kings Day on the 6th of January and I’ve never been able to make that happen.
Will: Not going to happen. Nope.
Jeff: So let’s go find out more about “The Geek Who Saved Christmas” directly from Annabeth Albert. One of the things that she’s going to talk about is how this story just kind of popped into her head and how it ultimately reflects who she is as an author.
Featured Author: Annabeth Albert
Annabeth, welcome, we’re so glad you could join us for the first Big Gay Fiction Fest, celebrating the 2021 holiday season.
Annabeth: Hi. This is my favorite time of year. I am so excited to be here with you and the attendees for this fun event.
Jeff: And we should celebrate you for just a moment, because December 4th as the event happens, it’s your birthday.
Annabeth: It is! I’m 43, and I can’t believe that we were mentioning, like, I can’t believe I’ve been publishing for seven years now and happy anniversary to the podcast.
Jeff: Thank you, yes, we celebrated our sixth just last month. Everybody’s celebrating little anniversaries and birthdays.
You have a brand new Christmas book out “The Geek Who Saved Christmas” with…
Annabeth: I do.
Jeff: … like one of the best covers ever. Tell us all about this book.
Annabeth: The title came to me first and it just came to me. I was like “The Geek Who Saved Christmas.” That would be a nerdy Christmas Romance. I’ve got to do it. And as soon as the title came to me, I knew that I wanted Lauren to do an illustrated cover. Lauren did the illustrations inside “Conventionally Yours,” and Lauren did a couple of really cute stickers for me and just an amazing artist. And I was like, I want that style but in an adult romance that has love scenes.
I was like, I’m going to try this. I want an illustrated cover. In a romance that does have open door love scenes. Cause people were saying, look, can you really do it illustrated? I’m like, yeah, you can do an illustrated cover because I wanted that “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” feel and we totally did that with the cover. I wanted that sort of classic Christmas caper feel, and to me, you could only really get it with an illustrated thing.
So the cover actually came first which is unusual. The title and the cover, and then I was like, okay, who is the geek? Why did he save Christmas? As I wrote the story, both characters end up saving each other. It’s two rival neighbors and we have Paul and Gideon, Paul Frost and Gideon Holiday and their rival neighbors.
And Gideon is Mr. Holiday. He loves the season. He loves the decorating. He loves his neighborhood and Paul is not. Paul is our Grinch. Paul would rather just pretend that the holidays don’t exist, and so including Mr. Holiday himself.
But they clash. And it turns out that Paul needs a holiday because Paul’s beloved younger brother is coming to town and wants to pop the question to his girlfriend. And all of a sudden Paul needs like some decorations. He can’t not have a holiday. So enter Gideon and they strike a bargain. Gideon’s gonna decorate and it’s going to be just so much fun.
And it was probably one of my most fun writing experiences. I wrote it for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. And I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a NaNoWriMo that much. I absolutely loved writing this book.
As I was writing the book, I was coming up with inspiration pictures for Lauren for the cover. And I was like this is just so much synergy, so much good energy. And when the final drawing arrived, I just gasped. I was like, this is it. This is the vision I had.
And so then Kate added the typography and I just, the cover totally reflects both the book and who I am as an author. I just, I loved this book. I love everything I’ve written, but this book is special.
Jeff: And I can imagine the fun, because even if you look at the character’s names, they’re so holiday and winter centric, it’s like, you kind of went all in on it.
Annabeth: I went all in.
So I decided when I commissioned the cover from Lauren, I made a decision with myself. I said, we’re just going to go all in. I’m just going to go completely in to everything I love about the holidays. I sort of did that with “Better Not Pout” and “Mr. Right Now”, but I was like, I want to just go completely, totally all in. The lights, the decorations, every holiday movie that I’ve ever loved.
I just want to channel that energy in. So yeah, Christmasie names, the foods, everything is kind of just everything I love about the season. And holiday romance. And I even made a list of like the things I wanted to get in there and I did it and I, I love it. It was just so much fun.
Jeff: So I’m curious then what do you consider the must have elements in a holiday romance, not just in your books, but like in general, to make you a satisfied reader or writer of the holiday romance.
Annabeth: Well what’s interesting to me is I’ve read a lot of different holiday romances. I have a tradition where I only read holiday from the night of Thanksgiving till New Year’s Eve. I only read seasonal stuff, both new and old favorites during that period. So I’ve read a lot of holiday books over the years, and I love books that are Christmas. I love books that are Thanksgiving. I love New Year’s romances. I love Hanukkah. So like you can have a holiday romance that reflects parts of the holiday that are not all in on Christmas.
I think that it’s important to note that, that it doesn’t have to be the US Christmas centric. I’ve read some amazing British set holiday things and stuff. So when you can see other cultures coming in. Or, Australian Christmas where it’s hot and sunny and I’ve read some great ones of that.
I think when you can tell that the author loves the season, whatever that means to them and that love shines through. That’s what I love about a holiday romance. It’s the little touches. Like the tradition that the family has of having a pudding if it’s a UK thing. Or, they have cookies that they’re baking. Little traditions that you see reflected in the background of the characters, but also that the characters are making traditions going forward, whether that’s lighting the Menorah or it’s decorating a Christmas tree. Like, what I love about holiday romance is you see the building blocks for a couple’s future together.
Like this is their first tree and it’s a little baby Charlie Brown tree. And in your reader’s mind, you can picture 10 years down the road. They’re going to have a big tree. It’s going to have a lot of ornaments. They’re going to be happy. It powers up the happy ever after, because through the traditions, you see the characters growing and how they will relate together for years to come. And whether that’s a snow covered, horse-drawn sleigh or whatever, like it’s those sorts of things.
And I love snow. I love the trappings of the season. I loved like little seasonal touches. But, for me, it’s also that feeling, that really super secure, happy ever after that we get from holiday romance. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I want. The big fluffy ending.
Jeff: You characterized a piece of it really interesting there that I hadn’t really necessarily considered before, because so often in the holiday romances, you can really see some of the domesticity that they may be headed to as they are in it for the long haul, because there can be those scenes of being at home decorating or preparing the food. You’re usually potentially at home more in a holiday romance than you might be in other situations.
Annabeth: I love that. See, I love the quiet moments between the characters. Like as a writer that’s always, my favorite thing to write. So that’s why I write a lot of road trips and conversations in cars. I like quiet moments.
And there’s something just really powerful about preparing food together. And when that food has more meaning, because you’re going to serve it to some honored guests or because it’s something that your mom used to make. When that food has an additional layer of meaning, it’s just so neat to read it and to write it. Because those everyday ordinary things like making a bed, or cleaning a room, like they all take on another layer of meaning. I love that. I love the quiet moments.
And as a reader, I feel better about a happy ending where I’ve seen them have those little moments and I’m like, okay. yeah, they’re gonna make it. You know, they survived the turkey argument. They are going to make it.
Jeff: Right, cause that’s the other thing, if you could survive a holiday together, you’re pretty golden after that, potentially with the stress.
Lucy: I think that’s part of what I love about it. It’s like they’ve got the meet the family out of the way. They’ve survived some of the couple’s biggest arguments, you know, what kind of turkey, what, you know, what flavor… Like all of these little arguments that come up over the first year of a couple together, like they’ve sailed through it. I love that. I love the fun of it. I love the domesticity of it.
I’ve also read some great holiday romances that are like travels and trips and like at a resort, like it doesn’t always have to be home. But, I sure love it when it is, when we can have those quiet sort of fireside moments, and we see them start to craft a future.
Jeff: Within “The Geek Who Saved Christmas,” what was your favorite scene to write?
Annabeth: I loved the whole thing. But, I there’s one scene that readers will know when they get to it cause it made me cry. But in a good way, a sentimental sort of cry. And that’s when Paul opens up enough to show Gideon what he has right now cause Gideon’s like, what are we working with here? What decorations do we have?
And I knew that Paul wouldn’t have nothing, but it wasn’t until I started writing that I realized that Paul did have some things and what those things were. And, Paul just kind of flowed through me and the scene took me by surprise in a way that scenes don’t often, cause I’m such a plotter.
This scene took me by surprise with the emotional impact. And I totally fell in love with Paul writing the scene. And I was like, oh, you are not just grumpy. You have layers, upon layers to your grumpy exterior. And I just, oh, I just loved the unveiling of the inner Paul in that scene where he’s showing Gideon around the house.
And I also love it because Gideon being absolutely a hundred percent Gideon with his plans and his spreadsheets. And his this can go here and that can go there and he’s just on all cylinders. And then he’s completely blindsided by the sentimentality of Paul and it just it’s so great. I loved writing that.
Jeff: Sounds wonderful. I’ll make sure to have Kleenex nearby.
Annabeth: And it’s not like it’s sad! The book is actually pretty fluffy, but it has an emotional punch that I wasn’t expecting when I set out to write it. I thought, well, I’m just going to do a complete rom com, but then Paul had other ideas. Paul’s like, I am not just your stereotypical grump. I have layers and I was like, oh, your layers are going to make me cry. But the fluffiness comes from the two of them together and that’s kind of when we’re talking about the domesticity. Like their banter, their fun and there’s not really like a lot of relationship angst. They’re just gonna be together and they’re gonna work it out.
We know that the whole book, that they’re going to work this out. And so there’s not that drama of who’s going to come out or who’s gonna, you know, introduce who to the family or how’s all these little moving parts, sometimes that can increase an angst level in a book. And there’s none of that here. And I liked that, but there is an emotional punch and that was wonderful to get to experience.
Jeff: Cause that’s some of the best stuff in the Christmas stories are the happy moments or the reflective moments that just bring that extra umph.
Annabeth: The reflective moments like, oh. I was thinking about this before we got started. Like some of my favorite books. I love the fluff, but I also just really love when there’s that extra little bit of emotion. Like, it’s a male female book, but Anne Calhoun’s “Breath on Embers,” which is a short Carina Press novella. It is just absolutely emotionally one of the most powerful things I’ve written because it’s a heroine who is finding love after losing her spouse. And it is how she manages to cope with the season. And I love things like that. Give someone who hasn’t had a good Christmas, a good Christmas, and I love that.
One of my favorite tropes too, is bringing someone home for the holidays. And I haven’t written it yet, but I want to. But when somebody comes to someone else’s house and they’ve never had that. I did it a little bit in “Better Not Pout” and when it’s a big family and someone who’s never had that experience gets to have it. I love that, both in movies and in books. And when it’s someone that has sort of a sad background, but now they’re going to get this warm, fluffy thing. It just adds another layer to it. It’s like you want to just wrap that character in a big fuzzy blanket and keep them safe.
Jeff: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Perfect.
You and I are very much the same vibe for what we like in our Christmas stories.
Annabeth: Well, I love books that have an emotional bite to them anyway. But when you can take, it’s kind of like the filling in a Christmas cookie. Anybody can do sugar cookies, but when you add that layer of emotionality into it, that sort of emotional resonance, oh, I just love it. Like when I feel that little bit of extra emotion in there.
Jeff: You’ve named checked a couple of your other holiday books. Certainly “The Geek Who Saved Christmas” is not the first one. There is “Mr. Right Now.” there’s “Better Not Pout”. There’s “Wrapped Together.” Even if you look at something like “Arctic Heat,” it’s not a Christmas book, but you got extended holidays sequences in there because of what those characters are doing.
Annabeth: I love putting holidays in books.
Jeff: What is it about the holiday that is like, it’s gotta be in an Annabeth Albert book, if it can be, or is possibly the entire book?
Annabeth: Well, what I love is what we talked about the domesticity of it. The caretaking that’s implicit in it. And if I’m going to have a book that takes place over the winter, I’m not the kind of person that can just pretend that the holidays don’t happen. And so in my head, when I’m thinking about characters and I’m thinking, okay, this is going to be fall. I’m like, well, how are they going to deal with Thanksgiving? Are they people that want to ignore it? Okay, why? Why do they want to ignore Thanksgiving? What can we do with that? Or are they people that are going to want to go home? Ooh, what’s going to happen then? I love people’s stories.
And, around the holidays there’s always a story, either why you avoid it, why you hate it, why you love it, why you have to have sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Like, there are stories upon stories.
And so what I love is sort of getting to the heart of those stories. And sometimes like with “Arctic Heat,” like they were going to be snowed in together in Alaska all winter. I was like, well, they got to do something. I could just do a time jump and okay it’s November now it’s January. No! I want to know what happened. I want to know. Did they cook something? Did they have a little present? Did they have nothing? Like as a reader, I want to know. And so I wrote that because I wanted to know. I love getting deep inside the characterization that holidays let you.
And I like approaching it from non-traditional angles, like in “Arctic Heat” and “Status Update” is another one where I did Thanksgiving in a Crock-Pot and I loved getting to do that. They’re in an RV it’s Thanksgiving. They got at least nod at the holiday. So they did a Crock-Pot Thanksgiving. And I love that. Like, I love getting to show the things that you can show through characterization.
And, I’ve done a number of epilogues that take place at holidays, just because that to me is a really powerful sort of six months or one year jump ahead when you can see that. Okay, they’re making it through the holiday season. They are having all those little arguments over who’s house do we go to for Christmas or what are we getting each other? And they have the perfect present and I love those as epilogues too.
I like what you can do with characterization and what you can show with the holidays as a backdrop. As a lover of character and plot, I just love getting in there and sort of seeing what you can see.
Jeff: To look at “Arctic Heat” a little bit more, which was one of our holiday Big Gay Fiction Book Clubs last year. It was so wonderful , because they were snowed in, like you mentioned, you got to do Thanksgiving and Christmas and I believe New Year’s too, because they kept being snowed in. So you got all of the winter holidays going on within this one story. It was like the mega holiday book, even though it wasn’t a holiday book at all.
Annabeth: It wasn’t. I believe it came out in like April or something. It was not a Christmas book at all, but because the trope was snowed in together. I couldn’t ignore that the holidays were happening. And what it let me do was show the evolution of Quill from someone who totally ignored that it was just another day on the calendar to someone who understood that for some people it had resonance. And just seeing those little character growth moments in Quill makes when they do get together as a couple, I’m like, okay, he has changed and grown enough. And I saw it in those little scenes. I saw him growing. So as a reader and as a writer, I trust that Quill is growing and changing. In a way that if I hadn’t shown the holidays, I don’t know that I’d trust it as much.
I want to see those little moments of character growth. And as a writer, like, nothing excites me more than character growth. And if I can use the holidays to show that kind of character progression or how they’re dealing with things. I want to get in there and do that, because I want to have a really big meaty growth arc, even in fluffy things. I want a lot of character growth. And so if they’re not growing and changing, I’m bored.
Jeff: You mentioned that you tend to re-read your favorite holiday stories in the season. What are some of your favorites that our listeners should check out if they haven’t already?
Annabeth: So the one I mentioned Anne Calhoun’s “Breath on Embers” is probably my favorite male/female of all time. I love Keira Andrews does a holiday book every year. Keira has like a bunch of different holiday novellas and full length novels. And sometimes I’ll just take a week and I’ll reread Keira’s whole backlist of holiday ones because they’re all good. They’re all fabulous. They all have different moods like “Santa Daddy” and I’m totally blanking on the other title I wanted to say, but it’s the one with the road trip and the guys in the car, and it’s really good. If Only in Your Dreams” and it’s great. And so all of Keira Andrews novellas and novels.
And, Leta Blake has a great one, “Mr. Frosty Pants.” “Mr. Jingle Bells” is coming this year. I love Leta’s holiday books, which tend to be a little spicy, a little fun.
K.A. Mitchell who, finding them can be a little tricky because the back list, but I think some of them are still available. K.A. Mitchell’s holiday books remain some of my absolute favorites.
N.R. Walker did a great one last year that I know I’m going to reread this year. N.R. has a couple of different holiday ones that are good, but the one from last year was really good. Yeah, I just, I love kind of just going back through my e-reader and seeing like, you know, well, which ones did my auto buy authors who dropped a Christmas book. And, sometimes I buy and then I read the following year, like, that actually happened with Eli Easton’s is probably one of my other favorite ones, “Blame It on the Mistletoe” and that became a series. And one of those books I bought but I kept kind of off to the side. And then it was like July and I was like, oh my goodness. I have an Eli Easton I haven’t read. And I was just so excited to get to read a Christmas book in July. And so like I’ll buy things and then read them like a year later.
Like last year I was in an anthology “Gifts of the Season” with RJ Scott has a number of just awesome Christmas books and RJ released the anthology that I was in and I actually read the anthology late in the season and it was just so great to have that whole little lineup of stories. And so, yeah, I collect as I’m going and then I make it to them eventually.
Jeff: For you and your family, what’s a favorite holiday tradition that you’ve got?
Annabeth: Well, my own personal tradition is the reading lots of holiday things. I like watching movies with the kids, introducing them to some of our favorites, like, “Christmas Story” and “Rudolph,” “National Lampoon,” you know, just funny sort of ones. I like watching movies with them. I’ve been making fudge since I was my youngest child’s age. My youngest is 11 now and I was probably around then when I started making fudge with my grandmother, who’s not with us anymore. And when I make fudge with the kids, I feel that link back to my past. And it’s more than just making fudge. Fudge is pretty easy to do, but it’s that link to my past that I really like. And so the fudge, the cookies, the ritual of making the food. The food is super important to me. I love producing the meal for the family. But I think the fudge is probably one of the big traditions for me, just in terms of how sentimental it is.
Jeff: Wow. That’s wonderful, nothing like good food to make that link between the generations.
Annabeth: Oh, absolutely. Food links us with those who aren’t here anymore too. I was thinking that last year. My dad is no longer with us, but when I make mashed potatoes, I feel him because I can hear him saying, oh, five pounds of potatoes. That’s not enough. Did you get the big bag? And he would sit and peel. And so when I’m sitting and peeling the potatoes, while watching the Macy’s parade, it’s not just me peeling potatoes it’s 40 years of memories of him peeling the potatoes during the Macy’s parade, and all the different ones that we’ve seen, all the different floats, and the different parades. And so it’s not just about the potatoes. I make potatoes every week. It’s that ritual. It’s that connection to the person who’s not there anymore, who you kind of wish was.
And so, yeah, like the food is memory and food is love. And when you know that someone has a favorite dish and you bring it out like, presents are great, but if someone’s been missing something and you can produce it with a food memory. Something like my mom loves cranberry sauce. And like, just knowing that I have that on the table for her, that makes me feel so good inside. If there’s something that someone has wanted that I can produce.
Jeff: So good. Going back to your childhood. What was the favorite present that you got?
Annabeth: We had pretty simple holidays. I grew up pretty rural, fairly poor. So for me one of the things that I would look forward to every year was books and my uncle would send books every year. And I’d know that Christmas night I’d have a brand new book that would be mine.
I got library books all the time, stacks of library books. But I knew that there’d be a book coming Christmas morning that I would then get to read Christmas night. And I have really great memories of a couple of different snowed in Christmases, where we lost power because we were out in the boonies. And so reading by flashlight, this brand new book that I got, and I got the “American Girl” books that way. I got “Babysitters Club.” I got exposed to a number of different classics through him. And those books were really important to who I am now, you know, that I got that experience of a book as a gift. And, you know, various other things were great presents over the years, but that really was something that I looked forward to. And I know that it would be something that I wouldn’t be able to get myself or at a library. So I just I really look forward to that.
Jeff: I love always the stories of people who nurture the reading along. I mean, you were already obviously going to the library, but just that moment of like giving the books, as you mentioned, as a gift and nurturing further reading, it’s some of the best to me that can be given.
Annabeth: And it’s really fun when you see it going onto the next generation. Like, so now he’s the great uncle to my kids and he got them a set of “How To Be Wizard” books that are like, the science-y sort of, it’s fabulous, is a three book set. And the inscription, like there is his handwriting, that was there for me when I was a kid and these books would come and it would have his handwriting. And now it’s like their books and getting to see that generational sort of passing on is really neat, especially when it’s people that they’re not going to be around forever. But, those memories and the books, and I would not be who I was if it wasn’t for my uncle the librarian. And so, I owe a lot to those book presents.
Another memory that I have too, a really strong one, is one year we were the recipients of a holiday box. I know a lot of people give every year to trees and boxes and stuff. And you don’t often hear from people whose family got a Thanksgiving basket or something. So I want to say, that if you’ve ever given to something like that, a giving tree or Thanksgiving box that there are people out there who that was an awesome holiday. And it was because of you and you giving to some generous charity. And there were a couple of years, that was a difference maker for my family. We were able to have a ham or something that we wouldn’t have had because it came through charity. And I appreciate that.
And as an adult, I try to give back now to those sorts of things. But I think, you know, sometimes you forget that there’s humans on the other side of the giving and it does make a difference and people grow up to be adults because of the generosity of others.
Jeff: Some really awesome stories there. Thank you for sharing those. It warmed my heart so much to hear both of those. I mean, the books and, reminding people that there are actual people on the other side of the giving tree, who you’ve made their Christmas and their holiday, even though you may not know that you did.
Annabeth: Yeah, and I actually put that in “Better Not Pout” for that reason, the idea of the giving tree, because as a kid, like it’s kind of isolating, you feel like different kind of set apart, your family needs help, but maybe other families don’t need. And there can be a lot of shame kind of associated with that.
But now as an adult, I look back and I’m like, we were so lucky. We were so lucky to have had people who were willing to help us out at a time a year when everyone is stretched thin. And so if you’re in a position to help others, either by giving a book or giving of your time or something, it really does make a difference to people.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Looking beyond the holidays and into 2022, what can you tease us about what’s coming up for you in the New Year.
Annabeth: I am so excited for 2022, even though I don’t want to say 2022. I’m like really? Okay. 2022. Wow. I was expecting us to be on space stations by now.
A February book coming “Sink or Swim.” A lot of people loved book one, “Sailor Proof,” which came out in February. And I’m excited to tell you that Calder is getting his book.
And then in March, I have another book coming, called “Tough Luck” and it is for everyone who has asked me to do another SEAL hero. I have the series for you. I have former SEALS who are bodyguards. So it is a SEAL bodyguard, romance series. And I’m writing book one right now and I am in love. I am in such love. It’s kind of the best parts of me and my past writing and books that I’ve loved. And so I’m really loving this. That’ll launch in March. And so I’ll have a couple of books in that series and I have some other stuff coming and I can’t wait to see what 2022 is going to bring in terms of books, so absolutely keep up with me. I’ll have different things going on pre-order as we get closer to releases. But, I’m very excited for the books I get to write in 2022.
Jeff: Fantastic and remind people so they can in fact, keep up with you. Where can they find you online to get all the news as books get ready to release?
Annabeth: So, I’m all over social. I’m on Instagram. I’m on Twitter. I’m on Facebook. I’m probably on Facebook the most. We have my readers group, Annabeth’s Angels. We love having you. And then I have my website, which I try to keep updated and you can subscribe to my newsletter from there. I send my newsletter just with new releases so you’re not getting inundated with things, just new releases and sales. But, I do try and keep in touch with my readers that way.
I love hearing from readers. If you do check “Geek” out, let me know. I’d love to know what you think about “The Geek Who Saved Christmas.” That would make my holidays. So yeah.
Jeff: Well, there you go everybody drop Annabeth a line once you read this new book.
Thank you so much for being with us and celebrating the holidays in our first Big Gay Fiction Fest. We wish you and your family, the happiest of holiday season.
Annabeth: Thanks you too. And everybody watching. I wish you guys a happy holiday, too.
Jeff: Thanks again to Annabeth for joining us for the Big Gay Fiction Fest. It made me so happy to know that one of Annabeth’s favorite scenes in “The Geek Who Saved Christmas” is also one of mine. Paul looking at, and talking about the ornaments that he had, was so moving and just really makes Gideon, and the readers, love Paul all the more. Each of those guys sharing about their Christmases of their past was really some of my favorite parts of them getting to know each other. And, then combine that with all the domesticity Paul and Gideon fall into, and my heart was just with both of them so, so much.
Will: Now, if you’d like to learn more about some of the traditions our featured authors have, and get more holiday book recommendations, hang tight because we are not done yet. More Big Gay Fiction Fest is coming up.