Writing One Christmas Eve

In the middle of the excitement of Little Dog and the Christmas Wish appearing in the Myer Windows in December 2015, I was asked to write another story which would feature in the 2016 windows.

I wrote One Christmas Eve on buses and in taxis, on my daily walks and in any place where I had a spare moment to think and write. The idea of a little girl of Italian heritage visiting Luna Park with her grandpa in the 1960’s came to me in a rush but as always along with the writing there also came research.

I was lucky enough to have a friend whose little girl was the same age as my character Bella so photographs of Lily were an enormous help to both myself and illustrator Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

I knew Luna Park, the beautiful carousel and the magical horses well both from my own childhood and that of my own children but I needed to research what it was like in Melbourne in the 1960’s for a family of Italian background.

Although the story is set in Melbourne, Italy is one of my favourite travel places and many years ago I lived in Rome working as a nanny. I’m sure that all of these experiences helped me shape the story and know my characters.

Publisher, Maryann Ballantyne, Artistic Director, Donna Rawlins, Marjorie and myself often worked well into many nights on this book the pressure being that the book had to come out at the same time as the Myer Windows for 2016. As I’ve said many times, a picture book can take years to write, illustrate, design and produce but this one was done in months.

I remember going down to St. Kilda one Friday night taking photos of the sunset over Luna Park and jumping up on a park bench to get the feeling of being in the  house of the grandparents in 1968 and talking to both Donna and Marjorie in Sydney while I was doing this.

In June of 2016 as the book was going to press, I happened to be at Hong Kong airport on my way to Italy with my daughter and I remember doing a final check of the book on my iphone. It might sound exciting but the stress levels went right through the roof.

So with a huge thank you to Maryann, Donna and Marjorie and to the wonderful crew at Stage One Productions, in November we had a beautiful book at the wonderful Myer Windows and we all survived.

Sharing this joy with 8 year old Lily who was asked to be part of the publicity for the window reveal and the book signings which followed was a special experience.

Not many people realise that the Myer windows travel to Myer stores following their first display in Melbourne and Brisbane. So this coming Christmas, which now appears to be on our doorstep, One Christmas Eve will be on display in the Myer Windows in Geelong and hopefully Lily and I will be there to join in the celebrations.  (Little Dog and the Christmas Wish will have it’s final showing in Myer Wagga Wagga.)

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