Oh My Shelves welcomes author T. J. Masters to the blog with his Christmas in July release from Dreamspinner Press – Diary Dates, available July 23, 2016 – and share with us thoughts on settings in books and share an excerpt.
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Story settings in general work on two levels. There are the places that different parts of the story take place in, but there is also that setting in time and space where the story itself exists. In the case of Diary Dates the setting is London during the last quarter of the year. Andrew has arrived in London to begin his Masters degree so it is the start of the academic year in September. London has many attractions for a young international traveler but one of the things which Andrew is most looking forward to is the run up to Christmas as the city prepares itself for the festivities. There is the famous Christmas Tree given by the people of Norway every year to light up Trafalgar Square. Then there are the major shopping streets of London’s West End each trying to better the others with their Christmas lights. All are alien to this young man so eager for new experiences.
They continued on like this for the next few weeks, with James gradually introducing more and more of the city to Andrew. They always had a good time, and Andrew felt himself growing increasingly attached to the older man, but it was during one event he had been particularly looking forward to that he began to wonder if their relationship might develop into something more than just a promise to visit different parts of London together.
They had arranged to meet each other on Regent Street for the switching on of the elaborate Christmas light decorations, something which, for Andrew at least, would mark the true beginning of the season. It was already getting dark when he spotted James striding towards the crowds toward him, looking impressive and imperious in his black wool coat.
“Hello there,” Andrew said, smiling.
In response, James pulled him into a quick but firm embrace. “Hello yourself,” he replied. “I’ve been looking forward to this.”
Hearing that made Andrew feel more relieved than he would have cared to admit. Part of him still worried occasionally that James was only taking him to all of these places out of a sense of obligation. Of course, nothing in his demeanor ever suggested that was the case, but it worried him all the same. It was good to be reassured that James was planning on enjoying himself as well.
“Where should we watch the lights go on?” Andrew said, feeling like an overexcited child. “Where’s the best spot?”
James laughed. “Well, the whole street is going to be pretty busy, as you can see, but I had somewhere in mind. Follow me.”
They navigated their way through the increasingly dense crowds of people filling Regent Street. After a few minutes of walking, James pulled Andrew into a small alcove that housed the door to an upmarket café. It was closed at that time, however, and by standing there they could see the long row of lights suspended along the length of Regent Street.
“Acceptable?” James asked, smiling.
Andrew nodded. “Perfect!”
They waited for another forty-five minutes for the countdown to begin. Finally the lights blazed to life and suffused the entire street with a beautiful golden light that made it look as if one of the dioramas from the department stores had come to life.
Andrew was so busy admiring the lights that it took him a moment or two to notice that James had shifted his position so that they were standing more closely together—almost touching, in fact. He waited for James to move away, thinking it was an accident. When James didn’t, Andrew cautiously returned the gesture by sidling closer to him.
James looked down and smiled. “So?” he said. “What do you think?”
It was difficult to know if he was talking about the lights or their physical proximity to each other. “I love it,” Andrew said.
James turned away to look at the lights again.
Diary Dates by T.J. Masters
Series: Christmas in July
Release Date: July 23, 2016
Pages: 52 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspinner • Amazon • ARe
Postgraduate student Andrew Chin arrives in London not only to study, but to explore life away from his traditional family in Singapore. His adventure begins at the airport, where he finds the diary of a wealthy British businessman and endeavors to return it.
James Howard is twice Andrew’s age, and he’s not used to selfless youngsters. Despite a rocky first meeting, the two develop an unlikely friendship as James introduces Andrew to the city. James is looking forward to the festivities leading up to Christmas in London and maybe a celebration with Andrew. But will a nasty bout of the flu ruin their romantic holiday?
Not if Andrew has anything to say about it.