One thing I love about this time of year is having a few days off work when I can hibernate with a good book. I have a tradition of going to the library on Christmas Eve and choosing the books I want to read over the Christmas break, then I get comfortable with a hot drink and some dark chocolate, and dive in for a long read.
This year, I'm going to do it slightly differently. In Iceland, they give each other books on Christmas Eve, then sit up all night, reading their new books and eating chocolate. This sounds exactly my kind of thing, with the perfect combination of reading and chocolate, so my husband and I are going to a charity bookshop to choose books to give each other, then we'll settle down at home with our new books, and of course, lots of chocolate.
When I've got time to wallow in reading, I like to reread my favourites. I'm very fond of Wilkie Collins, and each time I reread 'The Woman in White', I recall the very first time I read it. Someone gave me a copy for Christmas, and I started reading it straight away, and was so engrossed I couldn't stop, and had the book open on my lap under the table so I could keep reading during lunch, something that was absolutely forbidden in my family.
It's also a good time to catch up with what I like to call 'professional development', or true crime books. I've got quite a collection of true crime cases like the Penguin 'Famous Trials' series, and a number of books on forensics. So this year I'll be reading and re-reading those, as they often give me inspiration for a new book, or a twist in the book I'm writing.
There's plenty of research for me to do over the Christmas break, too. My new novel is partly set in the murky world of Elizabethan espionage, and I have a pile of books in daily life in Elizabethan England, Walsingham, and spies to indulge in.
Must check I've got enough chocolate to see me through ...
One of the great things about being a writer is doing the research to support and inform each book. I'm currently writing the next Eden Grey mystery, and the action starts at Hailes Abbey, a ruined monastery near Winchcombe, just a few miles from Cheltenham.
Hailes is a beautiful, tranquil place. The light bounces on the amber stone of the ruins, it's surrounded by lush hillsides, and when I'm there, a deep sense of peace descends on me. Why that made me think it was a good place for a murder, I don't know!
Visiting Hailes during the summer, I took lots of photographs and shot some video to remind me of where different parts of the monastery and church were in relation to each other, and so I could visually conjure up the Abbey when I was writing.
I've put the clips together into a little video for you (only a couple of minutes). So if you've ever wondered what writers do all day, this will give you a taster.
Kim Fleet lives and works in Cheltenham. Her two cats help the creative process by standing on the delete key.