Question I've always been passionate about Christmas, and I think I'd enjoy writing a novel with a holiday theme more than anything. I hesitate though, because I feel like there's no way a novel about Christmas, especially by a first-time author, can be successful. If I'm even lucky enough to get published. And I think that's partly because there's only so many things you can do with a novel about Christmas. My idea is a story told in the point of view of a teenage girl with depression, who must spend another Christmas with her overly concerned family. I want her to tell the story of her current Christmas along with different parts of past Christmases, with every other chapter being a flashback, the farthest one being her first Christmas after losing her father to suicide. It's meant to be a serious book, but also contain the magical feeling of Christmas. Is there any way I can make this work?Answer
I can't say I read too many Christmas books myself, however I don't think it's necessarily a bad subject. The world never seems to get tired of Christmas books. Novels make for as good stocking stuffers as others.
You could write an honest story of a teenage girl suffering depression anytime of year. The Christmas theme just makes for a little more interest. There's room for a high concept there.
The bottom line is that it depends very much on what you do with the subject or the setting, and how interesting your main character and her dilemma are.
Flashbacks are frowned upon by some, but with this topic, they make sense, since holidays bring up memories of past holidays. Also, I assume this is a character/dilemma story rather than an action story.
You may have to do a little research - wade through the hundreds of current titles - to make sure your idea sounds like a fresh take on the theme. (It sounds like you're writing Young Adult, which narrows it down a little.) If there are a number of similar books, you may need to tweak the concept until you have something that sounds fresh.
Finally, you might consider mixing other genres in. YA usually has some element of romance. Could you add mystery, paranormal, suspense, disaster, fantasy, etc.? I realize these may be a stretch, but it's worth looking at all possibilities.