The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert is the third book in Gillian St. Kevern's For the Love of Christmas! series, which includes The Ugliest Sweater and Ibiza on Ice. I highly recommend all of them, but The Charity Shop Rejects also can be read as a stand-alone. The whole series is a laugh riot, but Gillian also includes a lot of the anxiety that can come from "the most wonderful time of the year." This book is the perfect break from the hectic holidays.
Mikaal Sarhadi has been in trouble since the moment he met guitarist Declan Hyde. Declan treats music like religion, setting high standards for himself and his bandmates. Mikaal struggles to even step on stage. He will do anything to justify Declan’s belief in him—even if that means ignoring the powerful attraction between them.
After a chance meeting with Brandon, Declan’s estranged brother, reveals just how much Declan will sacrifice for his music, Mikaal wonders if he can even call himself a musician. Worse, drummer Hiro’s visa application has been denied. With time running out for The Charity Shop Rejects, Mikaal must conquer his stage fright or lose music—and Declan—entirely.
And now, I'm very pleased to have Gillian on my blog to answer a few questions about ugly clothes, the perils of the holiday season, and how to deal with self-doubt.
In the “The Ugliest Sweater,” Dan has a hideous Christmas sweater and refuses to give it up, even though his past boyfriends found it so embarrassing that they’d rather break up with him than be seen with him in it. Have you ever had an item of clothing that you knew was objectively pretty terrible, but still loved it nonetheless?
How did you know? I saw my ugly cardigan in a mall in Japan and it was so ugly I had to stop and point it out to the friends I was with. It’s a union jack design, but with tan instead of blue, and crimson instead of red. It’s got a black trim, and none of the buttons match. There’s even extra unnecessary buttons. It’s one of those ‘only in Japan’ clothing items. Anyway, after spending two days thinking about it, I went back to the mall and bought it--I kind of had to. Clearly I was the only person who could give it the love it so deserved.
In “Ibiza on Ice,” Dan’s ex-boyfriend, Aston, gets a redemption arc. He’s pretty obsessed with his reputation, but through the course of the story, Aston learns to be more comfortable with himself. Learning not to care about what other people think is a theme that runs through the series. Do you think there’s something special about the holiday season that helps make that sort of transformation easier?
I actually think it’s the opposite. The fact that the end of the year is a time to reflect on accomplishments and where people are combined with the fact that it’s a huge time for commercialism means that what should be a season for family, for thankfulness and special moments too often becomes about getting the best present, having the perfect Christmas dinner, and competing with friends and family for the best life. There’s so much external pressure from relatives, and a lot of internal pressure created by advertisers selling the perfect Christmas, that it is really easy to get swept up and lost in the seasonal madness. Which is why, I think, that the importance of recognising what matters to you and going for it is such a big part of this series. We all need this reminder--but we need it even more at this time of year!
In “The Charity Shop Rejects,” Mikaal has some self-doubts that are crippling his dreams of being a successful musician. How do you deal with self-doubt?
Usually, when I experience self-doubt, it’s because I’ve fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others--mostly other authors, but sometimes family members or friends whose careers are going places I’m not. When I recognise this is having an effect on my happiness and productivity, I take some time out for myself. I disengage from social media, and do something that makes me happy (usually reading a book, but most recently marathoning Baywatching, a Youtube series where a comedian reviews episodes of Baywatch). I then go back and spend some time doing what is most important to me--writing. When I’m back in a good writing routine and am feeling happy and productive, I’m ready to go back to social media. I’m also really fortunate that I have a number of good writing friends who I can share that I’m in a down mood and they can commiserate with me--because they’re in the same boat.
And finally, just for fun, what’s your favorite holiday movie?
The Santa Clause. I’m not a Tim Allen fan, but this movie--everything about it is gold. As a young kid with divorced parents, I really appreciated a holiday movie that didn’t center on a perfect nuclear family. The fact that Scott’s transformation into Santa Claus included making peace with his wife’s new partner was really special. There’s also the elves (I love Bernard! He is the best!) and there are some truly hideous sweaters in the movie, too.
The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert will go on live on December 18 and will be available at all major retailers. You can preorder your copy on Amazon and NineStar Press!