In writing a new novel, “The Summer of Christmas,” SUNY Oswego English and creative writing faculty member Juliet Giglio said the accomplishment was a learning experience that will help her students as well.

“The Summer of Christmas,” published in July 2022 and co-written by her husband Keith, connects to the pair’s success in writing annual star-studded Christmas specials for the Lifetime network –- “Reba McEntire’s Christmas in Tune” (2021), “Dear Christmas” (2020), “Christmas Reservations” (2019) and “A Very Nutty Christmas” (2018).

“I think writing a novel, it was intimidating at times, and it’s still intimidating,” Giglio said, “but I think that it’s been a great experience for me to try something new, and I would encourage students to do that as well.”

Deciding to write a novel instead of a screenplay was a challenge for Giglio because she had never done anything like it. She said writing this book with Keith, who is a member of the Syracuse University faculty, made the process a bit easier because they have been writing together for so long.

“And that helped us a lot, especially because when you have two people writing a book, you can’t sit side by side and write each chapter,” Giglio said. “So, with a very detailed outline we were able to divide up the chapters and we would do every other, that way one person would never get too far ahead of the next person.”

The plot follows the plight of a Los Angeles screenwriter, Ivy Green, filming a movie in her own hometown. Much like the Giglios’ Lifetime movies, the book features romantic complications and other twists and turns during Green’s holiday movie production in July.

Details, details

Giglio said the process of writing a novel is different than screenwriting because of the details, not the actual writing. Deciding to write a novel with a plot that’s loosely based on their Christmas movies made the writing similar to their other screenwriting projects but required rounding out a lot more details.

“It’s been different to learn how to describe in detail these places, and not only rooms and things, but describing in detail how people are feeling,” Giglio said.

While Giglio is currently on sabbatical writing a second novel and promoting the book, writing this novel helped Giglio see why students gave so many details in their screenwriting assignments when they first start her class.

“It gives me, actually, a better understanding of where they are coming from because most people have written fiction before they’ve written a screenplay,” Giglio said.

Oswego booksigning

The Giglios’ local book tour includes a stop at River’s End Bookstore, 19 West Bridge St. in Oswego, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, as well as other events around the region. SUNY Oswego senior Cambria Gordon will moderate the event and the Giglios will answer questions and sign books. Giglio says she loves signing books, especially for people she knows.

“There’s nothing better than coming to your home turf to do an event like this,” Giglio said. “I think it’s going to be so much fun and I’m hoping a lot of students come out.”

Giglio also said they will talk to the college’s Living Writers Series over Zoom at 3 p.m. on Sept. 21, the day before the River's End Bookstore event.

–- Written by Gabrielle Kroeger of the Class of 2023