In Victoria Alexander’s second Christmas-themed historical romance, What Happens at Christmas, twin sisters Camille and Beryl hire actors to play their relatives and create a picture-perfect family Christmas that might entice a foreign prince to propose to Camille. Then Camille’s former flame arrives and joins the pageant, setting off a series of hilarious disasters.

What inspired this comedy of errors?

It struck me that, at least in my family, the first time the family as a whole met someone’s significant other was at the holidays—usually Christmas or Thanksgiving—or special events. From that original thought, the idea evolved away from simply meeting one’s family with all their quirks and foibles to making a better impression with, obviously, a better family.

How do you decide how sexually explicit your books should be?

It really depends on the characters and how sexually explicit their attitudes are, as well as their evolution in the story. It’s also very much the culmination of the sexual tension I’ve built up. I think readers would be really disappointed if the tension between the main characters has built through most of the book and then after “They fell into each others arms” I followed it with “The next morning.”

Where does your sense of humor and timing come from?

My life has always been a bit of a poorly written sitcom—roofers chasing possums in the back yard, toddlers putting bubble bath in the toilets, children locking themselves into handcuffs at garage sales. I’ve always figured, either you see the humor in it and you laugh or you cry. I’d much rather laugh. I also grew up on romantic comedies. As a kid, I loved to watch romantic comedies with Marilyn Monroe or Doris Day and Rock Hudson. My favorite TV shows now are either outright comedy or have a healthy dose of comedy in them.

Christmas romances show up in every genre: historical, contemporary, western, even erotic romance. What makes it so appealing for romance writers and readers?

Magic. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s a special time of year. (The ultimate Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, only makes the vaguest reference to religion.) People are kinder and more generous. Strangers smile at one another on the streets. The air is full of promise and optimism. I think that’s why it’s so appealing as a setting for fiction. There’s the feeling that anything can happen, no matter how farfetched. I grew up in the Air Force. One year when I was very young, it was a few days before Christmas and my dad was away. I came home from somewhere and my mom said there was a surprise for me in the other room. I thought it was an early present and it was. My dad was home in time for Christmas. I still remember the cold feel of his uniform against my face when my dad hugged me. Like I said—magic.