Debbie McGowan talks Boughs of Evergreen and The Trevor Project

Boughs of Evergreen

boe_cover_vol01The idea for the anthology started out as a little spark – mostly of indignation, really. I had a few conversations over the summer with different authors, all of whom had recently had a story turned down by publishers, for no other reason than it lacked the sex factor. So I asked if I could have a read of these stories. They were brilliant!

It got me thinking about the LGBTQ fiction Beaten Track already has out there, and how it differed from the gay holiday fiction I read rather a lot of last Christmas. Aside from the saucy stuff (because some of the LGBTQ fiction we publish does have saucy stuff, but not always), it was how deep the characters were, and the exploration of feelings, experiences and relationships – lovers, family, friends. Add in that wonder of the holiday season… yes, OK, getting through Thanksgiving or Christmas isn’t always plain sailing; it can be stressful and in the real world not everyone gets their happy ending. But authors have the power to make happy endings, or at least offer a glimmer of hope for the future.

I truly believe in the power of story-telling. A good story can fill you with possibilities. It can teach you about love and respect. It can make you think about things differently. It has the potential change the world. Stories are bit magical, really.

Boughs of Evergreen hopefully captures that magic.

Themes of family, friendship and romance take readers on a journey through some of the major holidays, both past and present, including Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Eid, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas and New Year. In each we find at the very least hope, and often love, peace and happiness.

Stories will also be published individually as ebooks on 1st December, 2014.

Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to The Trevor Project (see below).

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A Midnight Clear

It’s a cold, desperate December when a young girl flees home, in search of food, shelter and the real Santa Claus. Stranded in George and Josh’s hometown, she discovers that the spirit of Christmas can be found in the most unexpected of places.

Includes the story of The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen.

My own contribution to Boughs of Evergreen was inspired by the story of The Little Match Girl, which I first read when I was about eight years old, maybe younger than that, and it made me sad that a little girl could die of cold when all it would have taken to save her was one person to notice her and buy some of her matches, or look out of their window and maybe invite her in to get warm. Stories like that turned me into who I am today.

The girl in my story, like most homeless people, is largely invisible to passersby, and when people do see her, it’s not always a good thing. But sometimes, just as you’re about to give up hope, the right person comes along…

Strange that such anger could calm so quickly. She nodded to herself and smiled, feeling kind of warm all over now, because that’s what rage does. It makes the blood pump, forces the body to fight back, although her head was aching and she was still starving. Nothing to be done about it, she rolled onto her side and curled up as tightly as she could, pulling her knees inside her jumper. The pavement was unbelievably cold and hard against her hip and thigh. She put up with it for as long as she could, and flipped onto her other side.

“Hey! Are you OK?”

She jumped at the suddenness of the question and banged her head against the shop front.

“Fine,” she said, staring at the stranger, his features shadowed by the streetlamp behind him. She closed her eyes and put her head down again, hoping he’d take the hint and move on. But he didn’t.

“I, err…” he began, then nothing else. She listened, still with eyes shut, to the sound of coins jingling. She opened one eye ever so slightly and watched the man, now with his hand in front of him as he studied the coins on his palm. He put the coins away and reached into his back pocket, advancing very slowly. “Here,” he said, waving something at her. A fiver, maybe? She couldn’t tell. She shuffled into a sitting position. The man crouched in front of her. She stared at the note in his hand.

“I’m not a prozzie,” she said.

“Sorry?” He lost his balance and wobbled on his toes.

“A prostitute,” she clarified. “I’m not one of them.”

“Ah. I get you.” The man laughed quietly. “I didn’t think you were. I mean…” He paused and sighed. “It’s cold and I thought maybe you could go to the twenty-four hour McDonald’s and, I don’t know, hang around the place, munching fries really slowly, or something. Stay out of the cold awhile.”

A Midnight Clear is included in Boughs of Evergreen Volume One – just one of the 23 stories that make up this anthology. We would love for you to buy our anthology and enjoy our stories, especially as the proceeds are going to The Trevor Project.

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The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization [USA] providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

We decided to support The Trevor Project because the work they do is so important. Being a teenager isn’t easy for anyone, and for those of us who don’t ‘fit’ for whatever reason, the difficulties we face can be life-threatening. Suicide rates for LGBTQ young people are four times those for straight young people.

Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its accredited, free and confidential phone, instant message and text messaging crisis intervention services. A leader and innovator in suicide prevention, The Trevor Project offers the largest safe social networking community for LGBTQ youth, best practice suicide prevention educational trainings, resources for youth and adults, and advocacy initiatives.

Buying Boughs of Evergreen is one way you can support The Trevor Project. We also have a fundraising page where you can donate:

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To find out more about Boughs of Evergreen, the stories, the authors, and where to buy, visit:

Much love,

Deb (ed) x



  1. // Reply

    Thank you so very much for producing this wonderful anthology, Deb, and for the opportunity to be part of it! It’s such a total win/win!!! Readers get 23 of the most delightful holiday stories it’s ever been my pleasure to read, and The Trevor Project gets support for their crucial work. It truly warms my heart to see so many people going the extra mile—putting not only their money, but their time, effort, and creativity “where their mouth is” as it were. As you said, getting through the holidays can be a rough time for anybody, but add to that the difficulty of being “different,” and it’s all too easy to imagine a young person being pushed over the edge. Just the idea that this book might play some small part in easing someone’s burden, let alone saving even one precious young life, is more than I can stand without welling up a little. So, again, thank you!

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