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How my first novel became a Hollywood TV movie

12 Men of Christmas

Image from MyLifetime.com

It’s anything BUT a Merry Christmas for die hard New Yorker and publicist E.J. Baxter when she loses both her high powered Manhattan job and her lawyer-fiance on the same night at her office Christmas party. E.J. winds up taking a job and moving to the opposite end of the earth – Kalispell, Montana. To help the local search and rescue station raise desperately-needed funds, a la “Calendar Girls”, she tries to convince the male rescue workers to pose for a naked calendar and along the way discovers what really matters to her and wins the heart of Mr. December! Based on the book, Decent Exposure (Dating Mr December) by Phillipa Ashley.

The Story of the Movie

Most authors dream at some time that the book they are writing will be turned into a movie. I certainly did. But I never imagined, in my wildest moments, that it would actually happen to me!

My first novel, Decent Exposure – retitled Dating Mr December in the US – was written in 2005. It was my first ever attempt at a novel and almost the first piece of fiction I had ever written. Getting it published was a dream come true. When it won the 2007 Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award and topped the Play.com romance charts for several weeks, I thought I’d had way more luck than I deserved.

In October 2007, the novel was optioned by Fox. Someone told me that only a fraction of movies optioned actually get made into films so I got on with writing my other books. The Writers Strike came and went then the Global Economic Crisis hit the world. I’d all but given up on my little book making it to screen.

Then on May 27th 2009, I got an email telling me that the book – now titled 12 Men of Christmas – was going to be the flagship holiday movie on Lifetime. I almost fell off my office chair and I don’t think I’ve come down to Earth since that day.

In July 2009, I took my family to the Rockies to visit the set, meet the cast and crew and generally gather up a lifetime of happy memories.

Me and the cast of 12 Men of Christmas

From England to Montana

Decent Exposure/Dating Mr December is set in the English Lake District but Fox transferred it to the stunning Rocky Mountains.

Will and EJ

Image from MyLifetime.com

Emmy and Tony award winning actress, Kristin Chenoweth plays Emma or EJ, as she is known in the film. Josh Hopkins (Cougartown, Ally McBeal, The Perfect Storm) plays the hero, Will.

It premiered on December 5th 2009 at 9pm. All the show time details on the Lifetime page here.

Sourcebooks published the US version – Dating Mr December – in November 2010 in print and e-book.

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