Friday, 12 September 2014

Christmas in September!

I have two books coming out this year, and the first one is just about to hit the shelves. That might surprise some people since the book is The Story of Santa Claus. Well, as it turns out, if you want a book to be a part of the Christmas rush, it is best if it is released in September. Before everyone gets up in arms about Christmas books coming out before Halloween (or even the month that includes Halloween), apparently this has more to do with supply chains and such than it does getting the books on shelves this early. Regardless, I think I’m entitled to be excited and to encourage everyone to start their Christmas shopping (extra) early!

I have written books for various reasons, usually for fun or money (or both), but I wrote this one specifically because I wanted to learn more about the subject. I knew a bit about Santa. I could name all of his reindeer. I knew he was originally a bishop named Nicholas and... well, that was about it really. So I set off on an academic journey to figure out the true story of Santa Claus, starting with the tales of St. Nicholas and doing my best to follow his development into the fat, jolly elf of today. On the way, I had to read some heavy texts; I even had to ask my bother-in-law to translate a work from ancient Greek. It was interesting, but difficult.

In the end, I took all that I had learned and tried to write it in a fun, family friendly narrative, that focused on the magical stories that led to our modern interpretation of Santa Claus. It includes the early stories of St. Nicholas’s life, such as his early gift giving, his appointment as a ‘boy bishop’ and his rescue of the three Roman generals. It then shares some of the great stories of his appearances after his death, where he time and again comes to the aid of children. From there it moves through the confusing years of the Reformation, the rise of other strange Christmas spirits such as Krampus, and the different faces of St. Nicholas, including Father Christmas and Sinterklaas. Finally, the book ends in America, where St. Nicholas takes on his modern form, thanks to writers and artists such as Washington Irving, Clement Clark Moore, and Thomas Nast. It’s all true, in its own way.

Throughout the book, I scattered little asides, explaining St. Nicholas’s supposed actions at the Council of Nicaea, his relationship to the Norse god Odin, and the extent to which Coca-Cola actually factors into his story.

It was my hope to bring a little bit of magic and truth back to the character of Santa Claus that I think has been lost in the last hundred years or so. In this, I was greatly aided by Peter Dennis, who provided all of the illustrations for the book, both black and white pencil drawings and several full-colour paintings.

So, if you know anyone that might need a bit more Christmas magic in their lives, might I suggest helping them discover The Story of Santa Claus?

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