the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Hey, so my WordPress Editor just an hour ago spontaniously switched to the Block Editor. which means I have NO IDEA how this post is going to turn out, because everything is super weird.

I met John on Twitter a while back, and we’ve chatted back and forth a few times. He’s a fellow science fiction and fantasy fan, a writer who loves mythology, a writer who seeks out wonder.

What started off as a project between friends, for their family, has turned into something much, much more. Several years ago, John and his wife Carol started a tradition of creating a Christmas book for their friends and family, with John writing the prose, and Carol doing the illustrations. These stories are now ready to shared with everyone, and every year, starting in 2020, Story Plant will publish one of John and Carol’s books. The first one, Raven Wakes the World, hits bookstore shelves next week. (Indiebound ordering link)

A tale of an artist rediscovering her own strength, Raven Wakes the World is a magical realism with a touch of romance, and the unforgiving environs of Alaska. If you are looking for a unique holiday gift for someone who loves modern mythology, this could be it! Click here to read a free preview.

You can learn more about John and his work at his website, JohnAdcox.com, and by following him on twitter, where he is @JohnAdcox.

ok, so funny story – when I emailed John these questions, I knew the illustrator’s name was Carol, I didn’t know that was THE Carol, John’s wife! That’s what I get for not doing my research, that’s for sure!

Little Red Reviewer: Congrats on your new novella, Raven Wakes the World! What inspired you to write this book?

John Adcox: That’s hard to answer. I’ve always had a fascination with mythology, and I love stories where myth bleeds out to enchant and maybe even heal our own more mundane world. I truly do believe that stories have the power to change and heal us. Sometimes, story might be the only thing that does. Not too long ago, I heard a pastor friend define religion as communal response to a story. Why not? After all, the language of God is parable and story. I think other people’s stories might have a power to reach us in a way that our own, more familiar ones can’t. And it’s telling, I think, that so many of our most sacred stories have echoes in cultures all around the world. The inspiration, I think, was to look at Christmas, and healing or rebirth, through a different cultural lens.

LRR: Tell about this story – what’s the elevator pitch?

JA: Katie Mason is an artist wounded in the soul after the end of a broken relationship. She’s fled all the way to Alaska to heal and to make art, but she hasn’t been able to do either. She’s cocooned herself, like the world in winter. But in the town of Aurora, Alaska, she meets a mysterious stranger who wakes her passions, and who has secrets. Soon she finds herself caught in an Inuit myth made real, and in a world where winter seems to last forever. If you’d like to know more, the opening chapters are online at http://ravenwakestheworld.com/.

 

What was your favorite scene to write in Raven Wakes the World? Where there any scenes that were unexpectedly difficult to write?

J.A.:Wow, that’s also really hard to answer! I think my favorite scene is the one where Katie first hears the story about how Raven stole the sun, the moon, and the stars and brought light to the dark world. It’s also the scene that inspired my favorite of the illustrations. The hardest to write, I think, was the end, when Katie faces her pain and starts to make hard choices. It’s always hard to write about pain and heartbreak. Sacrifice isn’t especially easy either, especially when it is for love.

LRR: I read on your blog that you and your wife have a family tradition of creating original Christmas stories. How did the tradition get started? Has it changed over the years? What are the elements that all Christmas stories must have, to be a good holiday story?

J.A.:My friend Carol Bales — she wasn’t my beloved wife yet; we weren’t even dating back then — and I had the idea to collaborate on a book to give our friends as a Christmas gift. I’d write a story and she’d draw the illustrations. We bound those first books by hand. People seemed to really like them. Raven Wakes the World was the first of them … although this version is extensively revised and expanded. Over the following years, we tried a number of different genres, including drama, an urban legend/ghost story, action/adventure, and even screwball romantic comedy. If there’s a connection between these books (aside from the fact that they take place in winter, which is absolutely my favorite season to write) it’s has to do with people who are somehow isolated and hurting, and who find their way back to home, family, community, and joy. Christmas is about birth and rebirth, and homecoming, and that seems almost universal in so many cultures. I think all of these stories have to do with people who are broken finding a way to be less broken, sometimes through a miracle. I’m not sure that’s true of all Christmas or holiday tales, but it’s certainly true of a lot of them, from A Christmas Carol to Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

John and Carol

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Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom

published November 2012

where I got it: Borrowed ARC from a friend

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In rural West Virginia lives 20-something Jesse Walker, and his life pretty much sucks.  His wife Linda has left him for another man, his musical career is a disaster, and his only job leads are running drugs for the local thugs.  It’s Christmas time, Jesse wishes he could afford gifts for his daughter, wishes he could make thing right with his estranged wife.  And then, he sees Santa. On a sleigh, with reindeer, complete with bottomless bag of gifts, Santa gets attacked by demons, and in the shuffle, Jesse ends up with Santa’s bottomless sack.

Ahh, but Santa isn’t who you think he is, and that bottomless bag never belonged to him in the first place. This is where the story gets interesting, with Brom weaving together Norse and Germanic mythology and the stories of St. Nick and the pagan solstice holidays that Christmas eventually replaced. Jesse may being pulling gifts for his daughter out of the sack, but now he’s got Krampus, the Yule Lord, on his tail.

Imprisoned by Santa and left to die, Krampus  has finally gained the strength to escape his chains. With the help of his supernatural Belsnickel servants, he’s learned the location of the sack. Although he looks the part, Krampus is not a devil. The original winter spirit,  Krampus reinvigorated our freezing ancestors, to give them hope that they could survive the long, harsh winter. Gaining strength and feeding his hatred towards Santa, Krampus now has everything he needs to turn Yule back to its original meaning.

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Did I miss anything?

oh yes,  Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton!  Also Dionysus and Mithra!  yay, presents and birthday candles all around.

We made latkes (cheese cloth is your friend. as is ventilation), we made Stollen (soak fruit in rum for an hour? bah! try all afternoon!), I totally hearted the geek out love on The Nerdist on BBC last night and will be watching Doctor Who all evening while eating greasy carb filled Chinese food. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Chris Hardwick’s interview with David Tennant was adorable. Also, not the only reason I watched the show. you can listen to the whole thing here

Cuz I’m lighting ye olde Chanukiah I got to open prezzies last week.  Husband and I exchanged mostly gag gifts, and he managed to find what I am now calling the best gift EVAR.  behold, the Frank Lewis book of Crosswords!  A cryptography and crossword building genius, the late Frank Lewis created The Nation crossword every week until shortly before his death. Not for the faint of heart, so far I’ve gotten one clue on the first puzzle. I figure I’ll finish this crossword book sometime around the year 2058. It is teh brainteasing awesome.

and on the subject of polar opposites I’ve been reading M.D. Lachlan’s Fenrir along side Tina Fey’s Bossypants.   I couldn’t get enough of Lachlan’s Wolfsangel, and I’ve a major girl crush on Tina Fey.  and Liz Lemon? totally my workplace role model. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but oh well.  Review of Fenrir should go up in a few days, as I haven’t even finished it yet.

the Vintage Science Fiction not a challenge starts next week, and if I’m going to make my goals, I better start reading NOW.  it’s not the books, it’s the business trips. I wonder if the library has any Asimov, Norton, or Heinlein audiobooks?

and just for random fun, here are some random holiday geek out pictures for you:

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.