Today I’m talking to Wendy Clarke as she releases her Christmas short story collection, Silent Night. I asked Wendy to tell me all about her hero’s and heroines..!
Here’s what Wendy had to say…
Christmas Through the Eyes of Someone Else
What’s the perfect Christmas? It could be spending time with family and friends or having a quiet time in front of the TV with a box of Cadbury’s Roses and a Christmas Special of Only fools and Horses. Maybe it’s none of these but the chance to jet off to somewhere warmer and leave behind the hubbub of the festive season. Whatever your idea of the perfect Christmas, it’s sometimes nice to view this special time through the eyes of someone else.
‘Silent Night’, my collection of short stories previously published in national women’s magazines, has an assortment of main protagonists: male, female, old and young. It has been an adventure experiencing different Christmases through these thirteen characters’ eyes and It’s one I’d like to share with you.
Let’s start with the male POVs. The first character I’d like to introduce you to is Andrew from the story ‘Project Christmas’. There is no excitement for this young man in the lead up to the big day, just sadness, as the previous year he lost his wife. He wants to make Christmas for his children one that Paula would be proud of but it’s not an easy task. The hardest thing when writing this story was getting the level of emotion right – too much and it would become maudlin, too little and Andrew would appear uncaring. I hope I managed to get the balance right. How he copes at this difficult time, is by viewing Christmas as a project but will he succeed in making his children happy?
‘Is everything okay, Andrew?’ his sister asked. ‘Where are the children?’
Andrew stared dejectedly into his beer. ‘I sent them upstairs. They kept trying to help but you can see what happened.’ He swept an arm around the room in explanation.
‘I thought I could do it, Beth, but I can’t.’
Another young man whose Christmas is about to change, is John from the story, ‘A Christmas Present Called, Abbie’. Estranged from his wife, John has reverted to bachelorhood and his Christmases usually involve a pint or two with his mates. Not this year. This year, he is going to have to look after his young daughter Abbie while her mother is in hospital. Will seeing Christmas through the eyes of a seven-year-old help him to grow up?
‘Where’s the tree?’
I broke from my thoughts and looked at Abbie, standing in the bay window, staring out into the street.
‘It should be here.’ She spread her arms wide. Her stare accusing.
‘I don’t have a tree.’
‘Why not? It’s Christmas.’ Abbie folded her arms and waited for my answer.
A particular favourite of mine is rock musician, Callum, from ‘A song for Christmas’. To him, everything is a joke but his girlfriend doesn’t think that playing the fool makes Cal a good role model for her young son, Ben. Finding himself unexpectedly on his own, and with a tour coming up, Callum is finding Christmas a dismal prospect. But a sense of humour is important – especially to a little boy who has fallen ill.
Chris did a drum roll that was so loud I jumped.
‘What’s up?’ he said. ‘You’ve looked like a wet weekend… all wet weekend.’
I strummed my fingers across the strings of my guitar and stared out of the window at the rain that continued to fall from the December sky. The fields outside my house were as grey as my mood.
‘Come on, Callum. We need to lighten the mood. Arm wrestle? Bubble gum blowing competition? Pin the tail on the sound recordist?’
I tried to smile but my heart wasn’t in it.
Let’s move on now to the female protagonists. For my first example, I’ve chosen Bella from the story, ‘On My Own’. In this story, my protagonist is fed up with her Christmases being organised with military precision by her husband. Tired of always being the one to fit in with other’s arrangements, she decides to carry out her threat to spend Christmas in the coastal cottage she’s seen advertised in a magazine. When her husband refuses to come with her, she goes anyway. I wanted to see how Beth would grow when she broke out of the claustrophobic constraints of her marriage and the result surprised me!
I add the tinsel to the branches and do my best with the lights. Without Ryan’s precise input, or anything suitable to stand on, the strings of bulbs are rather bunched up and when I switch them on, they remain stubbornly unlit. The wind whines in the chimney and rattles at the sash windows. Looking at the angel leaning tipsily from the top branch of the tree, I discard the rest of my tea and open the Chablis instead.
My final example is from the story, ‘Do You Believe in angels’. The style of this story is more like a folk tale and is written from the point of view of a girl who lives in a cottage in a wood with her grandparents while her father is away fighting in the trenches. She longs for a tree with an angel but her grandfather has other ideas.
Where there should be an angel, there is only a branch of pointed fir. Her grandfather had told her that all angels were needed to look after the young men on the battlefields.
‘When will father come?’ she asks.
Her grandfather’s eyes narrow and her grandmother touches a finger to her lips. ‘Hush child,” she says, drawing her close so that the brooch at her throat presses against her cheek. ‘Hush.’
So now, you too have seen a little of Christmas through some of my characters’ eyes. There are nine other protagonists in my collection and I hope this has left you wanting to see Christmas through their eyes too.
Wendy Clarke – Biography
Wendy Clarke is a writer of women’s fiction. Her work regularly appears in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.
Wendy has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose and has just finished writing her second novel.
Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!
If you’d like to read ‘Silent Night’ order here
or copy and paste link below: