I’d first of all like to wish all of my readers who observe it a very Happy Christmas and to those who don’t Happy Holidays anyway.
I am something of a Christmas nut. My lovely partner Kathleen, being normal, is not quite as enthusiastic as I am. I insist on having a ceremony on the 6th December, when we put the decorations up, and again on the 6th January when they get taken down as well as celebrating every day in between. I also insist on cluttering up her living room window with electric Santas, snowmen and sleighs as well as covering every inch of the walls with decorations. She bears it all with good grace however.
A large part of my love for Christmas comes from Charles Dickens and, if I was honest, I’d have to admit that I consider A Christmas Carol just about the greatest work of fiction ever written. It’s a perfect little gem of a book and one I read again every Christmas. The whole thrust of the book is that it is possible for someone to be reclaimed from being a miserable old miser and turned into a caring human being solely by being made to remember everything about his past. This thought is compelling. We often forget what’s painful for us even if it’s the part that makes us human. A Christmas Carol tells us that there is hope, even for the worst of us.
Ghost stories have become part of Christmas too but telling scary tales during winter has probably been around since fire was invented. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and, upon the urging of my niece and nephew, I finally decided to do something about. I’ve now published a book of short ghost stories called 13 Ghosts of Winter and I’m hoping to get another supernatural tale called The Black Vaults Experiment published shortly. You should be able to guess which writers influenced my supernatural writings by the dedication for The Black Vaults in which I thank Montague, Edgar, Ambrose, Herbert and Howard. These are of course M.R. James, Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce, H.G. Wells and H.P. Lovecraft. As I state in the foreword for 13 Ghosts of Winter –
‘These stories should be read, either alone or in company, in a darkened room while the chill of a winter’s frost sparkles outside the window. Ideally it should be after dinner and a drink should be easily to hand so that the spell of the tale isn’t broken. There is nothing better in this world than to be warm and snug in familiar surroundings while reading tales of ghosts and things that go bump in the night.’
So what’s Mac Maguire got to do with Christmas? Well I remember reading some Maigret stories many years ago that were set at Christmas and, since I’ve been writing detective fiction, I’ve had the idea that I should do one for Mac too. As I’ve been tidying up The Black Vaults and working on ‘Mac 7’ (I haven’t got a title yet) I just haven’t been able to fit it in this year but I’ve now decided that I’m going to start writing it in the middle of next year so that I’ll be sure of having something ready for next Christmas. So watch this space.
So, being a Christmas nut and a Dickens fan, I’d just like to repeat Tiny Tim’s words –
‘God bless us, every one!’