‘I drew a little bit from Scandinavian folklore. I have some Norwegian family so that helps.’
Father Christmas and Me is your third book in your festive series published by Canongate Books. What initially inspired you to write a children’s book about Christmas?
I had just written Reasons to Stay Alive and wanted to write about the opposite of depression. So when my son Lucas asked me what Father Christmas was like as a child, I thought a Santa origin story would be just that.
The books in the series all feature compelling young characters who are simultaneously very ordinary – Nikolas lives in poverty in rural Finland while Amelia is a chimney sweep in London – and extraordinary. How did these characters come to you?
I thought it would be a good idea to give Father Christmas – Nikolas – a tragic childhood, to give him a reason WHY he wants to do what he later does. And Amelia also. I wanted to make the happiness that comes to them later to feel earned, for them to have found the light in the darkness.
In Father Christmas and Me we meet Amelia, the heroine from the second book The Girl Who Saved Christmas, again. Can you tell us a little about her new adventures?
Most of this book is set in Elfhelm, not Victorian London. So it is about her being a fish-out-of water among the elves, about how hard it is to fit in at her new school, and what series of events occurs after she crashes a sleigh.
Did you look to any particular stories or folklore while writing the books?
Not specifically. I drew a little bit from Scandinavian folklore. I have some Norwegian family so that helps.
All three books are accompanied by enchanting illustrations by Chris Mould. How did this collaboration come about and can you give us some insight into how the process worked?
Canongate gave me a list of potential illustrators and Chris’s work stood out as the most fitting – fairytale classic but with a dose of humour – so we went with him. And it was an amazing choice.
What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
The collective sense of anticipation on Christmas Eve.
After publication of Father Christmas and Me what is next for you?
More writing for boring old grown ups.
Father Christmas and Me, the third book in Haig’s bestselling Christmas series, is out now published by Canongate Books priced £12.99.
This interview also appears in the Autumn/Winter New Books Scotland publication for 2017 produced in partnership by Publishing Scotland with Creative Scotland.
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