Magic. Myth. Miracles. They say there's truth in legends.
The real Santa Claus is nothing like you’ve imagined. Get ready for the Christmas love story of a lifetime.
Last Christmas, Erin came home to be with her dying mother. This Christmas will be a year, and Erin still can’t move on. Fortunately, everything in her life is about to change. A behemoth dog named Klaus and Reason-the-handsome-realtor enter the picture, and together they turn Erin's life upside down...in a good way.
Reason offers to help Erin sell her mother’s house, an effort that turns into a circus of fiascos. Just when it seems her luck can't get any worse, Erin finds herself falling in love with Reason, the man of chaos himself. But he’s more than he seems, and now Erin is immersed in the clandestine world of the Santa Society, a centuries old secret organization that protects the truth behind Christmas.
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
I was born and raised in Georgia. I was the shy kid who spent most of her time reading and stocking up on books at the local library. By the age of nine or ten, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I remember scrawling out the start of a novel on notebook paper, but I abandoned it when I realized I didn't know enough about subways or life as a runaway in New York City to write it.
I grew up, studied religion, and became a wife and mother. And I continued to dream of writing a novel, until a New Year's resolution in 2012 resulted in my first novel. Life deepened me and gave me something to say, something I couldn't have said when I first daydreamed of writing as a little girl.
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I do most of my writing in the mornings. That's when I'm at my best.
Could you tell us a little about your novel?
The Santa Society is a love story that takes place at Christmas. It offers romantic comedy, suspense, a touch of fantasy, and an original retelling of the Santa Claus legend that will totally surprise you with the way it weaves folk tradition with Christian themes.
Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created?
The story takes place in the fictitious town of Christmasville, Idaho where Christmas is the focal point year round, the community depends largely on holiday tourism, and The Santa Society is a global secret organization that is headquartered there. I don't want to give away too much, though :)
Where does the inspiration for you main character and story come from?
I was inspired to write this novel while driving cross-country with my kids in the middle of December back in 2011. The trip took five days, and we passed the hours by singing Christmas songs. It was such an amazing thing to experience this beautiful country out on the road during winter and to follow the landscape as it changed from day to day and hour to hour. And above it all was this magical starry sky. It was a special trip, being with the kids and feeling the excitement in the air. It was the first time since I was a a little girl who wanted to b a writer that I'd felt so much was possible. I decided I would write a novel that brought back that magic.
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life?
I didn't sit down to write a specific message, only to communicate a feeling--the one I experienced during that road trip, which was similar to what I remembered from my childhood back when I believed in Santa Claus. The message of faith, hope, and love emerged as the story unfolded and revealed itself of me.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
I don't work from an outline. I hold in my mind only an idea of the journey of the story, which usually changes so much it doesn't turn out anything like I expected. I like to write this way because it lets me experience the surprises in an organic way, similar to the way my readers will.
Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work?
I write on my iPad, and I try to do it fast enough that I hold all the plot details in my head without extensive notes. I do keep a notebook where I make notes for things I need to remember to check or fix later in my editing for factual accuracy, consistency, or deepening of the story.
How does this book differ from what you have written in the past?
My first book, Outrunning Josephine Finch, was as serious as the first day of school. It was written in the spirit of Southern literary tales, focusing on family relationships, female belief systems, purpose, and the meanings we place in our mother/daughter roles.
In contrast, The Santa Society is my second book, and it was like the last day of school before summer or Christmas Break. It was just a lot of fun. It thrilled me to write it and when it ended, I felt that same bittersweet satisfaction as though I'd just finished reading a favorite novel.
How have the changes in present day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer?
They haven't impacted me except that I no longer think years must pass between releases. I realize my career as an author is in my own hands, and I think readers today want to feel some sense of interaction with their favorite authors. So I think the changes we've seen and the whirlwind of social media all point to an emphasis on authors as real people.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
The two best pieces of advice i can give are: Don't give up. And make sure you join a critique group.
If I hadn't done the latter, I'd probably never have had the guts to put my stories out there for others to read. Critique groups really help you learn to look at your writing critically and figure out how it make it better.
Could you tell us what you’re working on now?
Right now I am working on an inspirational contemporary romance. I can't talk too much about it yet, but look for it in early 2014.
About Kristine McCord
I’m currently a stay at home author/weathered mom living in Idaho. I grew up in the South among the tall Georgia pines. I miss the South and Southern culture a lot, but I’m really blessed to be surrounded by the wide open spaces, rugged beauty, and wonderful people I’ve met here in the Northwest.
I spent a lot of time in school figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but I didn’t dream big enough to really commit to it, and instead, tried to pursue more practical things, like science and IT. I’m more of a creative, abstract thinker (read: scattered) so many of those practical things didn’t really feel like a good fit. Instead, I changed to things I wanted to know about that interested me. I completed a B.A. in religion and went on to study Marriage and Family Therapy. And of course there was all that life learning I did. Finally, I made a New Year’s in 2012 and completed the rough draft of my first novel that February, followed by my second in November of that same year. I sometimes wish I would’ve done dreamed bigger much earlier and wonder about all the books I had in my head and never wrote, but mostly I try not to think that, because in the end, I wouldn’t be able to write the books I can write today—the ones that will be shaped by all that learning and living I did in between.
The Santa Society is my second novel. I first decided to write a Santa Claus novel after traveling cross-country in December with the kids, singing Christmas songs and feeling like we were on an adventure. We had so much fun being together, seeing the beautiful countryside. It put me back in touch with what it felt like to be a kid, while seeing God’s signature in creation through my adult eyes. Winter seemed more beautiful than I’d ever seen it, especially beneath the starry sky. I wanted to write something that captured that feeling and the magic we leave behind in childhood.
So a year later, I brainstormed The Santa Society with my writer’s group and began writing about a real life Santa Claus. I think they thought I was a little crazy at first. I didn’t have an outline, but from scene to scene I just “knew” what needed to happen next, and I discovered a lot of surprises along the way. It was published in October 2013, and has been an Amazon bestseller in Inspiration Romance and Christian Romance. And recently, The Santa Society was awarded a 2013 Idaho Top 10 Book Award. It’s been a really exciting way to start off the Christmas season this year.
WE SIT AT A TABLE near the back, in a private corner of the North Star Inn’s upscale restaurant. I would have been quite content with a barbecue sandwich or an all-you-can-eat buffet, but I’m in heaven as I take my last bite of elk filet dipped in béarnaise sauce.
I chew with abandon, wondering why I’m not taking delicate bites and worrying about how I look while I’m eating. My disastrous dating history tells me I shouldn’t neglect this particular female tradition, but my frame of mind takes his relaxed, easy manner to heart. I’m not in New York sitting across from Don the stockbroker guy, or Thomas the international trade expert, or even Trevor the plastic surgeon. He’s not telling me about his last bad date, his first failed marriage, or how wealthy he’ll be in seven years with his diversified investments and eye for opportunity.
He lifts his wine glass with enormous fingers and takes a sip like he’s plucked a tiny flower. He still wears his red and black plaid flannel jacket, reminding me of a giant lumberjack with a child’s tea set. No, this is not New York, and he’s not like anyone I’ve dined with before—thank the Lord.
“The wine is excellent.” He closes his eyes and swirls the liquid beneath his nose. It’s not pretentious, just appreciative.
“Would you like another glass, sir?” The waitress tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and lowers her lashes as she offers him a demur smile.
“No, thank you.” He returns a polite half-glance in her direction.
Rick the hairdresser probably would’ve offered her a coupon to be his for an hour. Not Reason. He doesn’t care that she keeps flirting with him.
Instead, he looks at me with a grin that twists on one side in a way that makes me flush. “Are you sure you don’t want a glass?”
“Sure. I’ll try it.” Or maybe I’m just showing off in front of the waitress, who hasn’t looked at me once.
“Please bring the lady a glass.” He looks in my eyes with a steady gaze.
“Of course, right away.” Disappointment flattens her voice.
He’s definitely a handsome man. Not just when you first meet him. With each encounter, he grows even more magnetic. She’s probably visited this table, all together, as many times as I’ve seen him since I first met him. I wonder if the effect is similar for her. He doesn’t seem to notice this about himself at all, which is probably the essence of his magic.
Minutes later, I take my first sip of wine—the first in years. At least since Benjamin the banker thought two glasses of it would allow him to maul me in the theatre. Since then I’ve abstained altogether.
He’s right. The wine is excellent.
“So, I was thinking, would you like to be in the Christmas parade with me on Saturday?”
I almost choke.
“The Christmas parade?”
“Yes.” His eyes twinkle.
“What will you be doing in the parade?” I imagine his truck decorated with S & S Realty banners hanging from the sides, with the two of us inside waving.
“I’ll be Santa.” He leans forward and watches my reaction.
“I didn’t expect that.” I totally didn’t. I try to imagine him in a Santa Suit.
“No, I wouldn’t have pegged you for Santa.” In my mind, I’m trying to make the image of a big belly, Santa hair, and the whole white beard thing come together with the man I see across the table.
“Not jolly enough? Or maybe it’s the hair?” He scrubs his palm over the stubble on his head then rubs his knuckles across his smooth jaw. He casts a sideways glance at me while his face is tilted to the side, as though I am a mirror.
“Well, it could be that, but I don’t know.” I can’t help but laugh, he looks so endearing. “What part will I play? My mother kept a lot Christmas stuff, but I don’t think I remember her having any elf suits. I just can’t really see myself riding through downtown wearing a tunic and green tights.”
He chuckles. “Elves always complain about that.”
“You have a lot of elf friends?”
I take another sip of wine and warmth spreads through my veins, relaxing me all over. “No, just Klaus. He probably wouldn’t mind being an elf. But if you need a reindeer, he’s your guy. I’m telling you that’s one strange dog. Somehow he fits himself through a poodle sized dog door, if you can believe that. I never catch him in action, but I’d love to see it. Maybe he flies too.”
Reason laughs—a little too loudly. It bursts from his throat and startles the elderly man at the next table. “The dog door, huh? What a clever guy.” He lowers his eyes and leans forward on his elbows.
Just as I wonder if it’s something I’ve said, he lifts his eyes and resumes his steady gaze. I chalk it up to nothing. For all I know, the server winked at him over my shoulder.
“Actually, I don’t have a Mrs. Claus.” He has a sheepish look about him now, complete with reddened cheeks. His face intrigues me. The expressiveness in it reminds me of the colors of sunset spreading across the sky.
“No Mrs. Claus? Well, that’s good news. You’d be in a lot of trouble right now, Mister.” I use my hand to gesture at the interaction between him and me.
His laughter rumbles like low thunder.
It lulls me forward and I rest my chin on the heels of my palm, propped on my elbow. In fact, we are sitting in exactly the same position. Out of the corner of my eye, I see our reflections in the window. In profile, we form the shape of a lopsided heart.
I forget I haven’t answered him, until he says, “I think you’ll be much more comfortable in the Mrs. Claus suit. It’s much warmer, and far less revealing. ”
“Okay.” How can I turn down being married to Santa, especially this Santa, for a day? “But I have to forewarn you, I’m very shy in front of crowds.”
“That’s okay. I am too. We’ll be in this together.” He’s like a force of nature—elemental and powerful. He watches me take another few sips of wine. As I set the glass back on the table, our server returns to clear our plates.
When she’s gone, he leans toward me like he wants to tell me a secret. Instead, he asks, “Do you ice skate?”
“No, I don’t. Sorry.” I wince as I remember the last time I tried.
“That bad, huh?”
“I promise I won’t let you fall.” He still leans forward.
I look deep in his eyes...and I believe him.
This is what people are saying-
This novel completely caught me off guard. I got swept up right away. The story had something in it for everyone, and the reinvention of Christmas legends was so surprising. I really enjoyed it from start to finish, and I doubt I will ever forget it.
Can't wait for this author's next book!
A holiday story about a grieving woman, a man with a "gift" and a whole lot of Christmas magic!
I LOVED how the author blended the Santa legend with the more traditional baby Jesus in the manger and put a truly new spin on the whole thing. And the dog pretty much has super powers :-)
There's also a little suspense thrown in, a wedding, elves, mistletoe and a town all about Christmas.
This is your holiday version of a "beach read". Highly enjoyable