It was Christmas time, three years ago, when I was working on a middle grade book that the idea for Hot Chocolate for Santa Claus came to me. We were putting out milk and cookies for Santa when my wife asked if anyone wanted some hot chocolate. My middle child, Madison, who was then six, said maybe we should leave some out for Santa, too.
I had been promising to write a story “for her” and her idea gave me the inspiration.
Could you give me a short synopsis on the story for my readers?
Hot Chocolate for Santa Claus begins near the very end of Christmas Eve. Santa and his elves are down to their last two neighborhoods of the night. After a long night of delivering presents around the world, they are ready to get back home to Christmas Castle where they will have a chance to open their own presents.
At Santa’s last stop of the night, he picks up a thermos of hot chocolate that he will be able to drink on the flight back home to the North Pole. It’s a treat he has been thinking about all night.
As Santa flies back home to Christmas Castle, he tells one of his elves, Evan, the story of why Madison began leaving hot chocolate out for him.
The tradition started many years ago when Madison wrote Santa a thank you note. In the thank you note, she asked Santa if there was anything he might like from her for Christmas. Santa wrote back that a cup of hot chocolate to drink on the flight back home would be a wonderful treat.
The illustrations are lovely. Can you tell me about the illustrator?
One of the things I like best about Hot Chocolate for Santa Claus is the illustrations. I was extremely fortunate to find an incredibly talented illustrator named Iryna Bodnaruk. Finding her was pure serendipity, and I can’t imagine the book without her art work.
Ira is, in my opinion, an amazing talent. Each time she sent me a finished picture it was like getting a Christmas gift. One of the best parts about working with Ira was the way she could take an idea I had for a picture and then improve on it in ways I could not have imagined.
One example is the picture in the book of Santa’s sleigh flying between neighborhoods. I envisioned it as a typical “camera angle” shot, but Ira drew it from the perspective of looking down onto the sleigh as it flew through the night. It was so creative and not something I would have thought of.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
My two favorite Christmas traditions at the moment are driving around and looking at Christmas lights with my kids, as well as drinking a glass of red wine and looking at my Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music.
Are you more of a Christmas Grinch or do you look forward to the Christmas holidays?
I always enjoy late Fall and the Christmas Holidays. Football season is in full swing, college basketball is beginning, and between the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, I know I’ll get the chance to see family, have some downtime from work and enjoy some good food.
When you are not writing Christmas books what other fiction or non-fiction writing do you do?
I’m currently in the revisions’ stage of a crime novel with a working title of Hallways in the Night(the title derives from Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.”) This is a book I have been working on for several years and writing it has been one of the great joys of my life.
It’s the story of an Atlanta police officer who is put on trial by a corrupt DA. I am hoping to have this book finished by the middle of 2013.
This is a lovely Christmas book and if you would like to make it one of your books for giving or keeping, it is currently available on Amazon in both soft cover and electronic formatting.Here's the link