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Interview: Tim Slover, Author of The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus

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A writer and professor of theater at the University of Utah, Tim Slover’s plays have been produced off-Broadway and in theaters throughout the United States and in London, a place dear to his heart and where he happily spends part of the year.  Mr. Slover is married with two sons, who just happened to be the original audience for The Christmas Chronicles

With Christmas around the corner, The Christmas Chronicles, The Legend of Santa Clause is a not-to-be-missed book!  I greatly enjoyed Tim Slover’s answers to my interview questions, showing a great sense of humor, and I hope you enjoy them as well!

Please tell us a bit about your book: The Christmas Chronicles — characters, plot, etc.

The Christmas Chronicles is a biography of a man called Klaus, who lived his mortal life in the 14th Century in the region of Germany known as the Black Forest. Later on Klaus became known by lots of names, including Santa Claus. The biography tells how Klaus came to be that person. It was a bit of a rough road, but he had some amazing help — from his beloved wife, Anna, from a remarkable reindeer, Dasher, and from the mysterious Green Council. He needed it because he was — still is, actually — plagued by a ruthless opponent, Rolf Eckhof. Plus, there were a lot of problems to solve, not least of which was how to deliver toys all over the world. The Christmas Chronicles explains how it’s all accomplished. I was amazed when I found out the truth.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

It would be the reindeer Dasher. I’ve always sort of suspected animals know a lot more than they let on to us. The Christmas Chronicles reveals just how smart — and how heroic — they can be. I mean Dasher carries a flight map of the entire world in his head! And he’s one of the bravest people I know of. Love to spend some time flying around with him!

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

Ok, I’m in a meeting with an editor — and let’s throw in a theatre producer and, what the heck, a studio head — and they’ve all just finished my latest manuscript, and they all say in unison, like a Greek chorus, only cheery, “This is just perfect. There is absolutely nothing you need to change. Take the day off.” You said fiction, right?

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set your “writing mood”?

This is absolutely, I promise, the truth: I write in a downstairs room in my house with two standing lamps which must be on, and some candles which must be lit (one of which should smell like something good; currently amber). There has to be music playing, or I get antsy, but it has to be music which relates to what I’m writing, and it can’t have words in English (duh). I like to have a drink going: diet coke, peppermint tea with a healthy amount of sugar (oxymoron, I know), hot chocolate (seasonal); I don’t like to have food; well, I like to, but for some reason when I indulge in food, I always end of feeling guilty and gross because something in my brain says I shouldn’t eat at a computer. And I play a lot of online solitaire before I start. But not during.

What are you reading right now?

A few things. I took a deep breath and started The Pillars of the Earth because I love cathedrals. I’ve never read Follett before, but I’m an instant fan. I’m also reading a lot of plays on topical issues: Ruined by Lynn Nottage, Enron by Lucy Prebble, Guantanamo by Gilliam and Slovo, and The Power of Yes by David Hare.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

I’m a proud Tolkien reader; also C.S. Lewis, especially Perelandra and Till We Have Faces. I have a deep love affair with the writing of P.G. Wodehouse; I believe Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves would save the world if the world would only let it. I’m rediscovering how much I like Hemingway because my son is reading him — I know, I know, all that macho bravado, but what a way with a sentence. I like The Moveable Feast best right now. And, not to be cliché, but I love Shakespeare. In fact, forget everything else I said: King Lear is the best thing anyone ever put on paper.

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’ve met some of my hero-writers (Tom Stoppard, for example), and it never works out for me. I’m too nervous, and I have so much gratitude to convey — plus I want to let them know that I and maybe I alone really appreciate what they’ve done — that I end up clamming up or saying something unfortunate. Of course, if the writer were dead, I probably wouldn’t be as nervous, except about catching something.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

Many of my favorite memories are Christmas memories. Here’s one: when I was nine we moved from Georgia to Raymond, Alberta, the ancestral home of my mother. We arrived at Christmas time, and I’ll never forget all those Canadian relatives welcoming us and putting on the best, most game-filled, food-stuffed Christmas ever. Don’t let anyone tell you Canadians don’t know how to party.

Please describe a perfect meal — including menu and those present.

For me the perfect meal is at a restaurant I can’t afford. So one of those present is picking up the check. I like all kinds of cuisines, but the perfect meal has lots of courses, plus surprises between courses to make us all ooh and ah. Like something with sparklers would be good. Now, there can be NO music playing: it inhibits conversational conviviality. Those present would be people I like who like me and like each other. No celebs. Sorry if that’s lame. Oh, and there should be something to take home with you, like a loaf of bread or a big cookie or maybe an iPod.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Sports on tv, unless my beloved teams are losing, and then I can’t stand to watch. Walking while reading while listening to music on headphones. Retail, esp. music stores (if you can find any), charming bookstores, cheap clothes stores, and really good grocery stores with samples. I also like making fires (in fireplaces) at night and talking to friends. Fires in fireplaces make people mellow, and then they’ll reveal their best secrets.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

London. Hands down. London. No question. London. Am I making myself clear? But with a direct space warp corridor to Maui.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know, this is an inconceivable thought, lol.

That author would have to be Amazon.com.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

A lot of my dreams are sick, self-serving ambitions of writing success. On the rare occasions when a dream of this nature has come true, it’s great for 15 minutes, then disappointing for 18 hours. I think my dream is to get better dreams!

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Music I shouldn’t like and am too embarrassed to share. Food I shouldn’t eat, but can anyone here live without Twix bars? V — that Anna is hot and dangerous. Staying at hotels in my own city.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Seek out someone with really good advice.

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About April Pohren

  • Billie Garrow

    I found your book at the library by chance two days ago. It looked like a fun read so I checked it out. I read it to my ten and twelve year old granddaughters and my husband on Christmas Eve, and found it to be a wondrous story with a message that is relevant to our times. Thank you for writing such a wonderful story. It will now be added to our Christmas Eve traditions.

  • This story is a radio drama too and Mr. Slover reads part of the story! The radio program is full of sound effects and music that really bring the story to life. It begins with the wind that Tim describes in the opening scene. There are two main readers–the modern day narrator (Tim Slover) and the narrator of The Green Book, Richard Johnstone.

    It is a fun and free listen for anyone this holiday. My nieces especially liked to hear the sound of the bells! Anyway, the series can be heard via the website of the station that produced it. Just go to Classical89.org and type Christmas Chronicles in the search box on the right; or you can just follow the link

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! And help spread the word! ?