The year of the pandemic has left us with most unusual memories of this strange experience. I was writing The Mystery of Canon Cove in February when we had the first intimations of what was to come. When it came time to write the Christmas story, it was inevitable that the virus would be a character in the action. I had thought to use bad weather as the calamity that might force Santa’s sleigh down in Seattle; it was a well-worn trope, of course, having forced Father Christmas down in a sand storm in the Dubai desert and into the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai on another occasion. I settled on Father Christmas’s faulty Covid Safe Plan as my device this year and Ashby, rather than Katie and Emily, has to come to his assistance.
The setting in Seattle is as real as it can be in a fairy tale. The lively street life of Fourth Avenue and the interesting souls at the Uptown Espresso are the genuine article. Yes, there is a hip barista, elegant dogs and Amazon employees in jeans and hoodies in the coffee shop – and plenty of homeless people on the streets outside. I also wanted to reference the extraordinary political events of the United States in this bizarre year and so the Proud Boys make an appearance in the story. I try to be as fair as I can with Jethro; Eddie and Dennis are pantomime villains, however, with an alt right flavour.
This is a family story and some of the jokes won’t translate outside the family circle for whom it was written. I was very happy with the story when it was finished and I’m sure that Ashby will come to love it when she is old enough to engage.