– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Group Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but b
About the Authors :
Heide lives in North Warwickshire with her husband and a fluctuating mix of offspring and animals. Iain lives in South Birmingham with his wife and a fluctuating mix of offspring and animals. They aren’t sure how many novels they’ve written together since 2011 but it’s a surprisingly large number.
Christmas is a time for families to come together.
Guin Roberts can’t think of anything worse than visiting a Christmas market with her new family. Guin is perfectly happy with her own company and doesn’t want that disrupted by her wisecracking stepbrother and his earnest mum.
Their Christmas celebrations are invaded by a sleigh full of murderous elves. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve been naughty or nice — these elves are out for blood.
Can the family band together to survive the night? Or will Santa’s little helpers make mincemeat of them all?
Guest Post :
The locations in which stories take place are important. Many of the stories Heide and I write take place in very specific and real locations. In our Clovenhoof series of books, the action takes place in Sutton Coldfield and you can go to the pub Clovenhoof drinks in or the church he causes all manner of trouble in. The Oddjobs books we write take place in the utterly real Birmingham I live in. The tunnels and hidden spaces and pieces of crazy history Morag and the gang encounter are really real and really there — we even have an Authors’ Notes section at the back to make this clear.
Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood is one of the other stories. We don’t make it clear where it’s set and some of the names are made up. And yet, it is based on some very real places. There are two very clear and very different locations that inspired Candy Canes.
The first is the village of Castleton in Derbyshire. I’ve just had to Google to check it’s a village, not a town because it’s a very busy village. The countryside around is dominated by sheep-covered hillsides, steep passes that are closed with the first snows and deep and dramatic caves that you won’t see anywhere else in the country. The village sits in a valley beneath a small but imposing castle. A river runs through it. Such a place is naturally popular with tourists so the village has several fine pubs and plenty of the kinds of tea shops I like. I like Castleton. It’s a distilled version of what people expect from the Peak District and from the English countryside. It is, for want of a better word, quaint.
For the purposes of our story, it was ideal. It was the kind of place our story family would choose to visit for a night away and its cutesy quaint charms hide the fact that, when it gets dark and the weather closes in, that corner of England can be an isolated and dangerous place. Britain doesn’t have much true wilderness but we city-dwellers forget that, out in the country, it’s quite easy to be stuck somewhere where doctors, police, tow trucks and food supplies can’t be swiftly summoned. Isolation is a key element of horror.
The other location that Candy Canes draws from is the German Christmas Market in Birmingham. It’s become a growing trend over the past twenty years for British cities to hold German-style markets in the city centre in the run up to Christmas. Birmingham’s is the largest such market in the UK, attracting 5.5 million visitors in 2018. It’s huge. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. Some people would argue that the stalls are the same stalls every year, that the ‘craftsmanship’ on offer is manufactured, that its horribly over-crowded and if you visit on a weekend, it’s like fighting through Black Friday sales. These people are correct. Other people would argue that its little alpine chalet stalls and German accoutrement transform the city into a charming village, that the food is delicious, the rides are entertaining and that it has a genuine Christmassy buzz about it. These people are also correct. Each year, I take my daughters there and we know exactly what we’re doing — get in early before the crowds, get a hot dog, a crepe, go on a carousel and buy a wooden instrument in the shape of an animal and a candle ornament for their mum. Fifty minutes later, I’m fifty quid poorer but it’s a true part of the Christmas experience.
For our book, we wanted to create a town that was 100% Christmas, as though the Birmingham Christmas Market had taken on a life of its own. Glühwein, gingerbread, nutcrackers, stollen, mead, baubles, lights — all of it, everywhere. We transplanted the heart of the German Market and placed it in our fictional town of Alvestowe (secretly Castleton).
Together, we hope we created the perfect setting for our Candy Canes story — a town overloaded with the quaintness and charm of Christmas in a rural village idyll but where, behind the scenes, wild dangers and secret figures lurk. And elves. Lots and lots of evil Christmas elves.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds