Merry Christmas, Eric McFarlane!
How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?
Eric: Family. Love. Not-turkey
If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why? Eric: I’m tempted to say Rudolf but to avoid some aggro I’ll choose Prancer or perhaps Olive. It would be a short relationship as roast venison has always been a favourite.
If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?
Eric: It would be the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. First, I’d lock up those stupid kids. Then negotiate a truce with the white witch who has obviously staked her energy policy on the promises of the renewables industry (Oooh, controversy). I’d negotiate a shale gas concession with her and an open doors policy so that it can be piped to Narnia via a wardrobe pumping station. Once Narnia had warmed up the witch might be in a better mood and perhaps romance might blossom without the fear of frostbite. The lion, faun and the rest of them would go in the Narnia zoo to be enjoyed by the other citizens as a reward for happily paying the 50% income tax imposed on them to pay for the expanding Narnia Nuclear Programme.
Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?
Eric: I’d start where my own love of comic writing started with PJ Wodehouse. Thomas H Cook would provide the seriously good meat for the main course and Sofie Kinsella for a lightly spiced pudding. For coffee – Richard Feynman to give us a turn on his bongoes and explain life, the universe and everything as we fall asleep by the fire. Hmm, gender imbalance alert. Who else? Lauren Beukes for a turn to the dark side. Tess Gerritsen to keep us guessing and someone I’ve always wanted to meet ever since reading her first travel book Full Tilt and her quite astonishing autobiography Wheels within Wheels, octogenarian Irish travel writer Dervla Murphy. My goodness. I’m salivating. I really, really want this to happen.
If there was any time for eating it would be something fishy to start, prawns, smoked salmon, herring. A main course of leg of roast lamb with roast potatoes, or possibly some roast Rudolf, sprouts (hey it’s Christmas) and mint and rosemary jelly. Pudding, a choice of strawberry trifle, Christmas pudding (see sprouts) or a cheese board with Manchego, Dunsyre blue and Jarlsberg (auto-correct wants to change that to Carlsberg!) or just about any cheese that’s new to me.
After a short acceptance speech for my award from the turkey preservation society we would retire to a highland bothy to sit round a crackling log fire telling outrageous ghost stories.
If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?
Eric: A Cloudy Damp Affair: a novel of love, lust and Christmas overtime at the Met Office, with too much pudding.
Eric: Easy, commercialism. Or perhaps not commercialism as such. Commerce is how the world works after all. It’s inevitable. It’s the ready acceptance by so many that you show love by buying stuff no one wants. Christmas isn’t about stuff. It really, really isn’t. Whether it’s a commemoration of your God coming to save humanity or just a week away from work, it should be about giving yourself, giving your time to your spouse, your children, aunty Senga or the irritating bugger next door who might just be a little afraid of growing old alone. And if, really, he is just an irritating old bugger well, you tried.
Favourite Festive Word? Eric: Love.
Eric McFarlane was in the Christmas chair: Author of A Clear Solution. Published by Accent Press.