Today I’m delighted to welcome Jenn Moffatt to my blog. Jenn’s one of my oldest friends and I’m thrilled to have her here today. Jenn’s novella Christmas Ghosts is the 2019 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar, Homemade for the Holidays.
Jenn Moffatt is a proud nerd. Raised on Star Trek, Dark Shadows, The Wild Wild West, and James Bond, she learned not to be afraid of things that go bump in the night and to have hope for the future of humanity. She grew up wanting to be a member of the Addams Family or part of the crew of the USS Enterprise—and she still does.
She’s been soaked to the skin for Chinese New Year and walked in the fog in Frisco. Went to high school in Sin City, and no, she didn’t live in a casino. Lived on the slope of an active volcano, and used to snorkel between classes in college on the Big Island. Now she lives in San Diego where she gets to see the ocean and wildflowers in the desert on the same day.
Jenn was born disabled, which gives her a deep understanding of what it’s like to be different, but she’s never let it hold her back. It just means she gets pretty good parking.
Dealing with the unexpected loss of his mother isn’t how carpenter Steve Browning planned to spend his Christmas. Hoping her costume jewelry can bring some happiness to others, he takes it to the local community theater, where he runs into his first love, Troy Baxter.
Troy’s trying to help his sister put on a gender-fluid version of A Christmas Carol,
but no one on the cast or crew knows which end of a hammer to hold let
alone use a power tool. Then a face from the past brings a present-day
miracle… one that could lead to the happy future they both thought they
gave up back in high school.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2019 Advent Calendar “Homemade for the Holidays.”
1 – How did you come up with the idea for Christmas Ghosts?
To be honest Christmas Ghosts wasn’t exactly planned. I was an editor for Dreamspinner for many years, and one afternoon I was talking to the Editor in charge of Advent, who knew I was a writer but unpublished. Trish challenged me to do a story in the two weeks that were left before deadline. Ten minutes later I had a plot based on real life Christmas events for my family.
Last Christmas I lost my mom, and my brother took her costume jewelry and clothes to the community theater where he lives to help them out. I thought it was the most wonderful idea, and it inspired my entire story. I went about creating Steve, who is NOTHING like my brother other than the donation and driving pickups. Troy and the rest of the theater crowd are all made up, as is Steve’s little brother.
2 – The story is set during a community theater production. Did you have to do much research or do you have some theater experience?
I used to hang out with the theater crowd in high school, but I never had the guts to attempt to be on stage myself. When I was in high school, I did my best to blend in with the normal people. I was the only disabled student in my class, and I didn’t want anyone to notice me. My only performing was in choir and having my sculptures on display. So no, no theater research for me, other than making sure there was a community theater in the city I set the story in.
3 – This is your first time in the Advent Calendar. What do you think is the most important element in this sort of seasonal story?
My goal was to make something happy come out of a very sad event. The holidays are hard for me. I’ve lost both my mom and dad 10 days before and after Christmas. I just needed to drag my head out of the mire of sadness and show that it’s not all bad. It does get better. We have friends and family who are there for us, if we let them help.
Steve needed to accept that help too.
4 – OK, so what CAN people expect from Christmas Ghosts? Give us a few high points!
Lots of dorky pop culture references. Steve and Troy are geeks. They’re also capable adults with real world problems that make them very normal. They’ve been friends since the first grade and were each other’s firsts in high school before adulthood made them walk in different directions.
Although the reason for the story is sad, it is not depressing. It’s meant to make the reader happy to share their journey back to each other.
5 – What’s your favorite seasonal play/musical/ballet?
Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday, that would be Halloween where I love to decorate and spoil the kids in our neighborhood. We’ve lived here long enough that the kids we gave candy to now have kids of their own!
Last Christmas I had virtual Christmas with my niece for lives in Ireland. We sat together on Facebook Messenger and watched Bestman’s Holiday and Love Actually. Thought it was pretty funny that we spent a few hours watching R rated movies for Christmas! This year, she’ll be with me and her dad too. I’m so excited. We haven’t been together for Christmas in eons although knowing us it’ll be take out Chinese and movies.
As for my favorite holiday movies/TV, that’d be the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Die Hard.