Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christine Verstraete, Christmas at the North Pole Compound

AUTHOR: Christine Verstraete
BOOK TITLE: Christmas at the North Pole Compound (short story)

DO YOU HAVE A GIVEAWAY?: 1 commenter on post will win an ebook copy (kindle or pdf) sent by writer.
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN?: Host can choose winner; email required to win.

Tell me a little about your title.
   It's not all Fa-la-la and Ho-Ho-Ho at the North Pole Compound when Santa's elves find someone's stolen the gifts! Can Chief Elf Investigator Finius Flaherty crack the case by Dec. 24th and save Christmas?

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
   For some reason, those cookie elves came to mind and I started thinking what the other branch of the family did. (ha!)

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
   Hmm... nope, I don't have a tree house. Never cracked or investigated a real-life crime. Does being nosy count?

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas theme?
   Christmas is such a magical time with all the lights, and anticipation by the kids who haven't lost that excitement. It's a perfect setting for a crime story, like the Grinch with a different setting. I like writing "cute" stories with a touch of humor.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?
... Besides trying to get excited about Christmas too early? It's like when the stores tried to push Christmas shopping in summer. Don't think it worked too well. ha! I actually hate thinking about shopping too early. But maybe there is someone who doesn't mind reading about another holiday out of season. And when it's hot out, who wouldn't mind thinking about snow and icicles?

What makes your book special?
   I like writing about unusual topics. It's fun to let your imagination roam.

What does Christmas mean to you?
   Christmas, of course, is foremost about the birth of Christ. It also is a great time for family get-togethers.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?
   I'll say it was from my childhood. I have a favorite photo showing me opening gifts. It's so nostalgic with the silver Christmas tree and gifts like the tin dishes I had unwrapped. Funny how it's stuffed under the tree today compared to the few gifts we got back then.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
   I love getting surprise pieces of jewelry. My sister and I often buy each other different inexpensive earrings we find.

What was your favorite Christmas present?
   Everyone might not know that I collect dollhouse miniatures, and also wrote a book, IN MINIATURE STYLE II, which has profiles and how-to projects. So, even though I have plenty of my own projects to work on, I still love getting something new in miniature. I always find a use for it!

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Nightmares kept me tossing and turning most of the night—dancing corned beef, talking snowmen, non-flying reindeer. I shivered. It was awful; horrid stuff.
I didn't have time to bemoan my latest bout of insomnia as the emergency bell clanged. Uh-oh. That meant big trouble. I couldn't remember the last time that bell rang.
Before I continue, let me introduce myself. I'm Finius Flaherty, Chief Elf Investigator. No, I don't bake cookies. I leave that to the West coast cousins.
My branch of the family was hand-picked by the big guy for his security team at the North Pole. Big responsibility, though I'd prefer to sit on a beach in Florida.
Not that I don't enjoy my job. I do; but unfortunately, our services have been needed more in recent years. Christmas spirit doesn't prevent crime, you know. We've been feeling that lack of spirit lately ourselves, too. Just ask Rudolph. This is a real hazard as even the smallest drop in Christmas cheer influences his ability to pull the sleigh. Can't have it dragging now, can we?
Since I couldn't sleep, I got up, made a fresh cup of sassafras tea, and took it to my office. With the wind kicking up and the size of the snowflakes, I'd decided to stay overnight in my workspace instead of trying to get home. Good decision. Looking out the window, I saw it was still pretty blustery. At my age, it's easier on nights like this to curl up on the pull-out sofa or snooze in my chair by the fireplace rather than try to brave a blizzard.
Sorry, I got sidetracked.
Anyway, I'd finally dozed off when that darn bell jolted me awake. My faithful secretary, Eveline, rushed in from her flat next door. Her shrieks were enough to shock me out of sleep on their own.
"Finius, you awake? Hurry! It isn't a false alarm. Something terrible's happened!"
"Okay, okay. I'm up. What happened?"
"Crime wave," she uttered, accompanied by several tsk-tsks and a lot of hand-wringing. "I can't believe it! Someone stole the Christmas gifts right off the loading deck!"


  1. The excerpt is wonderful. Thanks, Penny & Christine.

  2. Silver Christmas tree. Is that one of the aluminum ones so trendy at one time? Ah, I remember them well!

  3. Great excerpt. Sounds like it is a cute story. Getting me into the Christmas spirit in July for sure!!

  4. Congratulations, Joylene. You're our winner. Christine will be in touch with you.