As promised, here is our Behind The Scenes look at “Best Christmas Ever”, the Michiko and Beth holiday short story! If you haven’t read it yet, scroll up; if you have, it’s been revised, so you may want to read it again! There are spoilers ahead, so read on after the cut!
I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas. I try not to jump in until after Thanksgiving, but from Black Friday right up until Christmas Eve, I’m catching Grinch and Charlie Brown Christmas reruns, squeezing in another reread of A Christmas Carol, and finding new tunes to add to my Christmas music collection (closing in on 400 mp3s). When I realized that Michiko would love Christmas even more than I do, and that Beth might have reasons to be ambivalent about the holiday season, the story came together quickly.
“Best Christmas Ever!” was actually written in 2013, back when I was expecting the first Monkey Queen book to be published a lot earlier than it actually was. I loaded it with all sorts of references to Christmas and the holiday season, though I didn’t leave out the main reason that Beth had to celebrate the day (before she met Michiko, anyway). It ended up sitting on my hard drive until November 2014, when with two books out, I finally cleaned it up slightly and posted it.
There are some moments in this story I’m quite fond of. One of them is when Beth tells April the truth about Santa Claus…and a bit of the real truth. I love those moments in Christmas specials when the “true meaning” is mentioned or shown. Come on, who doesn’t get a bit of a chill when the Grinch realizes why the Whos are still singing on Christmas morning? I wanted to write a moment like that, and even if I didn’t succeed, I still like it..
And I’m also happy that Gregor got to provide a bit of holiday grumpiness. Krampus is going to be after him at this rate…
On less happy matters: The version of “Best Christmas Ever” I just posted has been revised from the original version, which has been taken down from this blog and elsewhere. It’s been indirectly pointed out that overzealous copyright lawyers could spot the song lyrics I quoted in the original version and sue my chestnuts off. Because of this, I decided to remove the lyrics in favor of song titles.
I also felt that the writing needed some extra polishing, so I changed things in more than a few spots. Most of it was cosmetic, but in some places, I did revise or expand. Where were these places? You’ll just have to read the story to find out. Heh heh heh. (However, nothing has been cut except for the aforementioned lyrics.)
Favorite reference: Beth’s second reference to the Grinch. You’ll have to read the story to find out why, because spoilers.
Most obscure reference: Probably a tie between the second and third songs Mandy sings, “Happy Holidays Too” by the Doubleclicks and “All The Right Reasons” by Dressy Bessy, two of my favorite Christmas songs of recent years.
Not an obscure reference: I decided that I wanted to try to create the most frighteningly syrupy Christmas song title around. I still can’t believe that I came up with “Freddie, The Little Christmas Fruitcake That Could”; I still have to hold back laughter every time I think about it. I really hope that someday, someone comes up with lyrics to match, and choreographs a Candied Cranberry Dance to go with it.
Did you know?: This is the Christmas that’s referred to in the first and last chapters of A Tiding Of Magpies, and the “project” Mec mentioned was the wand he crafted for Beth. All the Monkey Queen short stories are in continuity, in fact, but this one is a little more so than others. I’ll be sure to post a revised bibliography whenever Redblade comes out.
Did you also know? This is post #300 on the Monkey Queen Books blog! Thanks for reading!