Let’s hear the story behind A Christmas Tale from him, and be ready to shed a tear or two. I did.
“A Christmas Tail – How I Came to Write a Happy Story
By JG Faherty
Christmas Lites V is, obviously, the fifth in this series of holiday-themed anthologies for the benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). I’m proud to be in three of them. Each year, Amy Eye puts together a fine collection of stories from a variety of authors who work in all sorts of genres. My particular expertise is horror, sometimes with a twist of dark humor, and in the past I’ve provided her with stories about a demon Santa toy who delivers a terrible wish to a bad, bad child and a vengeful Santa who teaches some naughty children a lesson after they steal his magic bag of presents.
So when it came time to do a story for Christmas Lites V, my first instinct was to do another scary-funny tale. But something odd happened when I started writing. You might say it was a Christmas miracle.
It wasn’t scary, and it wasn’t funny.
One of the basic tenets of writing is you have to let the story write itself. At least during the first draft. Don’t create word limits. Let the story take you places you didn’t expect to go. And A Christmas Tail quickly departed from the path I’d originally intended, veering from a boy and his ghost dog who decide to get back at the people who ruined Christmas for him into something totally heartwarming.
A rare occurrence for me!
Not that I haven’t ever done heartwarming. I’ve had some very emotional scenes in some of my books. And over the years I’ve done some non-fiction stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (if you’ve read my horror fiction, that will come as a real shock to you!).
So I let the story take me where it wanted to go.
What I ended up with was a tale of love and loss, family and friends, and redemption.
The love and loss wasn’t hard to capture. At the time, it was still only a year since I’d lost my own dog, a Chocolate lab named Harley. She’d been my constant companion at my desk while I wrote every book and story published before 2015. Even now, I sometimes look down and expect to see her there, staring up at me with her deep brown eyes, waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently!) for a cookie or a walk.
Family and friends? Easy enough. I’m blessed to have all my close family and friends still with me, and I get to see them all for the holidays.
Redemption? That was a little harder. What’s it like to be estranged from everyone you care about, to be alone on the streets at Christmas? To live hand to mouth while bitter cold sucks the life from you and nothing else matters but finding a warm place to sleep and maybe a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup to stave off hunger for a few hours?
That was the hardest part of the story, but it’s what writers have to do—put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes—if they want to create something that will touch people in some way.
When all was said and done, I ended up with a story radically different from what I’d intended, but one that I was very happy with. You know you’ve done good when you go back to proofread/edit it and certain scenes make you smile or bring a tear to your eye.
Because ultimately before we can write for others, we have to write for ourselves, and if a story doesn’t work for the writer there’s no chance it will work for the readers.
Even after I finished it, I still wondered if perhaps I should put it aside and write something more in line of what my readers, and Amy, tend to expect from me. But then I thought, maybe this is the best time to put out a story like this one. The world is becoming more and more violent, and people are becoming angrier and more frightened and more confused.
Maybe they need to see that there’s hope at the end of the day.
After all, that’s what the Christmas Lites anthologies are all about. Bringing hope to victims of violence.
Pick up this book. It’s filled with great stories by people like Ottilie Weber, Douglas Wynne, Angela Yuriko Smith, Monica La Porta, and, of course, compiler and all-around great person, Amy Eye. And don’t forget volumes I-IV, which include stories by Patrick Frievald, Cassie McCown, Phil Cantrill, and many others.
Heck, it’s Christmas! Buy them all. Give them as gifts. Make someone smile and support a good cause all at once.
Or next year you might end up on the wrong end of my very unhappy Santa.”
JG Faherty is the Bram Stoker Award®- and ITW Thriller Award-nominated author of five novels, seven novellas, and more than 50 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror/sci-fi/fantasy, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.
A lifelong resident of New York’s highly haunted Hudson Valley region, JG grew up amid Revolutionary War graveyards, haunted roads, and woods filled with ghostly apparitions. His varied professional career includes working as a resume writer, laboratory manager, accident scene photographer, zoo keeper, scientist, and salesman. He began writing fiction in 2001, and his short stories, poetry, and articles have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.
For more information about his books, or to arrange signings or readings, visit: