I'll be reviewing Tim's book, The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus, tomorrow here on Acting Balanced, but before that, I thought you might like to get some insight into Tim's world:
1. What is a typical writing day like?
Because I’m a university teacher, I can’t write every day. So the days when I can write I really look forward to. Those days are usually Friday-Sunday, with an occasional Wednesday or Monday thrown in for a treat. I like to walk to the gym first thing in the morning (I’m not an early riser when I don’t have to be, so that’s usually around 9:30). Writing gets going around 1 pm. I write in “the cave” mostly—a basement room in our house. I can control my environment in the cave—lighting, music, etc., so that helps. I tend to play computer solitaire for awhile before I get down to anything serious. That’s a very important part of my process because it sort of greases the skids of my mind and turns it into a place where ideas can come and writing problems can be solved. I write for about six hours, and sometimes the best stuff happens after midnight.
2. What interests you about the legend of Santa Claus?
What makes you think it’s a legend? John Denver used to sing a song called “Boy from the Country,” one of the lyrics of which is “He tried to tell us the animals could speak/How do you know they don’t/Just because they’ve never spoken to you?” But because I like you I’ll play along with the whole “legend” conceit and say that Santa Claus represents giving for the sheer pleasure of it, the refusal to judge and condemn (the whole “naughty and nice” idea is a pernicious lie cooked up by killjoys who don’t understand what Christmas is all about), and joy and hope, which are enough to live a life on. Those things get my attention.
3. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Well, it happens every year. We throw a neighborhood party on the final Advent Sunday before Christmas. (It should probably be earlier, but we can never get our act together.) At this party, people bring favorite foods and we do our part by setting them out on our dining room table. There’s a fire made from actual wood in the fireplace. There’s an Advent wreath, with real evergreen and real candles. In fact, there are a lot of candles everywhere, and our house could basically burst into flame at any moment, which adds Tension and Drama to the evening. (Once the wreath and the table it was on did catch on fire and we had to chuck the whole combination out the front door into the snow. We did not learn any lesson from this.) At a certain time in the evening, everybody sits around, and those who brought something to read or sing or display or tell (like a yuletide joke) do that. Carols are sung. When it’s late and everybody should know better, the men serenade the women with “Sleigh Ride,” which so brings the love light into the eyes of the women that children are born the next August. I can’t tell you how much this party means to me. I wait all year for it to start.
Tim Slover is a writer and professor of theater at the University of Utah. His plays have been produced off-Broadway and in theaters throughout the United States and in London, where he spends part of each year. His wife, usefully, is a marriage and family therapist, and their two sons were the original audience for The Christmas Chronicles. For the purposes of yuletide decorating, each Christmas, Slover continues to cut a few pine boughs at an undisclosed location.
You can learn more about Tim and The Christmas Chronicles by visiting the publisher’s website at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780553808100