Introducing our Author Christmas Calendar, featuring a fantastic author every day throughout December!
Philip Womack has been described as one of the “best contemporary writers of children’s fantasy.” Philip is the author of six books for children. He teaches Children’s and YA Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, and is the Patron of Reading at the John Roan School. His latest book, ‘The King’s Revenge’ is the concluding episode of The Darkening Path Trilogy, a series which has won him comparison to Alan Garner and J K Rowling. I’m so pleased that Philip has participated in our festive Q & A and is the first of many great authors on our Christmas calendar!
Name three things on your Christmas list this year! There’s a really nice old edition of The Iliad on sale at my favourite shop, Henry Sotherans, but I’m very
unlikely to be given it. Otherwise, it’s usually shirts, jumpers and socks.
Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? My favourite family tradition was opening the stockings in my parents’ bedroom, and then having breakfast which (when we were older) was salmon, eggs and champagne.
What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? I used to re-read Lord of the Rings at Christmas time – such an amazing story. Revisiting old favourites is always something I do – E Nesbit or C S Lewis or any of the stories I loved as a child.
(I totally agree; Christmas is definitely the time for nostalgia!).
If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? I think it would have to be someone with a huge family – so maybe Queen Victoria, as she and her husband helped to create the idea of Christmas that we have today.
In The Darkening Path Trilogy, Simon and Flora find their way through amazing magical realms. If you could travel to any magical realm and spend Christmas there where would it be and why? I’d love to travel to Lyra’s Oxford, in Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I can imagine that a Christmas feast at one of the colleges there would be spiffing.
In an article for the Guardian, you talk about writing fantasy novels and in particular making a fantasy world tangible to the senses. For you, what tastes, smells, sights and sounds are most synonymous with Christmas? Tastes: hot mince pies, sometimes so hot they burn your mouth; bread sauce (my favourite) and stuffing. Smells: the smell of woodsmoke and of whatever’s roasting in the oven. Sights: the guttering of candles in a church, and the bright flashing of the Christmas tree. Sounds: carols, played all day.
(Conjures up a perfect festive scene!)
Reader’s question from children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut, West Sussex: who is your greatest critic? My greatest critic is myself. I think that’s probably true for most writers. You never think a work is good enough or ready enough and often you need the help of editors to see strengths as well as weaknesses.
Turkey or goose? Goose.
Real or fake tree? Real.
Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Christmas pudding.
Stockings – end of the bed or over the fireplace? End of the bed.
Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas Eve.
Thank you for taking the time to participate and have a very Happy Christmas!