My first Christmas novella, A Christmas Journey, was more or less an accident. I had a story of a murder mystery, inside a journey of expiation for a sin of spite. We all say and do things that result in something far worse than we intended. If there was anything we could do to wipe it out, we would. But how many of us would make that journey towards forgiveness if we don't have to, but to accompany a friend? Can you give anyone a greater gift?
I intended it as a short story, but my publisher preferred it as a novella, approximately a hundred and fifty pages. It was surprisingly successful, and I was asked to do another Christmas novella, with a similar theme suited to Christmas. I chose the three wise men, updated to the nineteenth century, willing to give one gift, and asked to give another, far greater, but which in the end would bring them extraordinary happiness.
I have written one each year since then, set in different areas of Britain or Ireland, and always on some theme such as grace, hope, redemption, compassion, a sense of belonging or homecoming. As time goes by it is getting more difficult to think of a different theme. But perhaps it only takes a little more time, and concentration on the multitude of gifts that lie in the meaning of Christ's life, and ultimately his death and resurrection – which to me is what Christmas means.
This year's novella is called a Christmas Odyssey, and was inspired by a kind of cross between the Prodigal Son, returning home after years of debauchery, and the journey through hell depicted in Dante's Inferno.
The three unlikely heroes and an elderly and highly respectable inventor, a reformed brothel keeper of unknown age, and a young man not fully qualified but into practices as a doctor among the poor and desperate. They are brought together by chance in the beginning, and their relationship strengthens and becomes a mutual understanding and respect by the end.
They go into an underworld of drugs and degradation in alleys, tunnels and cellars beneath London, in search of a 'prodigal son' of one of the mathematician's friends, now too old and too ill to go himself, and knowing that his sin would flee him anyway.
The journey is dangerous and at times tragic. They find that the young man appears to have committed a grisly murder, and in order to bring the young man home, the heroes must solve the crime, and prove the 'prodigal son' innocent. They must also defeat the 'Shadow Man' who holds many people in a kind of bondage to drugs and blackmail.
The end is dramatic, life-threatening, offering the 'prodigal son' a chance to choose again, and redeem himself. Christmas is sorrow and starlight, bells ringing, and a chance to come home and be welcome.
It was fun to write, uplifting to think about and extraordinarily satisfying to complete. I hope people reading it will think 'It's never too late to come home'.
I suppose after this Christmas I will know if at least for some people it worked.
Thank you for asking.
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Thank you Anne for sharing your Christmas novellas with us. They sound very intriguing. I'm sure you will continue to create more inspirational stories. Anyone interested in finding out more about Anne Perry or her work can do so by visiting her website. Anne Perry
A special thanks to all of you who have stopped by. For many of us this is a very busy time. I appreciate you giving me some of it. I wish you and yours the happiest holiday season. I don't think it matters what you celebrate, it matters who you celebrate with.
Kristin : )