A few months ago we reviewed The Christmas Carol Murders by Christopher Lord and invited him to join us during this Christmas season. Please enjoy this interview between our reviewer, Robin, and Christopher.
Robin: I really enjoyed The Christmas Carol Murders. As I read the story I fell in love with the way you mixed Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories with that of the board game Clue creating a unique puzzle mystery. I loved Tim Curry as Wadsworth the butler. (I think it would be so cool to be able to say “the butler did it”) You mentioned that Madeline Kahn as Miss White was your favorite. What drew you to her portrayal of Miss White? Was there a humorous connection?
Christopher: I actually never thought of a puzzle mystery as being like “Clue.” I played it all the time when I was young, but I haven’t played it in years, and I hated the VCR version that came out in the eighties; it was a memory game, not a deduction-style game. That said, I definitely liked Madeline Kahn the most, with Lesley Ann Warren a close second. Madeline’s performances were always so mannered, her diction so precise, yet filled with fierce intelligence. She left us far too soon.
Robin: I loved the small town atmosphere of your story. I love the big city but, deep down I will always be that small town girl. The past few years we have spent Christmas in Florida where I find that I miss the snow and the way everyone decorates in the north. One of my favorite memories was that of the Victorian House in town decorated with all the magic and glamor of Christmas. Our youth group would carol there every year and the owners always had hot chocolate ready for us as we stood and sang with the light snow falling down around us. What is one of your favorite Holiday memories of when you were young?
Christopher: I remember the year we got our first stereo. It was either 1960 or 1961. It was one of those dark walnut boxy kinds, with the cloth stretched over the front and spindly legs. And with it came a copy of Brenda Lee’s Christmas album. To this day, I don’t believe it’s Christmas until I hear Brenda sing out “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Robin: I shared that I loved the small town atmosphere of which you write. If you could choose to live in a special place be it small town or big city, where would it be and why?
Christopher: Although I’ve lived in Portland for twenty years and think of myself as a “city” boy (and certainly that’s how my friends see me), I was born in Astoria and lived there until just before my eleventh birthday, so I’ve always seen myself as a city boy with a small-town boy inside peering out. During much of my working life (I was an insurance executive) I got to spend a great deal of time thinking about small businesses and how they really form a strong network, a strong local economy, and strong sense of community. And I think cozy mysteries fit best in small communities. That way, you feel the sense of violation of an entire community when, say, someone is murdered, stuffed with sage and onion dressing, and trussed up like a Christmas goose. But I’m really a city person at heart. If I could live anywhere it most likely would be New York or London. I don’t think I would ever be bored in either of those cities.
Robin: Growing up I used to read anything I could get my hands on. I enjoyed romance as most girls do dreaming of that happy ever after life. But, I was also a big fan of mysteries starting off with Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys then moving on to Agatha Christie, Sir Author Conan Doyle and many more. I really wanted to be Nancy Drew going off on an adventure of some sort. But more challenging was that of becoming Ms. Marple or even Sherlock Holmes. There adventures where so much more involved. Taking you too far away places. If you had to choose one character that you would have liked to become, who would it be and why?
Christopher: This is a tough question. I was definitely a Nancy boy (as in Drew); none of those Hardy Boy adventures for me. And I went through an Agatha Christie phase in college; I remember reading four of her books in a single day one summer. I also loved Sherlock Holmes. But I didn’t want to be any of those people. The book that made me want to be a different person was James Michener’s The Drifters. I also read it in college, and I can remember walking from my apartment to Willamette University and wishing instead that I were in Torremolinos, Spain. By the time I actually saw Torremolinos I was forty and neither I nor the town were the same. But I wanted to be one of those young people gallivanting around the world, taking drugs and having sex. I wasn’t doing any of those things, and it sounded like fun.
Robin: Books have become a big part of who I am. Who I have become and who I wish to be. I feel that they help mold us. If you had to choose one book from all of your favorites that inspired you the most, which would you choose?
Christopher: This is so easy. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens is my all-time favorite book. I had read A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, so I had dipped into Dickens. But at age fourteen I read Our Mutual Friend at the beginning of my “big book” phase (no book shorter than 700 pages would do), and it made me a life-long reader and a Dickens fanatic. I have read it at least eight times since, and I’ll be leading a six-week discussion of it early next year for Literary Arts, Inc., a literary organization in Portland. And I just finished the third novel in the Dickens Junction mystery series, The Our Mutual Friend Murders, so I have the book fresh in my mind.
Christoper Lord was born in Astoria, Oregon. He now lives in Portland with his partner of twenty years and their Devon Rex, Miss Corey, the inspiration for Simon’s Miss Tox. He is hard at work on future books in the Dickens Junction mystery series.
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