Paul Magrs takes a break from science fiction to get festive!
Paul Magrs has published a number of YA novels; five original Doctor Who novels with BBC books, and over twenty original Doctor Who audiobooks / full cast dramas produced by Big Finish Productions and BBC Audio / Audiogo. The first in his epic Sci-Fi series Lost on Mars was published in May 2015 to critical acclaim and the sequel The Martian Girl was published in September.
Name three things on your Christmas list this year! There’s the new biography of the wonderful magical-realist writer Angela Carter by Edmund Gordon, and the new live album by Kate Bush, and the newly animated Doctor Who story, ‘Power of the Daleks’, reconstructed from the soundtrack of the lost episodes… lots of nice things to choose from! But I’ll be happy to get just one of them.
(We absolutely love your Christmas illustration – thank you!)
Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? Hideous family tensions and fights about who should be visiting and spending time with each other!
There are wonderful stories shared at Christmas time. What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? I have lots. I have two whole shelves dedicated to Christmas books I have collected over the years. My favourite individual story is ‘A Christmas Memory’ by Truman Capote, which is a mostly-autobiographical tale about how, when he was quite small, he and his best friend, Sook the housekeeper, would make thirty-two Christmas cakes every year and send them to a great long list of people. It’s a really wonderful, heart-breaking story.
If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? My Big Nanna, who died just over fifteen years ago. She was a school cook and she made wonderful dinners. It would be great to spend one more Christmas with her. She would insist on everyone pulling crackers and wearing silly hats and playing games: the whole festive thing. One of my earliest Christmas memories is the entire family being crowded into her flat, and her getting me to dress up as Santa Claus when I was still a toddler, and walk into the living room dragging a huge bag of everyone’s presents.
Your fantastic science fiction novels are set on Mars. What would a Martian Christmas be like? The Martian settlers in my books took all their customs and rituals with them from Earth and kind of jumbled them up over time. On the prairie, in the Homesteads, they would have a grand barbecue and roast a lizard, perhaps, and all the neighbours would come to sing and dance. Ma would play her miniature harp. In the City Inside, they would try their best to have a kind of Victorian Christmas. Rich families would have something expensive and exotic for dinner, such as octopus. The robot furniture would leave everyone’s homes and wander the streets, carol-singing.
(Love the idea of carol-singing robot furniture!)
You’ve written for all the living Doctor Who’s! How do you think Doctor Who would celebrate Christmas? Whenever he felt like it! Everyday for a year in different times and places, perhaps. And then he’d get fed up with it for ages. Also, whenever he turns up, it’s usually just as something dreadful and cosmic is about to start happening. So if he arrived on your doorstep on Christmas Eve, it might well herald a disastrous invasion or a ghastly time incursion.
Reader’s question from the children at Inkpots Writers’ Hut: do you plan your writing? If so, how many plans do you write? I write quite intensive notes before setting off on a novel. I do this perhaps three or four times, beginning with a couple of lines, which then becomes a paragraph, which in turn becomes a whole page, which eventually becomes three pages. A synopsis longer than three pages is getting a bit long and over-complicated, in my experience. When it gets to three pages: start writing.
Turkey or goose? Turkey.
Real or fake tree? Real.
Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Pudding.
Stockings – end of the bed or over the fireplace? Fireplace.
Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? Christmas!
Thank you for taking part! Have a Happy Christmas!