Christmas Off the Beaten Path: Michelle Levigne

Christmas Off the Beaten Path: Michelle Levigne

Welcome to the fifth of my Christmas interviews with my fellow authors in the Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path anthology, available for purchase right here! If you missed the first three interviews, find them here with Ronnell Kay Gibson, JPC Allen, Sandra Merville Hart, and Laurie Lucking.

I’d like to invite you to grab a big mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows, and/or sprinkles and pretend you’ve just joined us at a table where you can enjoy listening to a conversation between two authors you’re interested in learning more about. Ready? Then let’s dive in!

Hello, Michelle, thanks for joining us today. I thought it’d be fun to ask you some Christmas questions, but let’s start with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself.

On the road to publication, I fell into fandom in college and have many stories in various SF and fantasy universes. I have a bunch of useless degrees in theater/English/film/communication/writing. Even worse, I have over 100 books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. My official launch into publishing came with winning first place in the Writers of the Future contest in 1990. I have been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition more than thirteen times, winning twice, and was a finalist in the Realm Award competition, in conjunction with the Realm Makers convention. My training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature; proofreading at an advertising agency; and working at a community newspaper. I am a tea snob and freelance edit for a living (MichelleLevigne@gmail.com for info/rates), but only enough to give me time to write. My newest crime against the literary world is to be co-managing editor at Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Be afraid … be very afraid. 

For those who haven’t had the chance to enjoy reading your story in our anthology, could you give us a quick pitch?

“Crystal Christmas” This story is a steampunk tie-in to the Guardians of the Time Stream series. Carmen and Brogan are the leaders of the community living below the streets of 1880s Cleveland. They are still getting used to the mental link created by the crystal that was a vital component of the time traveling machine of their ancestors. Mr. Wallace, a private investigator and friend, needs help from Brogan to create a ring of crystal, to propose to Carmen’s childhood friend, Ess. Carmen helps the men try to fashion the crystal, and tries to hold back her own for a ring from Brogan. Christmas approaches, and as a fierce storm sweeps through the city, so does illness brought by the crew of a foreign airship. The illness penetrates to the underground community, and the children fall ill first. Carmen and Brogan deal with the illness, with helping allies who are affected, and with new attempts by their hereditary enemies to enter the underground community and steal crystal. The story culminates on Christmas Eve, with the reunion of friends and the fulfilment of several hopes and dreams.

I’d encourage fans of steampunk to check out the rest of the Guardians of the Time Stream series, which are very fun! Now let’s get into the Christmas questions…

1. What is your favorite Christmas carol?

It’s a tie between O Holy Night, O Come Emmanuel, and Mary, Did You Know? (and that was before your lovely story. <G>)

Aw, thank you!

2. Hot cocoa, pumpkin latte, or apple cider?

Cocoa. Especially all the different flavors you can get now – mint, raspberry, dark chocolate.

3. What’s the first thing to go on your Christmas tree each year?

I don’t put up a tree. Honest! I have a ceramic tree with little plastic bulbs my mother made years ago, and I put that out in my little apartment. I share an optic fiber lit tree with my mother and brother, in her apartment. My brother has the only full-sized tree, and it stays decorated, we just stash it in the spare bedroom in his condo. It has a string of Incredible Hulk lights – different enough for you? <G>

4. If you could be any character in The Nutcracker, who would you be and why?

Are you talking the traditional ballet or the movie that came out last year? I think I’d be the “uncle” who gives the gifts and starts things going. Of course, I can’t dance to save my life, so … <G> If you’re talking the movie that came out last year, I kind of like Mother Ginger, Helen Mirren’s character. She was kind of scary, but cool. And Morgan Freeman playing the Uncle was cool too.

5. When do you start watching Christmas movies and what’s your favorite?

Urgh … it’s kind of hard to say when I “start” because Hallmark has been showing Christmas movies for MONTHS already. That being said …. They don’t really count, do they? Those are romances set at Christmas, not really Christmas Christmas movies … I like the first 2 Santa Clause movies. I like the Rankin Bass movies that we saw every year when we were kids – The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – you know, the clay-mation movies, or whatever that stuff was they made the characters from. A few years ago I would have said The Littlest Angel, with Johnny Whitaker and Fred Gwynne, because I had such good memories of it, from when I was a kid. Then I got a copy of the videotape and … whew! So corny! <G> So … Honestly, I don’t really have a favorite, favorite.

The claymation Rudolph is definitely high on my list, too!

6. What’s your favorite Christmas treat?

Egg nog and really fruity-nutty fruitcake. Seriously, I like fruitcake! Maybe because it’s so hard to find fruitcake, period, and when we do it’s so dang expensive.

Yes, love me some good egg nog!

7. Which version of the Grinch do you prefer? The book? The classic cartoon? Jim Carrey? Or the newest version?

Haven’t seen the new one. I prefer the classic cartoon. The Jim Carrey one is just too overblown, too much adolescent humor added to it. Seriously? The Grinch was in love with a girl at school? Yeah, the classic cartoon. It’s just funny, knowing that’s scare-master Boris Karloff narrating a Christmas story.

He’s certainly a master of narration.

8. If you could be any ornament on the Christmas tree, what would you be and why?

<G> Someone years ago gave me a little computer ornament – I’d be the computer, of course. Still writing my stories, even as I’m “hanging” around. Second choice would be one of those metallic green pickles, just because it’s weird seeing a pickle on a Christmas tree!

Haha, there’s that pickle again!

9. What’s your favorite Christmas story?

That’s really hard to say because I don’t specifically seek out Christmas-themed stories at Christmas. If someone offers me one that ties into a series I like, by an author I like, I enjoy those, but I don’t go back to them year after year. Is that a cop-out? Maybe part of it is that so many stories don’t really stay true to THE Christmas story. They have what they believe is the “spirit” of Christmas, but they ignore the entire reason.

If you want a real cop-out ….. <G> I would nominate my own Christmas short story, which is a Christmas romance that I keep saying I’m going to turn into a screenplay and sell to Hallmark. (Actually, I’m about 20 pages into it, but I keep putting it aside to deal with other projects.)  It’s called “From Turkey to Mistletoe,” and starts on Thanksgiving day and ends a few days before Christmas, when the hero and heroine have their first kiss under the mistletoe. The story is in my 1st Tabor Heights anthology, Seasons.

10. How do you keep Christ at the center of your Christmas?

I try to focus on giving – my favorite Christmas tradition is putting together boxes for Operation Christmas Child, for Samaritan’s Purse. And picking out a number of items from the Samaritan’s Purse “gift catalog” to help families in other countries. I try to find gifts for people that will make them happy, and try to free up time for being with people more.  Just focusing on others more – and then trying to carry that new routine or habit throughout the new year.

11. Why did you write your story for Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path? What makes your story “off the beaten path”?

How much more “off the path” can you get than a community of people living underground, with a magical doorway to another world where it is always noontime and summer? Plus they’re descendants of time travelers who are trying to keep the descendants of another group of time travelers from regaining the pieces of their time ancestors’ time machines.

“Crystal Christmas” has romance, and people struggling to make Christmas special for children who are essentially refugees, the downtrodden and orphaned. It’s also about sharing – in this case, letting others benefit from access to a place of bounty and warmth in the middle of a killer winter storm and sickness sweeping through 1880s Cleveland.

Why did I write it? <G> “Crystal Christmas” follows up on the people and situations from “Music in the Night,” the last book in my Guardians of the Time Stream series – and hopefully it will act as a bridge to a new series I hope to do someday. Maybe. When I find the time. I wanted to wrap up some threads of relationships hinted at in “Music,” and when we started talking about doing a Christmas anthology at Mt. Zion Ridge … it just made sense. Ever have a story that insisted on being written? This is one of them.

Absolutely. “Mary, Did You Know” was like that. I love that “Crystal Christmas” is a short story following characters from another series. Makes readers want to seek out the rest of the books to find out more!

12. If you could ask for one thing for Christmas this year, what would it be?

That’s really hard to say, because what I want has to be earned – it can’t just be bought and given to me. I have 3 books/series proposals out there waiting on editors, and I would be thrilled to have contract offers for Christmas, but while I can keep praying really hard …. <G>

There are some relationship issues I would love to have resolved for some people very close to me. But as for a THING for Christmas …. Hmmm, total body makeover without any pain or sweat? <G>

We had a joke when we were kids. One of my cousins would pretend to be Santa, and another cousin would sit on his lap and talk with a lisp, and Santa would ask, “Well, little boy, what would you like for Christmas?” And the little brown-noser would said, “I want peace for the whole wide world!” Santa would say, “That’s nice, but don’t you want something for yourself?” And the reply would be a big grin and, “A machine gun!”

While peace for the whole world is a nice wish, it’s not realistic. Let’s start small, in the area surrounding us, and then spread out.

Thank you so much, Michelle! If you’d like to learn more about Michelle Levigne, you can find her at:

www.Mlevigne.com

www.michellelevigne.blogspot.com

@MichelleLevigne

https://www.facebook.com/michelle.levigne.7

https://www.facebook.com/Michelle-Levigne-Author-and-Editor-73679232010/

Thanks again for joining us at our table! We’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments below!

Be sure to pull up tomorrow when you’ll get to hear my own answers to these questions!

If you’re in need of a copy of this wonderful anthology, you can purchase a copy here, or if you’re in the Spokane area, join me for my reading TOMORROW, December 7, at 2:00 at the South Hill Branch of the Spokane Public Library. Signed copies will be for sale, without shipping/handling. 🙂

Merry Christmas!

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