Guest Post: The Characters in Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood @HeideGoody @IainMGrant @lovebooksgroup


Christmas is a time for families to come together.

Guin Roberts can’t think of anything worse than visiting a Christmas market with her new family. Guin is perfectly happy with own company and doesn’t want that disrupted by her wisecracking stepbrother and his earnest mum.

Their Christmas celebrations are invaded by a sleigh full of murderous elves. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve been naughty or nice — these elves are out for blood.

Can the family band together to survive the night? Or will Santa’s little helpers make mincemeat of them all?

Guest Post:

For Candy Canes and Buckets of Blood, we decided our heroes would be an ensemble cast, a family of four. We made the decision for it to be a reconstructed family, a potential step-family. Dave Roberts and his daughter Guin plus Dave’s girlfriend Esther Woollby and her son, Newton. The story would take place at the moment when sixteen-year-old Newton and eleven-year-old Guin meet for the first time, when they have to face the fact that they might become step-brother and step-sister at some point in the future. All four of them are nice people but flawed in their own ways.

The family dynamic would be very important but it was just one aspect of a story in which, over the course of a single night, the family have to band together to fight off a horde of killer Christmas elves.

Dave is a stereotypical dad. He’s a practical man with unbounded love for those close to him. Beyond that he’s a simple creature — he likes food, he likes beer, he lives for the moment and enjoys what life has to offer.

Esther is an earnest and moral woman — she will tend to injured birds, she will think about the food-miles of the fruit she buys, she would rather knit her own jumpers rather than get something made in a factory by underpaid labourers. She wants to live an ‘authentic’ life and is a great respecter of culture and tradition.

Newton is a worrier. He worries that his mum isn’t happy (even when she is). He worries that he offends people (even when he doesn’t). He wants to make the whole world happy and put everyone else before himself. This causes his mum to worry which in turn causes him to worry further. He loves animals and bad puns.

Guin (short for Guinevere) is a deeply introverted girl. She prefers imaginary friends (made from string and wire) to real friends. She has a rich imagination that she shares with almost no one. She thinks she’s different and special (she is) and needs some medical label to explain this (she doesn’t). She’s very very clever.

When we set out to write Candy Canes, we developed all four characters equally. We wrote chapters from all four perspectives. We had comedy moments and thrilling scenes planned for all of them. And yet… 

And yet…

In any story there’s always a main character. It’s funny but it’s true. Even in an ensemble cast, there’s one that always leads the way, carries the reader through the story. For us, it turned out to be Guin. Guin, the youngest and weakest of the family, turned out to be our own little heroine. We didn’t plan it that way but she kind of took over. When the evil elves attack the family in the hotel, she’s the one who tries to work out their motives. When she and Newton are captured by elves and dragged to their lair, she’s the one who tries to learn their language and worm her way into their good graces. And when the elves’ final wicked plan is revealed and our family of heroes must band together to save Christmas itself, it’s Guin with her hands on the reins in a life and death battle with the evil elf leader.

It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it?
★ ☆
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