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Guest author: Barry Brennessel

December 13th, 2011 (10:05 am)

Barry's done an author interview here before and, on the principle you can't have too much of a good thing, he's back telling us what inspired his latest story, All the Souls on Earth.

So Barry, what made you write this story?

Do you remember your last interaction with a loved one? Your last conversation? Was it romantic? Hysterical? Was there fighting? Did something tragic happen?

As I set out to write my tale for MLR Press’s Daily Holiday Story Series, I envisioned a character who witnesses something horrible, and can’t stop it from playing over and over in his mind. Not exactly a festive holiday scenario, but that became the point of the story: Elijah Leipa, the main character, wants to turn Christmas back into a festive occasion!
The result Elijah wants is simple enough: to erase a lingering bad memory. The tricky part is how he goes about doing it. I knew it would involve the supernatural. It had to be different though. Something that really had never been touched on before, at least as far as I knew. Since Elijah is an ordinary guy, I realized that whatever scheme he came up with would involve his asking for help, almost as if placing an order. I didn’t simply want a bargain-with-the-devil scenario, but more his reliance on the kindness of strangers. Strange strangers indeed.

The fun part of composing this story was the research. I dove into to all manner of lore, mythology, tall tales, legends. And then I stumbled on an old Latvian tradition that culminates during the autumnal equinox, when it is believed that spirits - known as veli - emerge from the underworld to pay respect to their ancestral homes. From that information, I was able to give Elijah the catalyst for his plan. He uses that tradition and puts a spin on it. There just had to be a complication, of course, and I had in mind the whole balance of nature, the harmony of the universe. For the spiritual world to give something up, something must be sacrificed. And if that condition isn’t met, there’s going to be trouble. As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened earlier in this fictional world , involving a school teacher, and that’s why a mysterious man named March is out to stop Elijah before another tragedy occurs.

All the Souls on Earth is a story about the spirit of Christmas, and some spirits at Christmas. And, yes, and a couple glasses of spirits did help me keep the pen moving.
Happy Holidays!

Elijah’s previous holiday season was a disaster. This year, he’s determined to give a surprise gift that he prays will erase the lingering bad memories.
But his idea catches the attention of March—an attractive, mysterious man who is bent on stopping Elijah in his tracks. Both men are determined to fight for what they want, but they soon find they are also fighting their growing feelings for one another.
Will Elijah be able to deliver his gift, or will March forever alter the spirit of the holidays?