Eoin Colfer worked as a teacher before turning his attention to full-time writing for children. He is best known for his phenomenally successful Artemis Fowl series. Eoin lives with his family in Ireland.
Juniper's Christmas (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Discover the real Santa Claus in Eoin Colfer's Juniper's Christmas, a heart-warming festive treat that explores the magic of Christmas through the adventures of Juniper, as well as a young reindeer, some villains and of course Santa Claus himself. Eoin also explores themes of homelessness, loss and making the right choices.
Review: 'This brand-new festive classic is filled with magical adventure, heart-warming humour and characters that you can relate with, even when they are the 'villains'.'
Q&A with Eoin Colfer
Find out what inspired Eoin Colfer's Christmas story, why he is 'the Q of the leprechaun world', and which of Santa's special inventions he'd like to bring home!
1. What inspired Juniper's Christmas, a story about saving Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas?
I first began thinking about a Christmas book in that out-of-time period between Christmas and New Year's when a person is surrounded by extended family and can't help realising that it's true what they say: The holiday season is actually magical in some ways as it always brings people together. No matter what is happening in everyone's lives we all try to make it home for Christmas.
2. There is a strong narratorial presence in the story; why did you decide to write it like this, and did you enjoy writing this story?
I imagined Juniper's Christmas as a story that might be read aloud at Christmas so if that was to be the case then the narrator voice would need to be warm and entertaining. I remember hearing Colin Farrell recite the lyrics from Chim Chim Cher-ee at the beginning of the movie: Saving Mr Banks and I thought that's the voice for my narrator. And I must say taking a break from my usual snarky self to write a warm hearted Christmas tale was most enjoyable indeed.
"Gadgets have become a trademark of my magical books. I am the Q of the leprechaun world."
3. How did you go about creating Santa's world and the 'scientific' explanations for how his magic works?
Turning magic into science was a bit of a challenge but I felt it needed to be done because if there were no rules to magic then there would be no drama because the elves couldn't lose, and also I needed a link between the humans and the elves which was the Scientist Josephine Spangle who Santa would fall in love with. The toughest thing to explain was Santa Slow Time which allowed Santa to travel the world in a single night. A night which actually lasted a year for him, which was part of the reason he left the North Pole in the first place.
4. From cloaks that turn you invisible to cameras, to Santa's quantum sack, there's a whole host of magical inventions that keep Santa's world working. Which one would you like to bring home with you?
Gadgets have become a trademark of my magical books. I am the Q of the leprechaun world. I think if I could actually take home one of Santa's gizmos I would take his work books which allow him to take enormous steps. I would never need to visit an airport again and I'd never be late.
"There are amazing charities out there doing wonderful work but so much more could be done
to help children living in hotels or sleeping rough."
5. The park where Juniper and her mum, Jennifer, live is home to a number of residents. Can you tell us a little about your exploration of homelessness through these characters, particularly Duchess?
I have done a few projects that feature unhoused people and in this age of representation I wanted to portray these people as more than their current situation. Duchess is more than her mental health issues. She is a wonderful person who lost her home and needs some care and attention to get her back on her feet again. Most homeless people do not choose that path and would love the security of a permanent residence. There are amazing charities out there doing wonderful work but so much more could be done to help children living in hotels or sleeping rough.
6. While the story is set in the run-up to Christmas, it is focused on love, and loss, through Santa and Juniper's experiences of bereavement; why did you want to look at Christmas through this lens?
I was aware that although my own Christmas situation is currently very happy with my wife and boys, a lot of people are not so lucky. I would be willing to bet that most people have had really low Christmases due to grief, illness or that curse of loneliness, so I wanted to portray main characters who are suffering through sadness or desperation or the feeling that their lives have drifted off course and show that maybe things will change or there could be a way back.
"I wanted to portray main characters who are ... feeling that their lives have drifted off course
and show that maybe things will change or there could be a way back"
7. Do you have a favourite moment in this story?
I love when Santa has to hide in his own sack which is actually more of an inter-dimensional way station than an ordinary sack, and there he meets the ghost of his wife who gives him her blessing to move on a little with his life.
8. What about a favourite illustration, by Chaaya Prabhat?
Chaaya is so amazing and we were luck to get her. Every picture she created is wonderful but if I had to pick a favourite I'd say the cover illustration when it is folded out to its full size as it shows in full colour the entire London neighbourhood featuring Juniper aloft on her very own reindeer.
9. As our next Christmas is around the corner, what are you most looking forward to and how do you plan to celebrate?
Every year we return to our home town of Wexford and stay with Jackie's mum. It's her birthday on Boxing day and the entire extended family call in for a massive party so in effect we have a second Christmas which is just as special as the first.
10. What do you have planned for 2024 in terms of creativity / writing - are there any New Year resolutions you're looking forward to breaking?
What I would like to do in 2024 is work less. I have vowed to write only one book next year but in all honesty I said that last year and wrote five which is too many. Only Stephen 'The King' King can write so many books and have them all be amazing.