Mrs. Claus only hit my Kindle on November 28th, but I stayed up past my bedtime reading it. This varied and delightful collection of stories by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, C.B. Calsing, DJ Tyrer, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Kristen Lee, Randi Perrin, Michael Leonberger, Andrew Wilson, Ross Van Dusen, MLD Curelas, Maren Matthias, Anne Luebke, Jeff Kuykendall, and Hayley Stone takes on a question I think doesn't get asked enough -- What about Mrs. Claus?
She's a mysterious figure, iconic but little known. While we all agree on certain truths about Santa Claus, the Mrs. is usually portrayed simply as an older woman in a red dress making cookies.
But what if she's more? What if she's...an alien, or a Valkyrie? What if she has Elsa-like ice powers? What if she's trapped in the North Pole and can't escape? What if she's not the hero of the story, but the villain?
In these 14 stories, compiled by Rhonda Parrish, she is everything. The book kicks off big with VanArendonk Baugh's "Wight Christmas" and doesn't stop -- and it's all a hell of a lot of fun. There's horror, humor, rock stars, steampunk airships, and ever so much more. In one of my favorite stories, the scifi "Agatha Sings to the Scorpions," the elected Mrs. Claus arrives at a refugee camp for young aliens (called Scorpions) in time for a terror attack. (It's way better than I'm describing it, but I'm trying not to ruin anything. I promise!)
Mrs. Claus is an exciting, well-put together, and more than a little bit bonkers read that has something for everyone within it's pages. It made me cheer and sometimes creeped me out a bit, but it was a great read. Call it the deconstruction of Mrs. Claus, if you will!
One of the book's contributors is my girl Randi Perrin, who answered some questions for me!
Me: Where did the inspiration for your Mrs. Claus story come from?
Randi: Going in, I had no idea where I was going. I just knew I didn't want Santa to be a character in my story. If you're familiar with anything I've ever written, I'm all about the strong women, and Rhiannon is definitely one. But every now and again, a strong woman needs some help--from where she least expects, or wants, it.
Me: Are you someone who loves the holidays? What are your traditions & must-dos?
Randi: I do love the holidays. In fact, all my Christmas shopping is already done. I start the day after Christmas most years. We go all out, decorating outside with our light up menagerie of Christmas animals: a dinosaur, some polar bears, dachshunds, and a dalmatian. Inside, we generally put up four different trees, each with a different theme and color scheme. All of our animals have personalized ornaments and stockings, as do the three of us. One of the things we always do is the kid gets a present on Christmas Eve that's always new pajamas (unicorns this year!) and we watch a movie. In the morning, we'll open presents and have a waffle breakfast before we head off to go deal with one of our crazy extended families.
Me: What song should I listen to when I read your story?
Randi: Well, the story is called "Moves Like Jagger." :)
Mrs. Claus Pairs Well With --
- Any cover of "Santa Baby" you like. Who better than Mrs. Claus to sing a song to the big guy? My personal suggestion is Eartha Kitt's original, though I appreciate Gwen Stefani's new version, too.
- Kicking back with a delicious Christmas beer, which I suspect a few of these portrayals of Mrs. Claus might enjoy. Might I suggest the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale? It's great - just a teeny bit sweet, but with holiday spices!