Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


All they want for Christmas is…

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all thru the land,

Writers were uninspired and feeling so bland.

The last posts of the year should be brilliant and pithy,

But who has the energy? Oh, more’s the pity!

So here’s an idea I stole from my friend,

I hope she’ll forgive me if I plug her no end!

Thank you to Patricia Lynne for this wonderfully fun blog post idea of asking our characters what they’d like for Christmas. Please check out her blog and her books, and guess what? She makes bookmarks too. Check out her shop.

Now, even though I stole this idea from Patricia, that didn’t mean it was easy. Hell’s no! It’s never easy to ask my characters anything. Not only are they busy people (and creatures), I had to risk my life just to reach some of them. But there’s no risk too great for a riveting blog post, is there? So here goes. Let’s hope I make it back in one piece.

What do you want for Christmas?


Jackson Stone from J.H. Moncrieff's popular GhostWriters' series.

Sorry ladies, the man is taken.

Jackson Stone, from the GhostWriters series (City of Ghosts, The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, Temple of Ghosts.) I caught up with Jackson in Nightridge, Vermont, where our favourite ghost hunter is preparing to spend his very first Christmas with Kate. He’s finally getting a much-needed break, catching up on his writing, and appeared to be in good spirits.

“What do I want for Christmas? No ghosts. Seriously, that shit gets tired. I’m really glad you didn’t have time to write that GhostWriters holiday novella this year, because sometimes a guy needs a break. Aside from that, I’m easy. Vermont looks like a fricking Thomas Kinkade painting–what better place to spend Christmas? That said, I’d kill for a piece of Mom’s sweet potato pie. Gonna miss that this year. And a new scarf would be nice. Mine’s looking ragged. Oh, and if those easily offended millennials would stop calling me sexist, that would be great. Ladies, I’m sorry, but you do pack more than dudes. Deal with it. Seriously.”


Kate Carlsson, from the GhostWriters series (City of Ghosts, The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, Temple of Ghosts.)Kate Carlsson from author J.H. Moncrieff's popular GhostWriters' series

“Jacks, you have to stop being so reticent. It’s always so difficult to figure out what you’re thinking. *sighs*

What do I want for Christmas, honestly? I’d love peace for Lily and her family. They’ve been through so much. And peace for Fatima and her family, wherever they may be. Other than that, I’ve got pretty much everything I could ever want. Maybe some gift certificates to our favourite Thai restaurant? It’s almost impossible to keep Jackson in mee krob.”

Jackson: “Oh sure, blame me–like I’m the one who always steals the last of the noodles. And did you seriously just wish for peace on earth? Thanks a lot, Kate. Thanks for making me look like an asshole.”

I leave Jackson and Kate to their goodnatured bickering (hey, it apparently works for them) and head over to the South Pacific to check in on Flora and Nøkken from Monsters in Our Wake. Both are excited to hear Severed Press will publish a new J.H. Moncrieff creature extravaganza in the New Year, this time featuring yetis. (Who doesn’t love yetis?)

Flora: “Hmm…well, I’d love a new job that doesn’t require going anywhere near the ocean. My son could use some new karate gear, especially a gi. He’s growing so fast. Did I tell you I finally cobbled together enough money for his lessons? He’s doing so well; I’m really proud of him. Archie has become a dear friend, and he’ll be spending Christmas with us this year–can hardly wait. I can honestly say I feel truly blessed.”

Jackson: “Great, even Flora makes me look like an asshole. Can I revise my list?”

J.H. Moncrieff's best-selling thriller Monsters in Our WakeNøkken: “Well, this is a delight. Do you realize no one has ever asked me what I’d like for Christmas in all the millennia I’ve been alive? Which is an unfortunate oversight, you must agree. Aside from the obvious, that humans stop using my home as their own personal garbage disposal, (Author’s note: Nøkken lives in the ocean) I would adore some extra-salty plankton. And perhaps, but only as a special treat, a sautéed giant squid. Those are a true delicacy. It is a tad quiet around here these days, so another wife might be a pleasant addition.”

*mulls it over for a second or two*

“And then again, perhaps not.”


Creeping into the closet where Edgar, the misunderstood and much beleaguered teddy bear from The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, is The Bear Who Wouldn't Leavehiding, I force myself not to grimace at the smell. Edgar reeks. Someone tried to bury him in the garbage dump again. Why must kids be so cruel?

Edgar: “What I want is simple. It’s what every teddy bear wants, really. To be loved. To be loved, and have a comfortable pillow to sleep on. That would be the best gift ever. Maybe something could be done with my teeth too, so they’re not quite so scary? But I’ll settle for a pillow.”

Jake Glover, the police chief of Rapture, Minnesota, sips his morning coffee. He looks up when I walk into the diner and gives me his trademark grin and a wink. Even though he’s got more salt than pepper in his hair now, he’s still an incredibly handsome man. If you’ve yet to meet Jake, his story is featured in Lost, which is available for free in my Hidden Library.

Jake: “I’ve already got the best gift ever. Audrey married me a few years back, and Sarah has grown into a wonderful young woman. She’s a social worker now, helping troubled kids. We’re so proud of her. But, if you insist on getting me something, I could really use a new pair of gloves.” He holds up his hands to show how threadbare his current ones are. The tip of his right index finger is poking through. “You know how cold it gets in Minnesota over the winter. New gloves are always welcome.”

Do Yetis exist?Minnesota gets cold all right, but it’s nothing compared to Russia’s Ural Mountains, where Nat McPherson is currently stranded. You haven’t met Nat yet, so allow me to introduce her. Nat is the host of Mysterious World, an immensely popular podcast produced in California. Currently, she and her team are investigating the Dyatlov Pass Incident, and to say it isn’t going well would be the year’s biggest understatement. You’ll be able to read more about Nat when Severed Press releases Dead of Winter in the New Year.

Nat: “You know damn well what I want. I want off this bloody mountain.”

That wraps up my Christmas wish tour. Thanks again to Patricia Lynne for the great idea. Did I mention Patricia is awesome? Just wanted to make sure no one missed that.

As for me, I want nothing more than to be able to keep working as a full-time novelist. I’ve been focusing on fiction full time for six months, and it’s impossible to say if this will be a sustainable career by the time my savings run out, but that is my hope, my dream, and my one wish. That, and love. I’ve come to realize that with love–healthy, respectful, compassionate, considerate love–nothing feels insurmountable. The Beatles had it right. It’s all we really need.

How about you, dear readers? What would you ask Santa for? In the upcoming weeks, I’ll have author JG Faherty talking about Krampus, and you don’t want to miss that, but this time of year gets busy, so just in case, I’ll wish you a very happy holiday and the best of New Years right now. Thanks for being here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Chris Chelser

    Love this! What a wonderful idea (and well stolen ;P).

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    Funny! Who doesn’t want certificates to a great Thai restaurant?
    Merry Christmas, JH!

  3. Heather M. Gardner

    What a great post! It’s a fun way to introduce your characters to readers!
    Order up! Extra-salty plankton and a sautéed giant squid!
    I saw a commercial the other day for a TV show called something like Holiday Homicide all about murders on Christmas and thought of you! 🙂
    Merry/ Happy/Festive!

  4. Catherine Cavendish

    Great post, J.H. I hope you get all you wish for in 2018 and that your characters continue to work hard for you 😉

  5. rbpublishing

    Ok. This was an AMAZING idea. Might have to steal it from you. 😉

    Also, I kind of felt bad for Nokken! No one ever cared what he wanted for Christmas. It’s ok, buddy. Let’s get you some plankton and some squid. Can’t do much about the wife part, but we can hang out and go fishing together. <3

  6. Dave Burnham

    What a great idea and such an enjoyable read. Wishing you an awesome festive season.

  7. Lisa S.

    Oooh! I love this.
    Enjoyed hearing what Jake was up to these days in Minnesota, and Flora and Nokken, too. Jake and Kate definitely seem like an old married couple (lol!)…in a good way of course. 🙂
    I hope you have an incredible Christmas, and I’ll be praying for your continued success. You’ve already knocked it out of the park this year, so we’ll be excited to see what further achievements you accomplish. Love you, man!

  8. Mary Aalgaard

    Excellent post! So fun to read what your characters want for Christmas. The Nokken one made me laugh. That’s what I want, a few more laughs for the holidays and into 2018. I wish you love, support, and success. You deserve it. Love your writing!

  9. Rebecca Douglass

    I love this post idea, and may need to steal your stealing! (At what point does it stop being stealing and become a blog hop or something?). Seriously, it’s a great way to introduce your characters and your books.

    Here’s wishing you the best with the full-time fiction thing.

  10. Lee Lowery

    What fun! This might be a good exercise at any time of the year when one gets stuck with a character’s direction.

  11. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    Fun! And I’m all for good pillows, too. 🙂

    Have a wonderful holiday! Wishing you all the best in 2018!

  12. Nikki B.

    I absolutely LOVED this!! Jacks cracks me up, I loved his answers. These seemed like exactly what your characters would say; at least the ones that I’ve met already! 🙂 What a great idea and a fun post for the holidays! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and get to relax some. Still can’t wait for more of your stories!

  13. Liesbet

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post, all of it: the stolen idea, the poem, your wish and, of course, getting to know your characters better. Beautifully written and answered. I hope your wish will be granted. you are definitely working and focusing hard enough on that goal. May 2018 be incredibly productive and successful for you, my friend!!

    As for me, I have everything I need and couldn’t possibly carry more stuff around in our camper, so I’m all set for Christmas.

  14. Anna

    I’m with the rest. Very festive and fun. 🙂

  15. Ryan Carty

    Okay, that was awesome. Let’s have a recurring post where Jackson and Kate just talk, ramble on for an hour or two. I’ll get my popcorn ready, pull up a chair and enjoy the fireworks!

  16. Patricia Lynne

    Haha. Your characters’ wishlists were great. I’m glad you stole the idea. It was so much fun.

  17. Ellen Jacobson

    This is such a cute blog post! Love the idea of asking your characters what they want for Christmas. I think my fave is Nokken’s reply. Hope your holidays are wonderfully joyous!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.