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I Found It Just As Interesting

Colleen Brice
Colleen Brice Author Interview

Ships, Sleighs and Christmas Lights tells the story of how a young boy from Patara grew into the man we now think of as Saint Nicholas. What inspired you to write this story?

There are many wonderful things about gift-giving at Christmas time but for Christians who celebrate the holiday, it can be tricky separating the commercial from the spiritual. I have friends who want to embrace the fun of the season with their children, while making them aware of the historical figures associated with Christmas. I wrote the book with them in mind. Having researched Nikolaos’ life, I found it just as interesting as some of the fantasy stories about Santa Claus.

What were some of the challenges you had moving from being an illustrator to an author and illustrator?

I am used to complimenting an author’s words with illustrations so owning both aspects of picture book storytelling was a new experience for me. An outline of the story came first, then I sketched some of the key scenes. I worked with an editor before I started drawing, so the text was finalised and I knew how much space would be needed in the layout for the illustrations.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Nikolaos is recognised as a saint. I wanted to explore ways in which his upbringing shaped his beliefs. Not everyone will relate to him in this way but I’d like to think the book will be of interest to people with different beliefs too. Much of the book is about culture and the ways in which we influence one another (hopefully for the better). Although our clothes and countries of origin may appear to be different, people are always drawn to goodness.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

There were so many legends about Saint Nicholas to draw on and some were only hinted at in Christmas Lights. I am writing a story about three young girls whose father fell on hard times. Nikolaos allegedly provided the family with special gifts but I wanted to tell the story from the girls’ perspective so they have a sense of agency. Most girls work hard but are not given opportunities or rewards. I’d like to think a privileged man like Nikolaos would address such imbalances. I hope to publish it in time for Christmas 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Snow-covered trees, twinkling lights and sleighs – these remind us of Christmas. But what about sunlit hills, an ancient lighthouse or a wooden ship at sea. Discover where Saint Nicholas (or Nikolaos) came from and follow him on his adventures. Did he really wear a red suit and deliver gifts to children? Learn how people living in different times and places added a bit of themselves to his story.

Ships, Sleighs and Christmas Lights

This stunning picture book captures the spirit of Christmas even if told from a perspective most have never heard of. Based off of the biblical story of Saint Nicholaos, the author intertwines how other cultures have added their twist to the story to lead it to the familiar story of a red suit and hat with reindeer.

Young Nikolaos was raised in Patara, a shipping town where he was taught to pray and about the life of Jesus and God. Inspired by the stories of Jesus, Nikolaos traveled to Jerusalem to visit all the places he learned of. He embodied the spirit of Jesus by giving all he could to those less fortunate than himself. When he was returning home his ship ran into a bad storm and he prayed that they would return to land safely. His faith and kindness are examples of where the spirit of the modern Saint Nick comes from. Saint Nikolaos was known for leaving gifts outside children’s windows, or just handing out things that they needed as he could. The tradition of gift-giving was started as a means to show kindness and help each other.

This picture book will entertain young readers and give them a historical perspective without dampening the excitement of the holiday season. This thought-provoking children’s book allows children to see that different cultures believe different versions of the same story. Captivating illustrations accompany the narrative and make for an engaging experience.

Ships, Sleighs and Christmas Lights: The Origins of Saint Nicholas is a delightful picture book that religious educators and families can all enjoy around the holiday season. It focuses on the meaning of Christmas and not the commercialization of the day. The historical fiction in this children’s book is a great conversation starter as well for what life was like in the fourth century.

Pages: 44 | ASIN : B09M3QXBLB

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