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Red Deer author Harley Hay has created some new and unusual holiday stories

His ’Christmas Shorts’ book contains six “twisty, turny” tales
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. (Facebook photo)

Red Deer author Harley Hay has crammed some of the magic and mystery of the Christmas season into a new book of short stories.

Hay calls this latest volume, Christmas Shorts: Six Curious Christmases, Six Strange Stories. They are “strange” because there are unexpected twists and turns and, in some cases, inexplicable elements in each of them, said Hay.

For instance, an Australian boy learns to fly in one of these tales. A grandmother finds magic in her 94th Christmas in another story, while a university student travelling home for the holidays finds a miracle on the road.

Another tale unfolds through letters sent between pen pals. “It’s called an epistolary story. I’ve always wanted to write one of those,” said Hay.

He explained his aim with this collection was to create sweet family tales that are also inspiring, especially to young adult readers.

His favourite author while growing up was Jean Shepherd — the American humourist and radio personality best known for conceiving the tale behind the perennial holiday movie A Christmas Story.

Just as Hay preferred Shepherd’s nostalgic tone to Roald Dahl’s edgy one, he hopes some young adult readers today will find comfort in the uplifting worlds he’s created in Christmas Shorts.

“I’m more Mary Poppins than Game of Thrones,” Hay joked. “This world is hard enough, so let’s put up some colourful lights and feel good about things for a while…”

This is the Advocate columnist’s seventh book. Just like several of his previous books and column compilations, several of these new short stories are set in Red Deer, said Hay, who finds his own idyllic boyhood a constant source of inspiration.

Christmas was always a wonderful time of year at his childhood home in Parkvale, he recalled, with his mom going all-out with Christmas decorating “and spoiling us rotten.”

“I’m lucky,” said Hay, to have found a spouse who’s as much into the Christmas season as he is — and now their two adult “rotten kids” have inherited this same abundance of love for the holidays.

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