John and Juliette Atkinson
|Santa Claus -All about me is a charming and wonderfully informative book by and about Santa Claus compiled by the creative team of John and Juliette Atkinson. I was very fortunate that this close before Christmas I was able to interview not only the Atkinsons, but Santa Claus himself.
Santa, what inspired you or prompted you to write the book All about me?
Well, writing the journal was actually the idea of a very good friend of mine from Austria. He really thought it would be fun and do you know; he was quite right. I can't tell you how surprised I was at all the things I'd forgotten - so many good friends I've made and so many new innovations which I rather like to think I might have had some influence on!
How were you able to convince J & J to take on such a project?
Meeting J&J was rather a good stroke of luck really. Bumping into John as I was walking along the beach was quite unnerving - he really does look like me (although not quite as statuesque of course!) and after we'd all had a restorative ice-cream or two, we found that we had so many interests in common. Then Mrs. Claus invited them to pop up to stay, and the rest is history, as they say!
What did you enjoy the most about working on this book?
The memories of course, and the laughter - some of those cracker jokes I found when they fell out of my diary are very funny. Do you know, writing the journal has made me look around and realize what a lucky chap I've been, doing this wonderful job for over 600 years! And then of course, Mrs. Claus and I had to try quite a lot of different Christmas foods and gingerbread and pudding and mince pies...
John and Juliette, what part of this project did the two of you enjoy the most?
We loved working together on all aspects of the project, but the stories Santa Claus shared with us were amazing.
I enjoyed the writing and the research (on the odd occasion when I needed to check, Santa Claus's memory was completely accurate!)
I loved working on the illustrations, although capturing the elves was particularly challenging.
Did Santa Claus actually sit for you in your studio?
Yes, he did and the studio was full of his Christmas costumes and bits and pieces. There were quite a few trips to the North as well, once the project was underway.
We also went on lots of trips together just so we could get the true feeling of Santa Claus - it was a hard task, but someone really had to do it...
How long did it take you to accumulate all the history, the facts and the insider information?
As we had Santa Claus’s diaries to work from, we had all the raw material we needed, but we've been working on the project for about 2 years altogether, and we are still working as we have Volume 2 to be published next.
John, you bear a striking resemblance to Santa Claus, have there been mix ups?
It's funny that you should ask that, yes, children often do mistake me for Santa Claus, which is very sweet. Children seem to have a rather equivocal relationship to him, they aren't sure whether to be nervous because he knows all about them and whether they've been good or not, but they also are excited because they all love Christmas and particularly, Christmas morning and stockings!
After the holidays what are some of your upcoming projects?
Rather like Santa Claus, we love what we do, so we don't really take holidays... John is convinced that every day is already a holiday! Of course, we will be relaxing over the Christmas period with our family and after that; we will be straight on with research and illustration for All About Me volume II. We are also putting some thought into the second book which would follow I'm Sorry. Rolo, the hero of our first book, who learns how to apologize, has volunteered to learn about all sorts of things for the next one!
Santa Claus this book is all about you but I am sure you have some insider tips about J&J, I mean you’ve know them since they were children. Is there something you might be willing to share or perhaps something in particular that made you proud?
Of course, meeting one's doppelganger was a great surprise, but it does warm the heart to find someone who enjoys similar things in life. John has a great sense of humour and imagination, and I know that Mrs. Claus is secretly pleased that Juliette enjoys her recipes and has tried them all out. Of course, when I first visited John as a little boy, he didn't look at all like me, and in fact my first delivery to him was in Canada and I think, having checked my diaries, I gave him a cowboy's outfit (fortunately he didn't take it up as a career!). If you look carefully in the book, you'll see a photograph of him sitting on my knee.
A special thanks to Santa Claus. I hope you have a wonderful and successful Christmas season and a very Merry Christmas to John and Juliette Atkinson.
Respectfully submitted by a minedition Christmas elf.