Before A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens met three ghosts out of time… or so it goes in the imagination of Andy Conway, the author of the bestselling Birmingham historical fantasy series of novels.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past is the thirteenth novel in the bestselling ‘Touchstone’ series, largely set in Birmingham, and this story sees Charles Dickens visiting the city on secret business, on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate for his next big literary success.
It’s Christmas Eve, 1842, a year before the publication of A Christmas Carol, and Dickens is about to meet three ‘ghosts’ and a host of other characters that will inspire him to write his famous Christmas book.
“I’ve always loved A Christmas Carol,” says Andy Conway from his home in Kings Heath. “Just like I’ve always loved time travel stories. And to me, it was always a time travel story just as much as it was a ghost story and a Christmas story. So I’ve been itching to tackle it somehow in my Touchstone series.”
“It’s also a political tale. The parallels with today are striking. Dickens wrote the Carol to deliver a sledge-hammer blow to the austerity government of Robert Peel. Dickens was appalled at how Britain had lurched to the right in the 1840s and he wrote his Christmas book to remind everyone exactly what austerity was doing to working people.”
Andy Conway rushed the writing and publication of The Ghosts of Christmas Past to meet a Christmas deadline, much like Dickens did 176 years ago.
“I was writing it right up to the 19th December deadline because I wanted it published the same day Dickens published A Christmas Carol. That meant my editor was editing it as I was writing it. On the final day I gave him the last two chapters, he responded, then I formatted the book and pressed publish. The digital self-publishing revolution means you can do that now, but I wouldn’t recommend it for every book. It’s a bit stressful!”
The Ghosts of Christmas Past is available in eBook format on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited and in paperback format.
Here’s Andy Conway reading a chapter from the book just ahead of publication at the Tippling Tales Christmas event.