Today, we have the pleasure of introducing Mina Kelly. Here her hero from Flirt (A MM PNR with Selkies) tells us his favorite thing about Christmas.
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My favourite thing about Christmas?
Okay, let me think about this. You know, up until this year, I’d have struggled to give you an answer. Christmas is a social occasion, especially somewhere like Haggenby, and I’m just not a social person. But earlier this year I rescued a selkie, and he’s made sure my life hasn’t been the same since. He calls himself Flirt – more a warning than a name – and he’s the most sociable person I’ve met, so this year I was determined to do Christmas properly for his sake.
Some time back at the beginning of December Miss Penny, the head teacher at Haggenby Primary School, came to ask me a favour. I started teaching sign language classes earlier this year (mostly due to another favour I owed – Haggenby is the sort of village that just runs on favours), and she’d seen something about signing along with songs and thought it would be sweet to do that for carols. Now, I didn’t have the best singing voice when I was hearing and now I’m deaf I can’t imagine what it must sound like, and Flirt, who came with me for moral support, is mute, so he couldn’t sing along either. In the end we just did the signs, and the kids caught on pretty fast and started singing without our help. They picked up the signs pretty fast too, and all in all it was a nice end of term treat for them and the first time I’d felt really festive in years.
Haggenby is a pretty traditional village, stuck between the Yorkshire Moors and the North Sea. We don’t go carolling here, we go wassailling. See, carolling is a small group of people going around asking all the houses for a little money, usually for charity. Wassailling is every person in the village turning up at the house of the richest one and caterwauling at them until they give us booze and food. We don’t have a manor house any more – coastal erosion struck a blow for the proletariat there – so we all go to the vicarage instead. I hadn’t been in years – again, being deaf, carolling didn’t do much for me – but Flirt is new to Haggenby and had never had the pleasure, so on Christmas Eve I put my hearing aid in and we all trooped up the hill together. What was really sweet was the kids, all sat on their parents’ shoulders and so on, signing along with the songs like I’d shown them. I hadn’t expected them to remember half of it, even a few weeks later. They got hot spiced apple juice, and us adults were given mulled cider – that’s hard cider to you Americans, plus a good tot of brandy in it as well – and everyone got mince pies, then the vicar led us to the church for a late night service.
I’m not the religious sort, so I hadn’t been in the church in years – maybe not since my mother’s funeral, now I think about it. It was certainly sobering walking through the graveyard, full of distance ancestors, but the inside was bright and cheerful and beautifully decorated with candles and ribbons and holly and ivy. The service was about welcoming strangers, unlike the innkeepers in Bethlehem, and Jesus representing tolerance and love. Now, like I said, it’s been years since I last went, so maybe the vicar always pulls something like this out for Christmas, but it felt really personal.
Afterwards we went to the pub for a nightcap and to cheer Christmas Day in. I kissed Flirt under the mistletoe, and everyone cheered that too, because that mulled cider had been pretty strong and now there was champagne going around and everyone likes cheering stuff when they’re drunk. And I cheered too, because I was drunk and happy and it was Christmas.
It’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow, and I’m still buzzing from Christmas. No, from this whole year. It’s been the best year of my life so far, I’m not ashamed to say. If you want to know why, the whole story will be available from Loose Id come January 21st. Look for Flirt, by Mina Kelly, in all major ebook retailers. Check out her website for more info.
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Mina Kelly lives in one of England’s most historic cities. During the day she cooks from Roman recipes and swings medieval swords, trying to convince the tourists that history is more than just a pretty background to a photograph. From this she draws inspiration for her mixed up myths and flirtatious fairy tales, and has an especial fondness for things that go bump in the night.
She rarely uses Goodreads, due in most part to the really annoying facebook connect aspect, and would delete the whole thing if she didn’t appreciate that readers expect to be able to find her here. If you actually want to communicate with Mina Kelly, she would like to suggest her facebook page, twitter, LibraryThing account, or even her own blog.
Toby’s happy with his life in the small fishing village of Haggenby. At least, he thought he was. When he rescues a selkie who identifies himself as Flirt in sign language–not so much a name as a warning label, as Toby’s father notes–he’s forced to recognise he’s withdrawn from the world, and the world thinks it’s because he lost his hearing in his teens.
Stung, Toby takes Flirt out on a date, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people: scientists keen to dissect Flirt and prove the existence of the supernatural. Flirt is kidnapped and Toby must attempt a daring rescue if he wants to keep his lover. He just hopes his lover wants to be kept.