Charles Dickens.

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Charles Dickens

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Patricia K. Davis

A Midnight Carol.Patricia K. Davis's novel, A Midnight Carol, is a fact-based novel about the creation of one of the best-loved books of all time, A Christmas Carol.  

Richard Lederer, author of The Miracle of Language and Anguished English, states, "In A Midnight Carol Patricia Davis illuminates the dark and brilliant humanity of Charles Dickens -- the man who lived a rags-to-riches life more remarkable than any of his stories." 

On November 17, 2000 Ms. Davis shared some thoughts with us about Dickens, A Christmas Carol and her novel.

Q - How did you get the idea for your book?
A - The underlying idea for the book was my mother’s. She had been a children’s librarian and lover of children’s literature all of her adult life. In addition, she was—like Dickens—a very hard-working champion of literacy. She proposed the idea of introducing a literate young hero into this harrowing chapter in the life of Dickens.

Q - What kind of research did you do for the book?
A - The best (and my favorite) form of research consisted of walking at great length London’s varied boroughs and neighborhoods which I have been privileged to do in five visits there. Among archives, I would credit the University of San Diego’s Copley Library in my own hometown where I found, to my delight, many of the primary sources. I did not yet have a personal computer and could not conduct research on the Web, so that Library was an unusual stroke of good luck. In sum, I drew on many disparate sources, even the lore of my late, Great Aunt Margaret who introduced me to the dark side of Oliver Cromwell.

Q - When did you first become interested in Dickens?
A - I was 14 years old and living in Hawaii. There I was, a denizen of Paradise, and the power of Dickens’ prose transported me from my immediate circumstances to the London of Oliver Twist. I was literally spellbound by the man’s storytelling powers.

Q - We tend to have a romanticized view of the Victorian Era. However for many people it was a time of desperate poverty. Do you have any thoughts on this?
A - The London of Dickens’ boyhood was every bit as frightening as depicted in my book. Queen Victoria really had little impact or effect on society at this time. Not until much later did "Victorian England" come into being along with the significant urban improvements of the Reform Movement. I wrote of a decade you might call a hangover of the Regency Period. It wasn’t really Georgian; it wasn’t really Victorian.

Q - What would Dickens think about the popularity of A Christmas Carol?
A - I don’t think Dickens would be the least bit surprised by the enduring popularity of A Christmas Carol. His faith in the story moved not a mountain but a Kingdom. How did he know? He also saw for himself its impact on the public through those enormously popular staged readings of his.

Q - Are you working on another book? If so, can you give us any hints about what's to come?
A - I have so many pots on the stove, I’ll boil over before they do. I need about six lifetimes to get these things done.

Q - Do you have a favorite movie version of A Christmas Carol? If so, which one?
A - Despite the many merits of other productions, I see first the rubbery face of George C. Scott as Scrooge. As for voice, Patrick Stewart’s one-man rendition is haunting.

Q - What's your favorite Dickens novel?
A - After A Christmas Carol (of course) A Tale of Two Cities and Twist, the latter for the deep impression it left at a formative age and for its breakthrough qualities, too often forgotten in the more highly sentimentalized adaptations.

Q - When you were researching the life of Dickens what did you learn that surprised you the most? 
A - . I never knew that Dickens was so ashamed of his impoverished boyhood and his father’s imprisonment, that not even his closest friends or in-laws knew his personal history. So there he was, bravely championing the rights of the downtrodden while fearing all the time exposure of his own shame. This represents for me moral courage and uncommon altruism, attributes that made Dickens not just greatly gifted but great.

About the author:  This is Ms. Davis's first novel. She lives in San Diego County.