Peter Fenton is a writer and producer based in the greater Philadelphia area, and this year, he took us on a tour of his comedic talent through the North Pole. See Amid the Winter Snow has become an instant holiday classic that is overflowing with witty and sharp Christmassy phrasing, present-day satire of holiday lore, politics, and the magic of the holiday season. Fenton sat down with us to discuss his inspiration for his characters and what is next for them!
Where did you find the inspiration for your book?
Every Christmas Eve when I was a kid, my siblings and I would leave a letter for Santa Claus alongside whatever milk and cookie offerings we had for him that year. We’d ask about things like the reindeer, or Mrs. Claus, or if he had any children of his own — and every year, my father would write a detailed letter back in character as Santa Claus. The stories my father would tell would make me imagine a rich, embodied world existing up there in Santa’s North Pole — and I’ve always wanted to tell a story drawing on this rich Christmas world.
What’s your favorite part or piece in this work?
The Snowman narrator definitely became one of my very favorite voices ever to write in — he’s warm, sassy, and kind of a troll (essentially, I know — I wrote Dolly Parton). I love the way he folds Christmas song lyrics pretty seamlessly into his speech patterns and the interactive way he engages with the story he’s telling. He’s the source of a lot of the fun this script has to offer!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have three complete works that nobody will ever see — because they’re bad. I wrote the first draft of my first play, which eventually would see publication in 2019 (after about ten years of edits), when I was fourteen years old. Immediately afterward, I wrote three works when I was in high school while I was trying to find my voice: a shitty sequel to that first play that committed all the normal sins that bad sequels tend to commit, a detective murder mystery I had no business writing at that age, and a faith-based teen drama where there was neither sexual tension nor real conflict.
I finally did find a writer’s voice that worked when I was in college as I updated the first play, wrote a brand-new non-sequel play, and an award-winning screenplay. Those three projects and everything I’ve written since has seen or will see publication. I currently have one unfinished screenplay that I’m working on for an independent filmmaker.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I loosely based Mitchell and Daisy on my parents, so picking an M name and a D name representing mom and dad (even though they were gender-inverted) was a way of paying homage to them. Daisy also rings, to me anyway, a little like Scrooge’s love interest Belle in Christmas Carol — and Mitchell sounds to me like a name Santa Claus would give his son.
Do you hope to visit these characters again someday?
In the right time, with the right idea? Sure! These characters are really fun. I’m not sure where I would take the story from the ending, but there’s definitely a rich world up there at the North Pole. I could see a lot of interesting ground I could tread with some of the more minor characters like the Snowman, IdaLynn, Ebenezer Whitfield, Maureen Gaines Claus. Mitch and Daisy are great, too! I definitely wouldn’t rule out a sequel or spin-off to See Amid.
Peter Fenton’s See Amid the Winter Snow was published through City Limits Publishing on November 17th, 2020. You can order it via its website, Amazon, Kindle, and other digital platforms.