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Posted December 19, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Author co-writes new Christmas book

By Josette Keelor

WOODSTOCK -- Jason F. Wright's latest book isn't like all his others.

The New York Times bestselling author of "The Wednesday Letters" and "Christmas Jars" recently published "Picturing Christmas," but the novella is an experiment on many levels. He co-wrote it with his brother Sterling of Charlottesville, who uses the pen name Adrien Fuss. They self-published the book and intended it to be an e-book exclusively.

Then word got out about the book, and Wright said Woodstock residents literally stopped him on the street asking for their own bound copy.

They told him "I want a book that I can give to someone on Christmas," he remembered. "I've always said that I work for my readers," he said. "They are the boss. The boss said we would like a print copy, please."

The story of a young woman whose move to New York City goes drastically wrong even before she gets there, "Picturing Christmas" is about figuring out how to make Christmas feel as special as it did in our best memories.

"I think this is the universal theme of this book and every Christmas book," he said. "What made Christmas great? It probably wasn't all the stuff under the tree. ... For most of us, our favorite Christmases are either our own as children or Christmases where we now have children."

The original story idea was Fuss's idea, and because Wright always wanted to collaborate on a story with his eldest sibling, the two hatched their plan.

"This is something where we really were looking at every word together," Wright said.

In a phone interview from Charlottesville, Fuss said he thought up the book's ending first and then filled in the storyline from there.

Now Fuss is working on another Christmas story, a work in progress he's been chronicling since Thanksgiving on the website WritingChristmas.com.

"I did have the idea fully formed before I wrote anything down," he said. Turning around a story in a month has been a little stressful, he said, but "it's been enjoyable so far."

He collaborated on "Picturing Christmas" to get more writing experience, but then he left the rest up to his brother.

"This is really his project so I deferred to him," Fuss said. "Getting the book out was all him."

In his Woodstock home, Wright's dining room table looks more like Santa's mail room these days: Priority mailers with books he packaged himself and has been sending to readers sit piled beside a mountain of books.

His family is big on Christmas, he said, so it's no surprise the new book is his fourth holiday novel.

"People love Christmas books," he said. "They just love how they make them feel -- the memories that they awaken. I think Christmas books remind us of the Christmas we want, whether we have it or not. It's all about the Christmas we want."

Wright said he's bypassed all traditional publishing routes to sell "Picturing Christmas" locally -- risky business, considering he's never done anything like it before.

"I've learned more from this project than any other book I've ever written," he said.

"We might be successful, we might fall on our face and fail miserably, but that's all right with me," he said. "Failure has never frightened me."

"Picturing Christmas," by Jason F. Wright with Adrien Fuss, is for sale locally at Ben's and Four Star Printing, both in Woodstock, and People's Drug Store in Strasburg, or online at PicturingChristmas.com. It's also available for e-reader. For more information about Wright, visit jasonfwright.com, or for more information about Fuss, studiofuss.com.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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