‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2017 with Destiny Soria

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of this year’s participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Destiny Soria

Destiny Soria grew up in a tiny town in Alabama that you’ve never heard of, where she spent her summers playing with sticks in the woods and exploring such distinguished careers as Forest Bandit, Wayward Orphan, and Woodland Fairy Princess. After college, she ran away to New Zealand for seven months and only pretended to be a character from Lord of the Rings on special occasions. Nowadays she lives and works in the shadow of the mighty Vulcan in Birmingham, AL. She is the author of Iron Cast, a YA historical fantasy set in 1920s Boston, and the upcoming YA fantasy Beneath The Citadel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

My favorite movie is Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Not my favorite holiday movie. My favorite movie, full stop. If you haven’t seen it (what are you doing with your life) or if you only saw it that one time at that one Christmas party and you had to leave halfway through, here is the movie in a nutshell: A guardian angel named Clarence (played by the fabulous Henry Travers) shows a selfless, troubled businessman named George Bailey what the world would be like if he had never existed. Spoiler alert: the world is worse off without him.

The movie is about a lot more than that though. It’s about love (“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”). It’s about social responsibility (“Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him.”). It’s about friendship (“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”).

Every year, my father and I watch It’s A Wonderful Life together. This tradition is sacrosanct. Sometimes we watch it on Christmas Eve, curled up on the couch, dozing off occasionally because we both know the entire film by heart anyway. Sometimes we go see it at the historic Alabama Theatre (I actually stopped in the middle of writing this sentence to buy tickets before I forgot). Last year we went to a live radio broadcast with actors so spectacular that it was like watching the movie in your head.

After 9/11, my dad spent two years in the Middle East with the National Guard. One year for Christmas he came home for a few days and the whole family watched the movie in a huddle of blankets and hot chocolate, trying to lose ourselves for a couple hours in the friendly familiarity of Bedford Falls. Another year he wasn’t granted leave, and he watched the movie on his personal DVD player in an army compound somewhere classified while I sat on the living room couch and pretended to pay attention to this film I loved so much. Then there was the year I spent in New Zealand, when we once again observed our tradition on different continents. My dad watched it with my baby cousins while I watched it alone on a stranger’s bed, sobbing my way through and vowing to never be away from home on the holidays again.

I think that at its crux, It’s A Wonderful Life is about the interconnectedness of human existence, about how every life influences other lives in a million ways, about how your every action — whether kind or selfish — has ripple effects that you may never understand. As Clarence wisely says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” When I was a kid, what I wanted more than anything was to change the world. To make such a big difference that when I was gone, people would notice and care and grieve. I know that’s probably a weird thing for a little kid to be worried about, but we all have our existentialist moments, don’t we?

Here’s a secret: this tradition with my father started because I was the only one who would watch black and white movies with him, and also I had a major crush on Jimmy Stewart (shhhh don’t tell my dad). The tradition only continued because every year I wanted the reminder that changing the world doesn’t mean you have to be rich or famous. You just have to be kind. You just have to be generous. You just have to love people and let them love you in return.

But here’s the big secret: in the end, it doesn’t really matter what It’s A Wonderful Life Life is about. It’s a beautiful film, but there’s nothing particularly transcendent about it. (I mean, it’s the very definition of hashtag Middle Class White Dude Problems.) Our tradition could just as easily have been Miracle On 34th Street or White Christmas or Die Hard (actually, hmm, not a bad idea). More than anything, It’s A Wonderful Life is about me and my father on the couch, dozing off occasionally because we both know the entire film by heart anyway. A real and tangible interconnectedness of human existence.

But maybe that’s just the existentialist in me.

Title Beneath The Citadel
Author Destiny Soria
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Fantasy
To Be Published Fall 2018 by Abrams/Amulet
Find It On Goodreads

In a city ruled by seers whose fifty infallible prophecies brought first acclaim and then ruin to their people, four teens are the remnants of a failed rebellion. Caught between a scheming chancellor and an enigmatic executioner, they must uncover a secret final prophecy in order to save their home and themselves.

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