Happy holidays! In the holiday season of 2007, Orson Scott Card revisited Battle School and the life of Ender Wiggin in A War of Gifts. How, exactly, was it possible for one to write a holiday story, a Christmas story, set in the Battle School? A place where even birthdays aren’t remembered? Editor Beth Meacham had no idea, and in the December 2007 Tor Newsletter, she shared the story of how A War of Gifts came to be, and how surprising, emotional, and touching the result was. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and have a lovely holiday season!
By Beth Meacham, Executive Editor
“Wouldn’t it be fun,” we said, “to do a holiday gift book by Orson Scott Card?”
You know, those little books you see at the check-outs of book and card stores, around this time of year? Kind of a cross between a book and a card? We call them “precious size” books…and I don’t even know why. Could it be irony?
The conversation went on: What should it be? What about an Alvin story, Christmas at Horace Guester’s Inn? What about one of the other series?
“Wouldn’t it,” I asked, “be a good idea to ask Scott about this? Before we, you know, schedule the non-existent book or something? Not that we haven’t done that before.
But Scott Card had a better idea. That’s why he’s the writer—the creator—and we’re the editors and publicists and sales people who get it from him to you.
“What about an Ender story?” he said.
Ender? What? Christmas at the Battle School? You don’t normally think of Ender’s Game and heart-warming precious books together, you know? Well, at least I didn’t.
“Yes,” said Orson Scott Card. “Christmas at the Battle School. I have an idea. It won’t be warm and fuzzy, though. Is that ok?”
“Don’t tell Tom that,” I said.
So time passed. We plan these things really early, like years early. Months went by. Other books were delivered and edited and published.
Then one morning, I opened my email and found The Christmas Story waiting. It was like Christmas morning, all unexpected. I started reading it.
My coffee got cold.
I went to get a Kleenex.
It’s not warm and fuzzy—it’s deeply touching and emotional. There I was, crying over a sock. Really. No, I won’t say any more than that, you go read it. It’s not long, it won’t take you more than one wasted cup of coffee.
We called the story A War of Gifts. It’s out now. It’s an Ender story, set in his first year at the Battle School…and it’s so much more than that.