The holidays always bring out a wealth of new Christmas books. Among those hoping to find a place under the tree and on your shelf this year is “Christmas Eve in the Mountain State.” Written for children or just fans of all things West Virginia, it celebrates the state county by county.
Bill Lynch spoke with author Marly Hazen Ynigues about her very “pun-y” book.
Lynch: Marly great talking to you tell me a little about Christmas Eve in the Mountain State. When did you start this?
Ynigues: I started writing Christmas Eve in the Mountain State in 2016.
More recently, I’ve found a wonderful artist to work with, Emily Prentice in Elkins, from the Mycelium Creative Art Space.
She’s a graduate of fine arts from Davis and Elkins College. And she really helped put some more fun West Virginia touches into the story.
Recently, I’ve been working with Joshua Singleton, a voice artist from Grafton, who’s working on creating an audio book of the story.
Lynch: Why do a Christmas book about all 55 counties?
Ynigues: Everybody knows how exciting it is to see West Virginia get a shout out in the news or in a piece of entertainment. And I wanted to make sure not only do we see West Virginia celebrated, but we see everybody celebrated, even in your own individual counties; in many cases, in hometowns across the state.
So, you have a lot of fun tidbits like, “Kanawha” celebrate with you and rally around the tree?”
Everybody’s a part of the story here.
Lynch: Well, 55 counties, and some of them are kind of a mouthful. What was the most difficult one to work in?
Ynigues: I’d say there are a couple of them like my own county of Monongalia, where it doesn’t lend quite as easily to rhyming, as it were. Some of these kind of act as more of a stand in for the names. I am working on including them more in some future stories. So, I’m trying to make sure everyone’s a piece of the story. And everyone has a colorful way to remember it.
Lynch: How difficult was it to line everything up, to make it all work?
Ynigues: It has just been a labor of love. There’s so many wonderful people who’ve supported along the way and given great feedback and, you know, help to become a representation of West Virginia. It was tough, but definitely worth it to be able to tell a part of our story here.
Lynch: What’s your favorite part about the Christmas season in West Virginia?
Ynigues: I love the snow. I just I love sledding. I grew up somewhere where we might have one day of snow a year and then maybe every few years, we get up to three inches of snow. So having these wonderful, beautiful snowy hills is just so much fun.
Lynch: Where are you from?
Ynigues: I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, originally.
Lynch: Well outside of writing a children’s book, what’s your day job like? What do you do besides that?
Ynigues: I do communications. So, I love storytelling. And I was also a history student and learned all about Appalachian culture and did some research on a mine war’s community. And previously I’ve also been a city councilor in Elkins. So just appreciating the culture, from learning about it as a new arrival, and then just really getting involved.
This taught me so much love for the state.
Lynch: Any big plans for the guest the holiday season?
Ynigues: I’m just excited to help share West Virginia story with everyone.
Lynch: The book is called “Christmas Eve in the Mountain State.” Marly, thanks for talking with us.
Ynigues: Thank you so much Bill. Happy holidays!