Fans of Hattiesburg author Jason Beverly’s books are familiar with his usual blend of topics such as history, urban legends, racial issues, folklore and supernatural elements.
But for “Christmas Clues,” his recently released fifth publication, Beverly takes a more lighthearted approach with a holiday-themed tale about a man and his visit to a little town called Christmas, Mississippi.
“I just wanted to do something happy,” said Beverly, who serves as dean of student services at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. “Believe it or not, at first I started writing a book, and the backdrop was going to be the whole COVID-19 pandemic.
“That book’s pretty much finished, but my wife convinced me that it wasn’t time for that right now, and she was right. I’d already started writing a Christmas book about a year ago, so I picked that up and went ahead and finished that out. That’s how it came to be.”
“Christmas Clues” tells the story of Cam Cade, who wakes up alongside a dark country road and realizes his wife is missing.
The only thing Cade remembers is that he and his wife had been arguing during a trip to a festival in Gulfport before pulling over at a gas station to talk things out.
While beginning the search for his wife, Cade ends up in Christmas, where he meets a strange lady known as Candy Lady.
She tells Cade how to find his wife, but to do that, he must find 12 clues to lead him to her.
“It’s just a happy, feel-good Christmas story about a man searching for his wife, and along the way he learns a lot of valuable lessons about life in general,” Beverly said. “He comes across a lot of traditional Christmas favorites that are associated with the song ‘The 12 Days of Christmas,’ so he sees a partridge in a pear tree along the way, nine drummers drumming and all that stuff. So, it’s a lighthearted Christmas book, which is unusual for me.”
“Christmas Clues” follows Beverly’s previous books, “Ghosts of Beauvoir,” “The Flying Church of Orleans Parish,” “Mississippi Revival Roads” and “Releasing Magnolias Along the Mystical Railway: A Collection of Mississippi Ghost Tales.” The books can be found at jasonbeverly.com.
“I wanted to write this book, and I kept thinking about what would be the perfect location for it,” Beverly said. “I thought maybe the Hattiesburg area, then I thought maybe about the coast, and then I came across Christmas, Mississippi.
“It’s no longer a town; it used to be a town up in the Mississippi Delta. I thought, ‘wow,’ and that’s how I ended up coming up with the setting for the book.”
“Christmas Clues” is the first in a planned trilogy, with the tentative titles “More Christmas Clues” and “The Most Christmas Clues” (or “The Final Christmas Clues”) to follow.
“There’s just been so much going on over the past year, with the pandemic and just all the other things that are going on in our country,” Beverly said. “I just want people to be able to kind of escape to this magical place and be away from all that for a while.”