Author returns to Steamboat to sign Christmas book
December 11, 2013
Steamboat Springs — For Andrew Beckham, the day and the scenery were the catalysts.
Trucking through snow on cross-country skis after a blizzard on Rabbit Ears Pass, Beckham was astonished at the beauty.
A couple of feet of snow covered the ground, and the trees were plastered with ice. But the day after, things were still.
"It was like being in a fairytale," he said. "It was extraordinary. I took a ton of pictures. I had a very strong intuitive sense about it that the pictures that day needed to somehow find their way into a project about St. Nicholas. It was a gut feeling. The quality of the place and day — it was about Saint Nicholas."
It took five years, but that vision of Rabbit Ears manifested itself into Beckham's illustrated book "The Lost Christmas Gift."
Released last year to great appeal, the book is in its second run, and Beckham will host a book signing from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Off the Beaten Path.
The first edition entirely sold out, while the book spent four weeks on The Denver Post's bestseller list.
It received national acclaim, and a second run from the publisher was requested this holiday season. The book recounts a Christmas Eve adventure that takes place on Rabbit Ears Pass.
A boy and his father, who is preparing to leave for an unnamed war, are hunting for a Christmas tree on Rabbit Ears when a blizzard strikes.
The boy, now retelling the story as a grandfather in his Steamboat home, receives a long lost package that recounts the trip to Rabbit Ears Pass 70 years earlier.
Readers revisit the journey, eventually encountering an unearthly presence that suggests it may be St. Nicholas. But is it? Who is the person who left them sticks and coal?
"I wanted to present the narrative almost as an artifact," Beckham said. "It's a work of fiction, but it's presented almost as a documentary. I wanted it to feel grounded in a real place and in a real time, creating a setting where the mystery of the St. Nicholas character becomes more powerful."
When Beckham — who serves as the visual arts department chair at St. Mary's Academy in Englewood — started to work on the artistic portion of the book, he began to do market research and found there was a demand for an illustrated book about St. Nicholas. He found "The Night Before Christmas," "Polar Express" and 2009’s “The Christmas Magic” were really the only adequate books on the market.
"I thought, 'you know there really is room in the market for a really thoughtful book on St. Nicholas,'" he said.
Beckham said the book continues to sell well and that his publisher printed many more copies the second go-around.
He's been on a mini book tour recently, promoting "The Lost Christmas Gift" and his latest photography book "Firmament."
Beckham said he will sign books Saturday but won't give a talk. He said he will be available for any questions people may have.
"I really enjoy the one-on-one interactions with readers," he said.