Averill's fourth novel, A Carol Dickens Christmas, is a Christmas story, set in his hometown of Topeka, Kan. It's filled with recipes, puns, and modern characters inspired by Charles Dickens.
"He (Dickens) invented contemporary Christmas as really more of a secular than a religious holiday," says Averill of the Victorian era novelist, known for works such as A Christmas Carol.
"He defined the spirit of Christmas as a time when people opened their hearts up, as a charitable time, as a warm time, as a giving time."
Averill says, as a writer, he likes to "work within a known structure." And, he says, the Christmas holiday provided this for A Carol Dickens Christmas, which also draws on his own family stories.
"Each family has their own unique set of traditions and I thought that would be an interesting plot almost, if you will. The plot of Christmas," says Averill. "How do we get through this time that's both exhilarating and exhausting?"
New Letters on the Air, public radio's longest-running literary program, is a half-hour program that is produced by New Letters magazine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Listen to the entire interview with Thomas Fox Averill here.