• Maya Linnell

William McInnes on Christmas traditions, sea monkeys and Spike Milligan

Updated: Dec 6, 2020


One of Australia's favourite actors, William McInnes turned his hand to novel writing after a prominent career on our television screens, with his first book being released in 2005. His new novel Christmas Tales is a darling collection of stories about Australia's festive traditions and memories from Christmasses past. I read half the book in one sitting, with tears of laughter streaming down my face. It's relatable, touching and captures the dry Aussie humour. The perfect festive read to remind us of the real reason for the season - family. William's tales are told with heart, and while his antics as a rent-a-Santa and haphazard gift choices had me in stitches, the poignant moments, especially his family's Christmas in July after a heart-breaking loss, made me teary. I very much enjoyed this special ode to Christmas, thanks to Hachette for providing the review and giveaway copy.

Five fast minutes with… William McInnes


-Do you have a good luck charm or a special token that sits on your desk/in your office?

I have a hundred and one substations, but no lucky charm. I do have some photos of my family and a print of Stan Cross’s famous “For Gwad’s sake stop larfin-this is serious!” cartoon of two construction workers from the great depression., one dangling from an iron beam the other gripping onto the other's trousers as they slip down his legs. It puts everything in perspective. My parents gave it to me and said to me that cartoon was what Australia was all about and I should never forget it. I reckon that’s my good luck charm.


-Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?

Walking with Ray and Delilah my two kelpies. Playing very bad golf and very stationary tennis. My volley game resembles an oil rig in heavy seas.


-What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish?

Grilled seafood and coleslaw


-Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?

In year ten I told my Guidance Officer I wanted to be a Sea Monkey Rancher. Got a week’s detention. I have no idea. But I have always been very fond of butchers and butcher shops, they seem such happy places.


-Favourite book from your childhood?

Wind in the Willows and Spike Milligan’s Adolph Hitler My part in His Downfall.


-Which jellybean do you eat first, and which do you leave until last?

Red First Black last


-Have you done anything special with any of your advances?

Have bought some spanking bottles of gargle water. Bourbon and Irish Whisky.


-Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of writing inspiration? (ie at kitchen sink/on the ride-on mower, chained to my desk at 3am with a deadline looming…)

Um, anywhere really, wherever your mind’s eye can take you. These days you write almost anyplace. But I have a den and I like writing there.


-You’re snowed in on the side of Mount Hotham with access to only one novel and one electronic device. Which do you choose?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and my laptop and dongle.


-What’s on your Christmas list this year?

To be with people I love, remember people I have loved. To eat what I want, raise a glass to the world, to enjoy the food coma and to remember to look to the sky .


-Favourite Aussie novel for 2020?

Favel Perrett’s There Was Still Love.


-Best one-line sentence from one of your book reviews?

He grew up in Queensland... and apparently has never left.


Where can people find you online?

I have no idea.


Christmas Tales by William McInnes, published by Hachette Australia, is available from your favourite bookshop – in-store or online – or as an audiobook, read by William himself.


'Tis the season to be jolly! One of Australia's favourite storytellers is back with a collection of stories about everyone's favourite family holiday.

I can't help it if I'm a boring conservative dag, but I love Christmas, always have and hopefully always will. Whatever brand of faith you fly under, even if you proclaim you don't have one, Christmas is a time of generosity, good citizenship and decency.

It's the holiday where shopping centres become a sea of dazed shoppers bearing checklists as long as your arm, lunch is a neverending buffet of prawns and ham and your electricity bill is doubly struck by having to run the fan all day and keep those decorative lights blinking through the night.

William McInnes, bestselling author of FATHERHOOD, WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA, and A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY tackles the silly season in a way only he can - telling stories brimming with good humour and nostalgia, to remind us what Christmas is all about: family.

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**EDITED - CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED***


Win a copy of Christmas Tales in my flash giveaway, thanks to Hachette. This is a quick turn-around contest, opening Saturday December 5, closing 8pm Sunday December 6, read the interview and then enter here. Australian entries and newsletter subscribers only please. Not yet signed up? Too easy, just check the box on your entry form.

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