Author Interview with Richard Wagner

I have partnered with The Children’s Book Review to bring you an author interview with Richard Wagner, author of Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree. Be sure to check out the special giveaway after the interview for your chance to win a signed copy of his book.

What inspired you to write Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree?

When I was a teenager, a small tree was delivered to our home by a business associate of my father’s. However, we had already bought and decorated another tree. We couldn’t find a home for the small tree, so it forlornly sat outside during the entire holidays, alone and forgotten. I felt so sorry for and never forgot that little treeFor all the years since, I have wanted to write a story as a testament to that little tree and what might have been.

What important lessons do you hope readers learn from your book?

This is a story of hope, dreams, and desires in life. However, sometimes life gets in the way and creates roadblocks. The primary lesson is that we all have to persevere through the adversity of life through determination and never giving up. The other great lesson is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that what one person may not find appealing, another may find beautiful. Last, it is a Christmas story during the season of giving and finding joy in others, and both Needles and Emily exemplify that season.

What is one of your favorite Christmas memories from childhood?

When I was five, I was at home with my parents and three-year old sister on Christmas Eve when there was a knock on the door.  My dad opened it and there was Santa. Boy, was I amazed. Santa came in and said he was just checking in before getting back to the North Pole. He asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Then he gave a big Ho-Ho-Ho and was out the door. A minute later, my dad said we should run outside and see if we could see him flying away. We ran outside and I looked up into the sky but didn’t see Santa or his sleigh and reindeer. I ran to the curb and told my dad I saw the red rear lights of a car way down the street, but my dad told me, very convincingly, that Santa would never be in a car!!!!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

We attend a midnight church service on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we have very set traditions as to the way we open presents. It is a production. First, we put on Mitch Miller Christmas music. My wife makes cinnamon rolls and quiche. I open a bottle of champagne. We all then sit down in the living room in our usual positions on the sofas and in chairs, and we proceed to open presents one at a time. Depending on the year, this can take several hours. It is truly our family being together and enjoying the Christmas spirit and the joy of giving.

What advice do you have for kids who are being picked on or are struggling to embrace who they are?

There is not a child in this world that does not have these issues at some point in childhood. It is, essentially, a right of passage. It is the opportunity to prepare for life and adulthood. It is the beginning of dealing with the adversities of life. How we learn to deal with these adversities is important. No parent wants their children to have to go through these types of things, but it is, unfortunately, part of growing up. Teaching your children to tackle issues head-on, not to give up, and to accept who and the way they are and make the most of that, is such an important job of parenting. Needles and Emily are not perfect, but they accept who and what they are, and they persevere with their hopes and dreams.

What is the best part of writing books for children?

Listening to the excitement in their voice as they re-tell the story in their own words!!!


Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree
Written by Richard Wagner
Illustrated by Sydni Kruger
Ages 3+ | 38 Pages
Publisher: Mascot Kids | ISBN-13: 9781645437086

Publisher’s Synopsis: The world is not always a perfect place. Needles, a scraggly little tree, must endure criticism, laughter, and setbacks to realize his goal of becoming a beautiful Christmas tree.

This is a story of dreams, desires, hope, determination, and never giving up. It also offers the observation that what others think is beautiful may not really matter. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder and paired with the spirit of Christmas, maybe we can make the world just a little more perfect!

Barnes and Noble
Author’s Website


Richard Wagner grew up in Southern California. When he was fourteen years old, a business friend of his father’s had a small Christmas tree delivered as a thank-you. Their family already had a large tree decorated in the house. Not being able to find anyone who needed a tree, that small Christmas tree stood outside by itself for the remainder of the Christmas holiday. Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree is a tribute to that little tree and what might have been, but more importantly, to all the beauty, goodness, and hope that Christmas brings to us all. Mr. Wagner continues to reside in Southern California with his wife and two children.

For more information, visit

ENTER HERE for a chance to win a copy of Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree, autographed by Richard Wagner.

One (1) winner receives:

– An autographed copy of Needles, the Forgotten Christmas Tree

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