Welcome, dear friends, to my blog. I’m thrilled to interview you together. How did your story for the collection come about?
Cara: I’ve always loved Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, and it was perfect that the song became an instant hit in 1942, the year of my novella. I knew I wanted the heroine to work at the local candy store/soda fountain, and Sarah found out the puzzle company had been in business since long before WWII. But I needed a reason for my hero to work there and not in the war effort. So that got my thoughts spinning to a displaced farmer who suffered an illness as a child that keeps him out of the service. But what made him leave the farm? That legal issue became the pivot the story turned on.
Sarah: This story idea flew together so quickly that it’s hard to track. A sentimental Christmas song came on the radio, and it made me cry, and I hated that it made me cry. So being a writer, I analyzed why the song had such an emotional impact. A child in need…And suddenly little Linnie Kessler is looking in the department store window, hoping to see her daddy, her daddy who was killed in the war. Instead she sees Lt. Pete Turner, a fighter pilot running on empty. When Pete takes Linnie home, he’s captivated by the child’s widowed mother—who is not happy to see Pete. Her former bully.
What are you reading right now?
Tricia: I just finished The Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers. It reminded me how much I adore her writing so I started A Voice in the Wind. It’s been about fifteen years since I read Francine’s Mark of the Lion series and I’m enjoying it!
Cara: Currently I’m reading The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate and In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin…oh, and some really exciting statistics and project management textbooks.
What other books have you had published?
Sarah: This is my first novella, so it was a lot of fun! I have six novels published, all set in World War II. My most recent release is In Perfect Time.
Tricia: I’ve published a bit of everything. I have forty-five books published. Most of those are historical fiction novels, but I’ve also written many Amish novels. I’ve also written parenting and marriage books, and books for teens. So you can say a bit of everything. This fall I also have a novella releasing in the Amish collection An Amish Second Christmas.
Cara: This is my 19th book, so I’m somewhere betwixt and between Sarah and Tricia. One of those was the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. The rest have been novels. A mix of WWII historical romances and contemporary romantic mysteries. Readers can learn more about my books and read first chapters at www.caraputman.com.
What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Sarah: The hardest part was not “owning” all the characters. Both Abigail (Cara’s heroine) and Merry (Tricia’s heroine) appear in my story. It felt strange writing about Abigail and Merry—I wanted to capture them as Cara and Tricia had written them. We had a lot of email conversations along the lines of “What would Abigail be doing now?” “Would Pete really say that?” or “What is Merry feeling at this time?”
Cara: The coordination was a great challenge. Fortunately, Sarah is the spreadsheet queen, so she kept us on track. This is my third collection like this, and I love the collaborative aspects of working on collections.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Sarah: These ladies are high-energy idea generators. I’m a sloth, and I get one good story idea a year. Listening to them brainstorm taught me good lessons about letting ideas flow and change and shift directions.
Tricia: I was SO impressed by both of them. Sarah is so organized, and Cara is so fun and passionate. Honestly I’d work with them all the time if I could. It truly was a great team!
Cara: I’ve long admired Sarah and Tricia, so when I decided I wanted to explore writing a WWII Christmas collection, I knew I wanted to do it with them. I was THRILLED when they said yes. It was such fun to work together.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sarah: Linnie’s name came attached to her—I have no idea where it came from! For Pete and Grace, I looked at names popular in the era. Pete has the strong, no-nonsense quality, and Grace has such quiet beauty—and ironically my heroine needs to learn to extend grace. Also, Grace was my grandmother’s name. She passed away in March, long after I’d finished this story, but it was fitting to dedicate this novella to her.
Tricia: I chose Meredith because I wanted to use the Christmas song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I have a friend who was born on Christmas and her name is Merry, so I thought Merry could be short for Meredith. As for the other characters, I also looked for popular names from that time period. I had fun looking up Dutch names, too!
Cara: Abigail is my oldest’s name, and she wanted a book of her own. I also love the meaning of the name: Fountain of Joy. Abigail has a bit of that personality, though muted by a pain she has to overcome.
What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Sarah: That God alone can fill the empty places in our lives.
Tricia: That God can work all things out for good and our mourning can turn to joy!
Cara: That God will lead us through the pain in our past if we’ll let Him.
Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Sarah: Absolutely! I tell aspiring writers that ACFW is like having a mini-conference in your email inbox every day. The courses are excellent, the loop is a great way to connect, the genre loops are fantastic for research help, and the conference is top-notch!
Tricia: Yes, although I’m not as active as I wish I could be. I highly recommend ACFW to aspiring novelists. It’s an organization filled with amazing people!
Cara: Yes! I’m published because of what I learned at ACFW and the people I’ve met at the conferences. I’ve also been very active on the boards and in other positions since 2006. I love this organization and giving back!
What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Tricia: The best advice I’ve received is to write from the highs and lows of your own life. The emotional themes I’ve written about are similar ones that I’ve experienced. This helps pack emotion into the story.
Cara: To be disciplined. Keep writing even when you don’t feel like it. If you do, you’ll have a book in a year. And be teachable. You can always learn more!
Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, ladies, for sharing this Christmas novella collection with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Where Treetops Glisten - Christianbook.com
Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II - Amazon
Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II - Kindle
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