Welcome back, Kathi. I just love Christmas stories. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
I knew I wanted to do a Christmas book—the first of what would become an annual event that my publisher and I were discussing—and I also knew that despite the lighter tone required in a Christmas book (as opposed to the darker themes of the persecuted Church and human trafficking, which I’ve been writing about), I had to stick to my “brand” as closely as possible: hence, an “issues-related” Christmas novel, dealing with the issues related to illegal immigration.
If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
I always struggle with this because I have so many “favorites,” but if I have to narrow it down I guess I’d have to go with Patti Lacy, Susan Meissner, Jeanette Windle, Mary DeMuth, Athol Dickson, and Jim Rubart. All are different and unique, and all are people I greatly admire, and I also appreciate that their fiction is more than just entertainment. I like to come away from my reads feeling challenged at some point, and these authors always deliver.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Of course I’d have to invite my sister-in-law Kacy Barnett-Gramckow because I love her Genesis trilogy. Also, Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Eugenia Price, Kay Marshall Strom, Sarah Sundin, and Laurie Alice Eakes. Though I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, these ladies all write about eras I find fascinating, so I usually try to make time to read their latest offerings.
Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Oh, if they only knew! People are surprised when I tell them I don’t get contracts for every proposal my agent sends out, but it’s true. However, I must sheepishly admit that my greatest problem right now is far too many contracts and not enough time to write! I also do a little editing and collaborative writing on the side, plus travel/speak/teach, so life is crazy-busy!
Tell us about the featured book.
During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to
agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die.
Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety.
Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a
way to honor her promise to her beloved husband. America
Living on one of the smaller spreads along the
Two widows—one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge—must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.
Sounds interesting. Please give us the first page of the book.
Isabella shivered, her teeth chattering as she huddled against the frigid night air, doing her best to burrow her backside into Francisco’s embrace. How could her esposo sleep in such harsh conditions? She and her husband had not eaten in nearly three days, they were almost out of water, and now she felt as if they would surely freeze to death before morning. And yet his even breathing, blowing warm against the back of her neck, assured her that her beloved had indeed escaped their dilemma for at least a few hours.
Isabella wished she could do the same. During the daylight hours, when her feet burned with each tortuous step, she imagined that she could fall asleep in an instant if given half the chance. But when the desert sun, still hot in mid-autumn, finally sank below the flat, dismal horizon and the night winds blew mercilessly upon them, sleep eluded her. True, Francisco did everything he could to protect her from the elements, even using his body to shield her as they sought meager shelter under a small rock overhang or behind a sand dune, but it was never enough. They were going to die; she was sure of it. She and her husband of eleven months would perish in the middle of the
only the scavengers to dispose of their remains. Arizona
A slight flutter in her stomach reminded her that death would come to three of them, not just two. The baby that had been growing in her stomach for seven months and that less than a week earlier had kicked with strength and determination now grew weaker by the day.
Perhaps it is best, she told herself. It was a foolish dream to think we could escape the violence and poverty of our home country and find a new life here, north of the border. My abuelo meant well, but we should never have listened to him…should never have taken his money and given it to the coyote….
The ominous glare of the coyote, the man who had promised to take them safely to the
but who instead had
stolen their money and left them to die in the desert, danced through her
memory, but she pushed it aside. Instead she focused on the beloved face of her
grandfather, her abuelo, and fought
the hot tears that stung her eyes as she wished yet again that she and
Francisco were back in Don Alfredo’s casita,
sharing a simple meal of tortillas
and frijoles with the
leathery-skinned old man Isabella had adored since she was a tiny girl. United States
Despite her discomfort, the memory of her abuelo’s face brought a smile to her lips, as she snuggled closer into her esposo’s embrace. But then another memory, the horror of what had driven Don Alfredo to the point of pleading with them to flee across the border, wiped away her smile and once again brought tears to Isabella’s weary eyes.
Sounds like a heart wrenching story. I can't wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Kathi, for sharing your book with us.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
A Christmas Journey Home: Miracle in the Manger
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