When Carla James flies home for the holidays at her family’s cozy Canadian cabin, she has no idea what—or who—awaits. But after five years serving at her beloved Mexican orphanage, it’s time to work through forgiveness, face her fears, and reclaim Christmas. Up-and-coming chef, Rhys Templeton, still regrets leaving a heartbroken Carla in the past and is desperate to confess his truth and make amends. But her own shocking revelation has the potential to either send him spiraling back to his destructive lifestyle or into Carla’s arms.
However, someone else is privy to Carla’s chilling secret and they’re out there watching. Waiting. Wanting. Time is running out like melting snowflakes. And now, if Carla ever wants to see another Christmas, she needs all the grace and grit she can muster to trust the one who deserted her and the One who promised never to leave.
Tell us how your characters celebrate the holidays
For the past 5 years, Carla James has worked at an orphanage in Mexico, and she has chosen to spend the Christmas holidays there with the children. Celebrating together on the beach had been fun—but this year she is coming home to Canada for a white Christmas at the family cabin. Snow shoeing on her beloved mountains is on the agenda—as well as snuggling up by the fire with some wonderful books!
Rhys had a tough childhood in Seattle, but often spent Christmas with his kind uncle, who never failed to make the celebrations special at his swanky downtown apartment. Now as a chef, the holidays for Rhys are usually spent working—but this year he is anxiously anticipating a pre-Christmas trip to meet up with Carla in snowy Hollybrook. Regardless, good food is always a major element of the holiday celebrations for Rhys.
Does your hero have a favorite Christmas carol or movie? Does your heroine?
I would say Rhys’s favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life with its powerful storyline of second chances… and perhaps Clarence reminds him of his own French “guardian angel”!
Carla would choose White Christmas with all the romance, nostalgia, music, and memories of her white Christmases growing up.
What is the theme of this book? If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series?
The Christmas Cabin is a spin-off from my “Flight to Freedom” series of Christian romantic suspense novels. It’s a stand-alone novella, but follows on from the last book, The Orphan Beach. The theme of The Christmas Cabin is one of forgiveness in a story of second chances, and the Bible verse that threads throughout is Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Why do you write this genre? What inspired this story? Do you write any other genres?
I enjoyed reading Christian romantic suspense—I’m drawn to the nail-biting, page-turning aspect of a gripping storyline, plus I am a romantic at heart, and love a book where I can be encouraged or stretched in my faith. So I thought it would be a challenging exercise to try writing what I loved to read. And it is! I was already writing in several genres, including Christian teen fiction, middle-grade fiction, devotionals, and non-fiction marriage—but Christian romantic suspense is so much fun to write!
The inspiration for The Christmas Cabin came while snow shoeing with my husband in the local mountains (which is where this novella is set) and coming across a darling cabin in the middle of nowhere, where people can rest and warm up for a while. I had already been thinking about Carla James, who was mentioned briefly in the last novel, and decided to bring her home to Canada for Christmas, where she would need to face her fears and make some new memories to erase the past. Of course, the plot took on a life of its own once I got started…
Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Oh goodness, as a certified writing coach and someone who has been writing for a considerable chunk of time, I have heard so much great advice over the years!
For newbies, I would say to write regularly. Even if it’s in the tiny cracks of time before the kids wake up or during your lunch break—don’t wait for a magical “full writing day” to happen! It’s amazing what you can accomplish by finding a writing rhythm and being consistent.
And one of my favorite quotes for seasoned writers is by Henry David Thoreau, who said, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” For me, it’s a reminder that I need to pay attention to what is going on around me, to listen and learn, even when I’m tempted to hole up in my home office with my laptop and my words!
What is your favorite Christmas tradition and/or memory?
I adore Christmas Eve with the anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth and the excitement of gathering with loved ones for a few days. Many years ago, my husband and I created a tradition with our (now grown) kids where we would come home from the Christmas Eve church service, and he would read the Christmas story from the Bible while we all sat around the tree. Everyone then opened one gift (pajamas—surprise, surprise!), and we would watch a Christmas movie snuggled together in our new sleepwear, snacking on scrumptious appetizers and goodies until way too late. We still manage to recreate a version of this memory, and it’s so precious to me!
Finally! Answer for either yourself or your characters: Real Christmas tree? Or fake? For me, it’s fake! When we emigrated from the UK to Canada, we wanted the full-on authentic real Christmas tree experience… but after 10 Christmases and thousands of stray pine needles, the novelty wore off and we crossed over to the other side!