If the Christmas season is the Season of Hope, can a love blossom between a prickly city girl and the naive young pastor who took over their struggling neighborhood’s underfunded mission?
Independent, but lonely, Claudia runs her stepfather’s bodega and cares for her beloved half-sisters. she believes that’s more than enough responsibility for her without the attentions of Pastor Nick, whom she considers to be an out-of-touch country boy.
But that snowy December, a series of violent crimes brings Nick and Claudia together to defend her family and home. Perhaps they will experience a Christmas love that changes both their lives.
Tell us how your characters celebrate the holidays– Nick and Claudia celebrate Christmas together with his spunky grandmother and her younger half-sisters. After he preaches the Christmas Eve service, they all gather for a late supper of Mexican dishes and cookies baked by the mission’s housekeeper and guardian angel Maria. On Christmas morning, they carol for shut-in members of Nick’s congregation and deliver cookies, too.
Does you hero have a favorite Christmas carol or movie? Does your heroine? After all they’ve been through, Nick loves hearing anything that Claudia sings at the mission’s Christmas Eve service. They share a fondness for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life because of its theme of community members supporting each other, just as people do in their neighborhood of Philadelphia.
What is the theme of this book? Thematically, I was interested in writing not only a love story between Nick and Claudia, but also how community supports the couple toward love. Community is both a secular and a Christian concern, and I wanted to write about love in the context of community.
If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series? I don’t anticipate it becoming a series, but Claudia does have two younger sisters, and I’m dying to know what they get up to in a few years, so….
Why do you write this genre? I wrote holiday-romance-with-mystery because it is a genre which brings innocent pleasure to readers, a Christmas cookie of a genre. In the case of Season of Hope, I think of the novella as a little respite in the mad rush of holiday preparations that center so many woman’s lives.
What inspired this story? I volunteered cooking dinners at a Salvation Army family shelter in an urban neighborhood. I also taught high school students from that area. As I got to know the neighborhood, I knew I wanted to give it the same special Christmas romance that a pristine New England village gets. I imagined Nick trying to hang the wreath on the window grate by the mission’s door, and Claudia watching skeptically from her store window Once I saw the two of them and their world, the rest was just details.
Do you write any other genres? I am a medieval lit nerd, so there’s no surprise in my writing high fantasy, which is the gateway to writing all sorts of speculative fiction. Right now I am working on a huge historical piece with fantasy elements.
Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors? Join a critique group. Keep attending and critiquing others’ work, even when you don’t have the heart to keep writing yourself. When I falter, my group brings me back to writing, and their honest criticism makes me a better author.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition and/or memory? Another aspect of that medieval lit nerd is that I love really old carols and old Christian poetry, even the weird stuff like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. My newest tradition has been fasting from social media throughout Advent and Lent. I started three years ago and find that social media fasts keep my focus on Jesus a little clearer.
Finally! Real Christmas tree? Or fake? Like most financially-strapped missions, Nick and Claudia have a terrible fake tree that lives in the mission attic most of the year. It keeps company with a zillion old hymnals and some brass altarware that definitely should be polished. They hope that maybe next year, someone will donate a real tree.
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