What inspired you to write Christmas Bells?
I wanted to strip the “excesses” from the holiday, and find out what it would be like if everything screeched to a halt, and folks had to focus on the bare minimum instead of the busy-ness. At first, the snowstorm seems like the worst thing that could possibly happen, but when the main character, Grace, gets past the shopping, fancy meals, and even the games and “fun,” she realizes what really matters is simple and pure; relationships with others, and on Jesus’ birth. The peace of the season reigned.
What else will readers find in Christmas Bells?
I sprinkle in humor, faith, then mix in some unexpected, as well as poignant, scenes. Oh, and lots of cooking. Grace is a baker, and she’s always making muffins.
While we’re on that popular subject, between my books and my website, I share many yummy recipes and links to other writers whose cooking I admire. One of my favorite recent discoveries is Moonshine Butterscotch Pecan Pie, from Joanne Bischof, who writes the Cadence of Grace series set in Appalachia. (If you’re opposed to the “likker,” you can leave that out.)
Is there a real Cherryvale?
Only in my head! Seriously, I believe there is a little of “the ‘Vale” in all of us. Cherryvale is a little gentler, a little kinder, and perhaps a bit more quirky than our own community. It’s a place where humans are real, but the problems are real. I believe in telling stories that readers can relate to, enjoy a laugh or two, and walk with someone through a personal journey of discovery. Each book has a theme. In Christmas Bells, putting others’ interests over one’s own comfort is the underlying theme.
I get emails from readers who say they linger in Cherryvale and never want to leave. That encourages me to keep writing more stories about the little town.
This is just one of the books in the Seasons of Cherryvale, what are the others? Do they need to be read in order?
The books can be read in any order without confusion. Fresh Start Summer was the first one I wrote. When a movie unit arrives in Cherryvale, the townies argue over whether or not it’s a good idea to allow their “evil” Hollywood influence. That one’s about how prejudice can swing both ways.
In Grace & Maggie Across the Pond, the main characters travel to England where they end up helping out a friend who needs an extreme makeover for herself, and her entire outlook on life changes. The theme in that one is starting over despite hardship.
In Autumn Changes, we return to Cherryvale for some chaos surrounding the Autumn Festival, and Hearts Unlocked is a sweet Thanksgiving romance novella.
Cherryvale has an interesting feature you call The CherryPath. How did you come up with the idea for The Path?
I wondered what it would like to live in an old fashioned community where people actually knew their neighbors. The CherryPath is an artery that loops through town, stitching lives together. Where people wave to each other from squeaky porch swings through swarms of fireflies while sipping large quantities of tangy-sweet lemonade. Well, you get the picture; Norman Rockwell meets modern suburbia.
When I added the challenge of living with humans “stitched together”, a colorful quilt of characters, the roller coaster rides began! I recently had an illustrator paint an aerial view of Cherryvale, and you can see The Path winding around the locations described in the books. It’s been lots of fun sharing that on my website.
Any parting words?
Bev: Thanks for having me, and I hope you and your readers have a blessed, and very Merry Christmas. I’d love to connect with everyone on my website, blog, and other social spots, and while you’re there, check out what Grace is cooking up next!