Anita ... thanks for being here. What inspired you to incorporate Jim Crow laws and segregation into your book?
Even though A Merry Little Christmas is really a love story, I felt it needed some additional conflict, and some of the racial struggles of the 60s seemed to be the right choice for this particular plot. I grew up in the 60s, and I was always interested in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. In some ways I feel I’ve waited my whole life to write this book. It came easily to me in that it’s been percolating in my imagination for a long time, but it was also hard to write because I had to consider more deeply the injustices of that era. Even though it sounds like a cliché, A Merry Little Christmas truly was the book of my heart.
I did. While the small towns in the book are totally fictitious I did grow up on a wheat, cattle, pig, and chicken farm in Western Oklahoma, and it was pretty much identical to the one in the novel. If the farm scenes seem realistic it’s because I got to know farm life quite well before I moved off to college at eighteen.
Franny and Charlie come from very different backgrounds, but are both looking for something very different from the way they've grown up. Do you think as humans, we all just have a "grass is always greener on the other side" mentality?
Yes, that is a human frailty that is easy to succumb to, and I’ve been guilty of it as well. But God is good about reminding me that he’s placed me on my own unique life-road, and it may have little to do with anyone else’s journey. Besides, in many cases when we get a closer look at someone else’s “lush green grass” it usually turns out to be turf.
Do you think that sometimes we don't pray for what we want because we are afraid of getting what we pray for?
Was there a reason you added the themes of Christmas and music to the story?
My editor asked me to add those elements, and it was a blessing, since Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love music. Also, female readers in general love novels that are set during the holidays, and I’m hoping the music adds a cozy feel to the overall Christmas theme.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
I love to have my gal friends over for brunch around Christmastime. I have been collecting tea dishes for many years, and so when I do a brunch, I go all out. Women are usually in a service mode most of their lives so when they come to my house I want them to feel wonderfully pampered. And by the time they leave, I hope their hearts are a little merrier and they feel we’ve celebrated Christmas well!
Franny is like me in some ways, but she has a lot more courage than I have and more laughter in her heart. So, really, I want to be Franny when I grow up.
Does the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" have a special significance to you?
You have written everything from romance to suspense/thrillers to nonfiction. What is your favorite genre to write?
Thanks, Anita, for sharing your heart in this novel. I could see it there between the lines and it was a precious story you shared with us! And now it's my turn ... I LOVED THIS BOOK! It is everything EVERYTHING a Christmas story should be about. On so many levels.
Characters: From the first word, I was drawn in to Frannie. I loved the way she moved, thought, interacted with her pigs, summed up Charlie with a glance, was honest ... provoked conviction ... harbored tender memories ... gawsh! Loved her. Then there was Charlie. A yummy version of a 1960's rich boy-farmer-wanna-be. What I loved about Charlie is he is NOT the cliche hero. He was sentimental, driven but with hesitation, defeated but determined, nervous and tentative but willing to take risks.
Setting: I have never read a book based in the 1960's. It's not an era that's explored frequently -- at least in the books I read. But Anita did such a fantastic job of drawing me in. I even fell in love with Frannie's pigs. The era totally fit a warm Christmas story.
Plot: This isn't a suspenseful plot driven story, but it is a gingerbread spiced romance, tipped with a layer of lemon pudding and a side of orange-pekoe tea. Perfect for reading by the fireplace, with the smell of pumpkin and nutmeg tickling your senses. There are topics explored, issues and tribulations unique to the 1960's, and overall a story of acceptance, love, and God's grace.
This is a Christmas novel to touch the heart, bring to mind what is truly important during this Christmas season, and a wonderful gift for the reader in your life.
And to celebrate this great read, Anita is gracing us with THREE COPIES to giveaway! Any comments you've left this week have already gained you an entry. Comment here for another chance to win! Winners will be announced on Monday 11/5 (sorry, only US citizens) so you have all weekend to spread the word -- have your friends leave comments too and if they list you as a reference, you'll gain an extra entry! Don't miss out!