Thursday, December 15, 2011

Father Christmas and More

If you read Finding Father Christmas when it first came out in 2009 you had to wait a whole year for the sequel, Engaging Father Christmas. Now you can read both of these short, sweet novellas back to back and soak up the joy of a snowy Christmas in England.

Miranda Carson grew up in hotel rooms and longs for family. In Finding Father Christmas she follows the clues on the back of a photograph to London in search of her biological father. But when she finds his family, one she longs to be a part of, will she dare to reveal the relationship?

In Engaging Father Christmas Miranda returns to Carlton Heath, hoping for a Christmas diamond and a permanent home, but a slip of the tongue in the wrong place exposes the family to unwanted publicity about the past. Both of these books are warm and cozy. There isn't a lot of conflict, but the author knows how to make the reader feel the character's joy, and what can be more fun than a snowy English village at Christmastime?

LeAnne Hardy: I have met author Robin Jones Gunn at a couple Litt-World conferences, and she has agreed to be with us today and answer a few questions. Robin, you started in teen fiction with the Christy Miller series and all its sequels that have inspired teens to value purity and wait for God’s forever partner. As your readers grew up, you moved into quiet romance with the Glenbrooke series. But still the setting was the United States. What inspired you to write the Sisterchicks books, set all over the world? 

Robin Jones Gunn: The first Sisterchicks® novel, “Sisterchicks on the Loose!” was loosely based (pun intended) on a trip my Sisterchick, Donna, and I took to Finland almost 20 years ago. A publisher in Helsinki had translated the Christy Miller novels into Finnish and I was invited to go to Finland and speak in the public high schools and in some church youth groups. Donna and I had such a mad cap adventure when we were there it always seemed like a story waiting to be embellished and turned into a novel. So when the opportunity presented itself in my writing schedule, that’s exactly what I did. “Sisterchicks on the Loose!” was met with such a strong response from readers that the publisher asked if I would like to write more in the collection and focus on different places in the world. What followed was “Sisterchicks Do the Hula!”, set in Hawaii and “Sisterchicks in Sombreros!” set in Mexico. I’d already been both those places. The publisher then gave me a dream come true opportunity and provided me with a travel budget so that I could visit more amazing locations and write five more novels. In many ways it was a grand blessing from the Lord. He so graciously granted me the desire of my heart because ever since I was a child I longed to travel all around the world.

LH: So you have visited all these places. Which would you most like to go back to and why? 

RJG: Yes, I visited all the locations in the Sisterchicks books as well as the location of other destination novels I’ve written over the past few years. Here’s the list: Finland, Hawaii, Mexico, Australia/New Zealand, Venice, Paris, England, the Netherlands, Canary Islands, Brazil, Kenya and Bulgaria. I’d love to go back to any of the above places any time. I loved the variety of God’s creation in each locale. More importantly, I have good friends in many of the places mentioned and that would be the primary reason why I’d love to go back. Don’t you think it’s like a taste of heaven to be with friends from different cultures and have a chance to worship together?

Hippo tracks by Lake Naivasha
LH: Definitely! I know you have been to Africa because we were together at Litt-World in Kenya. Any plans to set a book there? 

RJG: Yes! As a matter of fact, the next Katie Weldon novel, “Finally and Forever” is set in Kenya. It’s the 4th book in the popular series for Upper Teens and it comes out in May, 2012. I was able to draw upon a lot of the experiences we had when we were there, LeAnne. I even included a bus trip to Lake Naivasha in the Rift Valley!

LH: We had a lovely outing that day--lots of informal time to interact with writers from other cultures as well as enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Your teen books and the Glenbrooke series are basically romances. Sisterchicks are not. Why did you decide to take a different approach here? 

RJG: I went on a hunt many years ago for novels that focused on the friendships between women and all the ways that women support each other in difficult times. My father had a stroke and I was making regular trips from Portland, Oregon to southern California during that season. What I longed to read on the flight was a story about a friend helping another friend as she found herself entering midlife. I also wanted books that would make me laugh. I needed to read something that would lighten my spirit. When I wrote the first Sisterchicks novel it turned out to be just the sort of story I’d been looking for. That’s when I realized how therapeutic it was for me to write to my peers as I was rolling into midlife. I wasn’t the only woman who needed these sorts of stories about friendship, changes and courage. The bonus with each book was that they were set in amazing places all over God’s green earth.

LH: Your romances challenge girls and young women to purity. What do you hope women take away from Sisterchicks?

RJG: That God is a whole lot bigger and more amazing than you thought He was. And He has not yet fulfilled all the dreams He had when He created you. Adventures ahead!

LH: The Father Christmas books are not part of the Sisterchicks series, but neither are they really romances. What do you hope readers will take from them besides the sheer exuberance of your writing?

RJG: The two Father Christmas novellas are set in England and as a result the stories naturally took on a certain sort of charm and coziness, which we all love during the Christmas season. As I was writing those two stories I was journaling a lot about “belonging” and finding your place in this world. Miranda was a character who needed to be found. She needed her place on this spinning planet, and she needed to know she was wanted. It was a comforting sort of experience writing about Miranda and how she was enfolded into a family she never knew she was part of. And actually, the second novella, “Engaging Father Christmas” could certainly be considered a romance. Even the title gives a hint of what happens to Miranda in that story.

LH: Hmm. I wonder if anyone can guess.... Thank you for being with us today, Robin. I know readers will want to check out the full range of your titles this Christmas.


LeAnne Hardy loves encouraging non-Western writers like this Kenyan Litt-world participant. LeAnne's fiction for young people reflects the six countries on four continents in which she has lived.  Find out more at .

1 comment:

  1. Love that you wrote books that didn't fall neatly into any one category and still managed to get them published. Congratulations.