The author takes us behind the scenes of her latest Christmas book.
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than seven million. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books. She has penned titles in several categories—as well as many Christmas books. Her latest is Christmas in Winter Hill (Revell): Krista Galloway is the new city manager of Winter Hill, Washington. She’s not a fan of Christmas, but the town’s annual Christmas celebration isn’t an optional part of her job. Conner Harris has lived in Winter Hill all his life—and although the city manager doesn’t share his love of the season, Conner has a feeling he can bring her around. In this interview, Melody reveals the inspiration for the story, shares how she gets ready for Christmas, and explains why she writes a Christmas book every year…
Please tell us about Christmas in Winter Hill.
Ready for a fresh start, Krista Galloway accepts a city manager job in a small town. Relocating with an eight-year-old daughter from Arizona to the Northwest in winter comes with its own challenges, including Christmas—and Krista is not a fan. But young Emily is over the moon for all that Winter Hill has to offer. Thanks to the welcome of a friendly family, Krista begins to warm up to the community, but unforeseen troubles threaten to undo everything.
Winter Hill, Washington, has a huge annual Christmas celebration. Have you ever lived in a town that celebrates Christmas in a big way?
I just happen to live in a small town that thoroughly enjoys Christmas. Like Winter Hill, we are located in the mountains and usually have snow. We have our annual Christmas parade and tree- and town-lighting night, as well as things like sleigh rides and winter sports nearby. It really does help to put you in the Christmas spirit.
Do Krista’s feelings about Christmas strike any chords with you personally? Have you ever had a year where it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit?
I’ve had a number of difficult Christmases, but that’s just life—and family. I’ve learned to lower expectations and simplify. The most important thing to me is just being with loved ones and remembering the real reason for the season.
What do you do each year to get ready for the Christmas season?
Every year is a bit different. But going out to the woods to cut down our tree (usually about twelve feet tall) tends to put me in the spirit. We often go with friends and make it an event with hot cocoa to celebrate finding the perfect trees.
Afterward we put up the tree, which I love to leave undecorated at first (just enjoying the pine smell), then add strings of lights a day or two later… and Christmas music… and then I’m pretty much set.
What do you love most about Christmas?
I love that it’s the celebration of the greatest gift of all—that God sent his mercy and grace in the form of his Son. That is why, even in trying times, I can still celebrate.
What was your inspiration for writing Christmas in Winter Hill?
The true inspiration for the town Winter Hill was birthed clear across the country in South Carolina, where a charming town named Rock Hill pulls out all the stops for Christmas. I was the guest there one year to talk about another Christmas book, and all the things Rock Hill does for Christmas are truly amazing.
What motivated you to write books revolving around the Christmas season?
I’d written several children’s Christmas books and felt like grown-ups needed some uplifting stories to get them into the Christmas spirit too—probably even more so than kids!
But because I realized that many people struggle during the holidays, I didn’t want my stories to be all sugary sweetness. I wanted readers to relate to realistic characters and challenges but to ultimately be inspired to embrace their own Christmas festivities with hope and enthusiasm.
My first Christmas novella, Angels in the Snow, came out in 2002. It was a story about an artist who’d lost her husband and son and was trying to get back to her art—and her life.
For some reason, it really seemed to connect with readers. At the time, few publishers were releasing holiday novellas, but because it worked, I’ve done them ever since.
As a child, did you want to be a writer? What is the first thing you remember writing?
I actually was a “writer” as a child. At least I thought I was—because from the earliest ages, I attempted to write and illustrate stories.
The first thing I recall writing– probably because my mom saved it—was a story about a cat named Muzette that loved to play the piano by running up and down the keyboard in the middle of the night.
I typed the story on the old Underwood typewriter that sits on my desk now and illustrated it with pencil drawings, then stapled it together with a foil wrapping-paper cover. I was about 7.
What do you hope readers gain from Christmas in Winter Hill?
As always, I hope they’ll have an enjoyable read, feel uplifted, and be ready to take on Christmas.
Visit Melody Carlson’s author page:
Christmas in Winter Hill
Winter Hill, Washington, is basically Christmasville, USA. Unfortunately, the new city manager, Krista Galloway, is not a fan of Christmas, and the annual town-wide Christmas celebration is not an optional part of her job. She wonders if this move was a mistake for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily. Krista will have to dig deep to find the Christmas spirit she has lost.
Conner Harris and his family have lived in Winter Hill their whole lives, and Christmas is their favorite time of the year. Although the city manager does not share their love of the season, Conner has a feeling he can bring her around. Can he convince the town to see beyond Krista’s hard exterior and glimpse her good heart underneath? Will Krista and Emily finally find a home in Winter Hill?