Morgan Tarpley Smith has a passion for split time fiction. She works as a newspaper reporter and lives in Louisiana with her husband and son. Betsy St. Amant lives and writes in Louisiana. She has a heart for teens and enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories. Lenora Worth is a NY Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling writer who calls Florida home.
In this interview, Morgan, Betsy and Lenora answer questions about their new Christmas collection, A Louisiana Christmas To Remember.
FF: This book is set at Christmastime, what is you favorite tradition about this special time of year.
Morgan: I love decorating the tree and sharing memories about all the special ornaments.
Betsy: I enjoy driving around with my family, drinking Starbucks hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights.
Lenora: I love baking cookies and preparing gumbo, as well as listening to Christmas songs.
FF: How did this novella collection come together?
Morgan: The idea for this collection began with a 2021 social media post. An avid reader of Christian fiction was compiling a list of Christmas books set in all 50 U.S. states and hadn’t listed one for Louisiana. I was tagged in the post, but I couldn’t think of a single title. Then, someone commented, “why don’t you write one,” and my mind was whirling!
Not long afterward, Lenora and Betsy were graciously on board, and the characters of Mattie, Jolene, and Adale drifted into our lives like a Christmas snow. We had the best time planning and writing these stories and adding to our Pinterest boards too.
FF: What was the inspiration behind the stories?
Lenora: For me, I just followed Morgan and Betsy’s lead. I love Louisiana even though I live in Florida now. I loved the Southern style of this book and the small-town theme.
FF: What was the experience like to work with co-authors to write interconnected novellas instead of standalones? Have you written in this way before?
Betsy: I’ve never written this way and it was a lot of fun—and a lot of work! There was a lot to coordinate, and Morgan was great with keeping us on task with maps and visual aids so we could keep consistency. The novella sets I’ve done before were loosely connected to the same town, but never to the same family in a continuation. But our never-ending Facebook Messenger chain of back and forth was pretty hilarious!
Lenora: I’ve done several novellas with others, but this one was a joy and so much fun. These characters came to life for us because we worked hard to make them real.
FF: Why did you set this book in Louisiana?
Morgan: Lenora, Betsy, and I are proud Louisiana girls, who wanted to bring some of the warmth, humor, and spirit of our home state’s Southern culture to the page. Our storis are set in the fictional town of Moreau, which is loosely based on the lovely city of Natchitoches, the oldest European settlement in Louisiana.
Natchitoches was founded by a French explorer in 1714, and in the late 1700s, my ancestors were actually married there. I love visiting this charming place adored by tourists for its gorgeous scenery, delicious food, and friendly people.
It’s also known for being the setting of the hit 1989 film, Steel Magnolias, and for dazzling Christmas lights displays and decorations, which have drawn the masses each year for the Festival of Lights since 1927.
FF: What are some universal themes for your stories? How did they come about?
Morgan: Restoration is a theme that resonates through all three stories in more ways than one. One of the central focuses of our book is the physical restoration of a historic chapel that was built by our characters’ ancestors centuries before and damaged during a hurricane. Our main characters, Mattie, Jolene and Adale, also have their own journeys of restoration as they are forced to face the past during this Christmas season.
Betsy: Second chances are also a big theme of our entire set. Second chances not only in romance, but in friendships, family relationships, and with the town in general.
FF: What do you love most about your character?
Betsy: I love that Jolene puts on a bit of a tough shell but underneath, is vulnerable and in need of healing. I also really like how she’s artistic and “marches to her own drum” in what she wants and how she dresses.
Morgan: What stands out to me the most about Mattie is her loyalty to her family and friends and how much she cares for those in her life and anyone she meets really. She is fiercely loyal and reliable and works hard to help others.
Lenora: I loved writing the older characters because, well, I’m old. I can relate.
FF: Do you have a favorite minor character? If yes, why are they your favorite?
Morgan: Hands down, it’s Granny Eloise for all of us. She tried (and sometimes succeeded) stealing every scene she was in. She is definitely a strong Southern woman.
Betsy: Definitely Granny! She was so much fun to write.
Lenora: Yes, Granny.
FF: What is one thing you hope readers take away from the stories?
Betsy: I hope readers finish this novella set with a sigh of contentment, a new appreciation for Louisiana culture, and a hankerin’ for a big bowl of gumbo!
Lenora: That family matters, and small towns can blend a whole community, and faith will always guide our decisions.
A Louisiana Christmas To Remember
Three Heartwarming, Interconnected Stories of Faith, Love, and Restoration
Morgan Tarpley Smith, Betsy St. Amant, & Lenora Worth
Genres: Romance, Christmas Romance
Release Date: September 12, 2023
Three heartwarming, interconnected stories of faith, love, and restoration, brought to you by three Louisiana-native authors. Will a rare snowy Louisiana Christmas bring restoration and hope to the hometown and hearts of three women from the town’s founding family?
In A Louisiana Snow by Morgan Tarpley Smith, meet Mattie: A passionate visionary who learns to forgive and finds love in unexpected places…
In Restoring Christmas by Betsy St. Amant, meet Jolene: An artist and prodigal daughter who discovers love exists in the very place she once called home…
In A Christmas Reunion by Lenora Worth, meet Adale: A beautiful widow who finally dares to love again…
And don’t forget Granny, whose feisty spirit, blunt dialogue, and quirky ways play an important and endearing role.
Buy A Louisiana Christmas To Remember from the FF Store HERE!
Buy A Louisiana Christmas To Remember from Amazon HERE!