Contemporary fiction is probably my favorite thing to read. I particularly enjoy realistic stories about the “normal” struggles of everyday life. Take a few well developed characters (people I can relate to) and an interesting setting, add some challenges, and I’m hooked.
2. Was there or is there a special dog in your life that spurred the idea for The Christmas Dog?
Long ago, when our boys were preschool age, we were asked to doggy-sit by an international college student we’d befriended. She said it would only be for a week, but we ended up with that dog for sixteen years. She’d rescued the scruffy little mutt from the streets and named him Prince. And although he looked nothing like a “prince” he turned out to be A Prince Among Dogs (and actually has a book named after him). He was probably the inspiration for the dog in the book.
3. Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition that you can share?
My favorite tradition is simply being with family and friends. Does it get any better than that? But because my husband’s birthday is also on Christmas Day, and because he got tired of having turkey for his birthday every year, I asked him what he’d prefer. “Lasagna,” he proclaimed. So for the last fifteen years, we’ve had lasagna on Christmas Day and everyone seems to enjoy it more than turkey.
4. Do you have a Christmas memory that stands out as extra-special?
The Christmas of 1964, Oregon experienced a major flood which closed schools and roads and made the holidays miserable for a lot of people. Because my mother was single, the need of an extended family (particularly during the holidays) was extreme. But my sister and I talked our mom into making the three hour trek to our grandparents, where we actually drove through a flooded river (watching a VW bug floating away) to get there. Then, once we were there, my grandfather told us that due to the flood we couldn’t go to the woods to get the usual tree. Naturally, this was a huge disappointment. But with a twinkle in his eyes, Grandpa took us out to the front yard where he proceeded to chop down one of his own beautiful holly trees. Decorating the tree was a prickly affair that year, but the end results were stunning. Worried that he’d be sorry about chopping down his tree, I later asked him about the sacrificed holly tree and he informed me that the city had told him to remove the holly trees from the parking strip because they obstructed the view for traffic.
5. Do you have a favorite Christmas story or book that has particularly touched your heart?
I’ve always been an O. Henry fan and The Gift of the Magi is a poignant Christmas tale that I’ve loved for years. In fact, it was the inspiration of one of my own Christmas novellas (All I Have to Give). O. Henry (a pseudonym) had some interesting life challenges (including doing some prison time) which might explain his unique ability to write so realistically and movingly about human behavior and problems—and yet his stories were always laced with hope.
6. Do your story characters remind you of someone you know in real life?
My characters are usually composites of real people mixed in with my imagination, and sometimes I include a bit of myself in a protagonist. In the Christmas Dog, there are bits and pieces of several people. Interestingly enough, I sometimes use very specific characteristics of friends or relatives…and then I get a little worried when the book releases, thinking that someone is going to recognize a character as themselves and possibly be offended. Ironically, this hasn’t happened. Although some friends/family have assumed a character was them when, in fact, it wasn’t. Maybe it has to do with how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others.
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Read my review of Melody’s newest Christmas novel: The Christmas Dog.