Being an author can sometimes be a lonely business. While you may run across a lot of people who enjoy reading and maybe even dabble in writing, it can be rare to run across someone who is also an author. (By the way, if you dabble in writing, keep on dabbling!) I was blessed this year to run across Shanna at a friend of a friend's release party. Shanna writes sweet romance, a genre which perfectly fits my craving for hopeless romance without making me skip pages of blush-worthy scenes. Shanna has written a wonderful story, The Christmas Crusade as part of a new boxed set by 19 talented authors called Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 being released today. Shanna offered me an advance copy of her story and I absolutely loved it! The characters were so real and the story so fun. I laughed out loud so many times and had my heart touched. And yes, I cried a little too. She agreed to join us today for an interview so you can find out how to make this charming story part of your holiday collection.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Shanna - I grew up on a farm where my family raised cattle, wheat, alfalfa hay, and me. After going away to college, I returned home, went to work for a daily newspaper as a reporter, and fell head-over-heels in love with a boy I met on a blind date (set up by our dads). Captain Cavedweller and I have been happily married for more than two decades. Although we no longer live on a farm, we do live out in the country, which provides a perfect setting for my active imagination to conjure up ideas for my sweet romances. My favorite things in the world (besides Captain Cavedweller) are roses, chocolate (the really good stuff), and the heavenly scent of babies.
Can't think of much that top those three. What inspired you to become a writer?
Shanna: I’ve always loved to read. My mother shared her love of books with me early on. The first story I recall writing was in the third grade about a raccoon (my brother had a pet one at the time). In addition, my dad frequently told stories. I used to listen to him spin a tale and see the amusement and enjoyment on the faces of others. The combination of my love of books, my interest in writing, and knowing someone who shared stories helped point me in the direction of becoming a writer.
Story-telling parents are the best! When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Shanna: I enjoying cooking and love baking. Yesterday I made a banana cake that made the whole house smell so yummy, I wasn’t sure Captain Cavedweller was going to make it through dinner before he cut a piece. Once in a while, I like to do craft projects, but nothing that requires a lot of time, supplies or attention. I’m more of a whip out my glue gun and go to town kind of girl.
I know a new recipe I'll need to try. My sweetie loves banana. Who is your favorite author?
Shanna: I can’t pick just one. Honest. There are just too many wonderful authors out there. But I’ll give you a list of some I’ve enjoyed the past few weeks and they include Melanie D. Snitker, Lia London, Marcia Lynn McClure, and Karen Witemeyer.
Too many favorites is a common predicament with readers. Tell us about the books you write.
Shanna: My fiction books are all sweet romances. I write both historical and contemporary. I don’t have a favorite of one type over the other. Because I love history and research is something I enjoy (yes, I’m weird), the historicals are fun to write. It’s fun to envision all the beautiful clothes of yesteryear and the polished manners. On the flip side of that coin, the contemporary stories allow me to incorporate sassier, sarcastic characters. When the bug bites, I also write humorous stories and a random cookbook or two.
Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?
Shanna: I would love it if they’d pop on by my website: http://shannahatfield.com/books
They can browse through all my books there and find fun extras like character info sheets with the “faces” I used as visual inspiration for the stories as well as little tidbits about the characters.
Congrats on your new release! Tell us about your contribution to Sweet Christmas Kisses 2, The Christmas Crusade.
Shanna: In the story, Levi Clarke has recently taken over as the director of Center For Hope — a community outreach center that helps families in the Portland, Oregon, area. Desperate for funding to help bring Christmas to the needy families, Levi seeks support for a large corporation in the city and ends up face-to-face with Kathleen Kingsley. Kat and Levi have a bit of history. He fell in love with her, she dumped him because she needed to focus on her career, and neither one of them have gotten past their attraction to each other.
What was your inspiration for this story?
Shanna: A few years ago, I wrote a sweet romance called The Coffee Girl. The hero had a friend named Levi. The heroine’s best friend was a girl named Kat. In the story, when Kat and Levi meet, sparks fly… but then we don’t really know what happened to them because they were only secondary characters in the story. They became increasingly insistent that their story needed to be written — so here we are.
Those minor characters have a habit of doing that. I know some of your books have snippets from your life experiences in them. Were there any true experiences in The Christmas Crusade?
Shanna: Several years ago, I served on the board of a philanthropic organization. We collected toys, clothing, food and monetary donations for families in need. Generally, we were able to bring Christmas cheer to about three hundred needy families. Seeing how our combined efforts brought so much joy to others always touched my heart. That’s where the inspiration for Levi’s crusade for Center for Hope came to life.
What a wonderful Christmas gift to give! You mention several popular Christmas carols in your book. Is one of them your favorite?
Shanna: I love (LOVE) Christmas carols and would play them year round if no one would complain. And I have so many of them that touch my heart or make me smile, or evoke a sweet memory. One of my all-time favorites, though, is Mary Did You Know? Makes me cry every time I hear it.
My children would join you in playing Christmas songs year-round. Sometimes I humor them. Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?
Shanna: Throughout my growing up years, my family always went to the wood to cut down a Christmas tree. We lived in a part of Oregon that grew sagebrush, not lush fir trees, so we’d pile into trucks and drive almost two hours to the woods then spend the day. One year, my brother brought different flavors of soda pop and made us all snow cones. Another time I went with a cast on my foot. A few weeks later when the doctor removed the cast, it contained an ample supply of pine needles. It wasn’t just picking out the trees and bringing them home, it was spending the day doing something fun with all of our family.
I love family fun too. What great memories! What is your favorite Christmas story?
Shanna: My favorite all-time Christmas story is one of drama, disappointment, perseverance, surrender, and love beyond comprehension… the birth of Jesus. My favorite holiday romance is a wonderful little story written by Kathleen Morgan called The Christkindl’s Gift. And reading it always makes me crave German food.
The story of Christ's birth is one of my favorites too. The characters in this book are so easy to love and relate to. Was one of them your favorite to write? (We won't tell the others.)
Shanna: (LOL!) I didn’t plan on it, but I became quite attached to Levi’s brother, Mike. He’s been hinting that he’d like his own story next year. We shall see… Of the two main characters, though, I’d probably say Levi is my favorite just because he grew up in a middle class home with a “normal” family structure which is easier for me to relate to than Kat’s background.
Ooh, I'll have to keep watching to see if Mike gets his wish. There are so many beautiful and fun scenes in The Christmas Crusade. I'd share mine, but I don't want to spoil the ending. What was your favorite scene to write?
Shanna: The ending is one of my favorites, but I also got a kick out of writing the scene where Kat shows up for a meeting with Levi wearing a One Direction T-shirt. Normally, she’s so professional and the T-shirt is so far out of Kat’s realm… I think that’s what made it so fun. I think anytime we can take characters out of their comfort zone, it makes them seem more realistic, more relatable.
That was one of the scenes I laughed the hardest at! I understand there's a Facebook party celebrating the release of Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 today. What can you tell us about it?
Shanna: All nineteen authors are joining in the fun… so there will be many giveaways, prizes, games and tomfoolery. Anyone interested is welcome to attend. The party runs from noon to 10 p.m. (ET) and I’ll take over hosting duties from 2:30-3p.m.
I'm definitely going to be there! Right now The Christmas Crusade is an eBook in the anthology. Are there plans to release it in print?
Shanna: Yes! Kat and Levi’s story will be available in paperback next week.
Yay! That will be exciting. Where can readers go to order Sweet Christmas Kisses 2?
Thank you for joining us today! Good luck with your release.
Shanna: Thank you so much for hosting me today! It’s a pleasure to be here!
Be sure to check out all the fun at the release party on Facebook and definitely add this sweet story to your reading list. It's a fun Christmas tale you won't want to miss!
The Christmas Crusade by Shanna Hatfield
Levi Clarke is on a crusade to create a merry Christmas for the patrons of Center for Hope community center. He’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen, even if it means seeking a sponsorship from Kat Kingsley, the woman too stubborn to realize she’s still in love with him.
Levi pulled her to a halt. “Are you limping?”
“It’s nothing. I know better than to wear such high heels to an event like this, but they matched my dress.”
Levi bent over and placed his shoulder against Kat’s midsection, lifting her like a sack of potatoes.
She shrieked and grabbed onto the first thing she could reach, which just happened to be his firm rear end. He jumped at the unexpected touch, but didn’t set her down, continuing to the front door of her building. The doorman grinned so broadly, Levi thought the old gent might drop his dentures.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius