Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One Imperfect Christmas - Author Interview

It's my privilege to host author Myra Johnson this morning and her book One Imperfect Christmas. I reviewed this book a while back but it was such a touching story that it's worth spotlighting again.

One Imperfect Christmas
Myra Johnson
(Abingdon Press)

Only Love Makes a Christmas Perfect. A warm, inspirational story of faith, hope, and love for the holiday season!

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear

Read my review here.

Here's an interview with Myra Johnson:

What is your favorite holiday tradition?

One of my favorite and most meaningful traditions is attending candlelight Christmas Eve worship and singing in the choir. I love seeing the sanctuary bathed in the golden glow of hundreds of candles as the whole congregation sings “Silent Night.” Another annual tradition is watching our DVD of White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. My husband and I choose a quiet night when we can snuggle in front of the fireplace with our cookies and eggnog. We’ve seen the movie so many times now that we can almost recite the lines and sing the songs right along with the actors.

What do you think is the perfect gift? What do you hope to find in your stocking this year?

I think God already provided the perfect Gift—Jesus Christ, our Savior. However, nothing is more special than having all my children and grandchildren together on Christmas morning. And if there is some dark chocolate in my stocking, so much the better!

Is the story you tell in One Imperfect Christmas inspired by any true events?

Not really, except the part about the therapeutic riding center. My husband and I volunteered at a center several years ago, and it truly was a rewarding experience. The earliest ideas for the story actually came from a dream several years ago after I’d overdosed on Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. The dream involved a couple about to celebrate their fiftieth Christmas together, but something stood in their way. I just had to figure out what that “something” was, and that’s how I eventually came up with Natalie’s story.

Why does Natalie blame herself for her mother's illness? How did you develop the emotional conflict in this character?

Natalie loves her mother very much, and in many ways they’re a lot alike—including their stubborn streaks. Natalie regrets coming up with excuses when her mother asks for a little help putting away the Christmas decorations, and Natalie mistakenly believes if she’d been there when her mother had the stroke, she might have been able to do something.

Developing Natalie’s emotional conflict came from trying to imagine a mother/daughter relationship as close as Natalie’s was with Belinda, and the things in their shared past that either drew them together or pulled them apart. I also drew upon feelings about my own mother and the ups and downs of our relationship, including guilt over times when I could have been a better adult daughter.

Your story imagines an imperfect Christmas. What would need to happen to make it... perfect? Is that even possible given the circumstances your characters find themselves in?

For Natalie, the “perfect” Christmas would have been all her family together and healthy to celebrate the holidays, just as they always had before her mother’s stroke. Her inflated hopes and “sanitized” memories of past Christmases set her up for even greater disappointment, so this Christmas she must face some hard truths about herself and rediscover what family really means.

While Christmas is filled with joy for many people, there are some who are grieving or struggling, including the family in your story. What are some practical ways readers can help others this season?

I think the hardest thing for anyone to deal with during the holidays is loneliness. Though our family hasn’t faced a situation quite like what is dealt with in my book, there have been Christmases when our children couldn’t make it home and we had no other family nearby to celebrate with. This was the case last year, but we were blessed by some dear friends who invited us to spend Christmas Day with them.

Especially if you know someone who will be alone during the holidays, invite them over and help them feel welcome and included in your Christmas festivities. On the other hand, those grieving a loss or caring for a seriously ill loved one may not be emotionally able to participate in the usual holiday events. Maybe you could bring over a meal or some special Christmas goodies, or perhaps offer to pick up something they need while you’re out shopping. If your church choir goes caroling, ask to put your hurting friends on the evening’s itinerary. At the very least, send a card with a personal note to let them know you’re thinking of them. Just a little Christmas cheer can go a long way to brighten someone’s holiday.

Do you have more books that our readers should check out? Where can they find more information?

My latest release from Abingdon Press is When the Clouds Roll By, book 1 in my post-WWI historical romance series Till We Meet Again. Books 2 and 3 will be out in 2014. Readers can learn more about my books by visiting my website, www.MyraJohnson.com, or my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MyraJohnsonAuthor. I Tweet as @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen, and you can also find me in Seekerville, www.seekerville.net, where I blog with 12 other Christian novelists.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Linda. It’s been a pleasure!

My thanks to Cat Hoort of Abingdon Press for providing this interview.


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Anonymous said...

Great interview, Myra! What sort of folks utilize a therapeutic riding center?

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, Tina! The clients at the center where we volunteered ranged in age from 3 or 4 years to senior adults. There were clients with autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, brain injury, stroke, MS, and other types of learning or physical disabilities. There's something about the motion of a horse that triggers certain centers in the human brain. I sure can't explain it, but I have seen the amazing results!

Pam Hillman said...

Ah, when you've lived a little, loved a little, and lost a little, a perfect Christmas is relative.

Perfect is having family together, safe, and well.

Early Merry Christmas to all!

Myra Johnson said...

I agree, Pam! Thanks for stopping by!