Today, we will talk to Diane Craver about A Christmas Gift, her latest book published by Whimsical Publications. I loved reading this book and reviewed it recently. See: http://christianbookmobile.blogspot.com/2010/12/christmas-gift-by-diane-craver.html.
She also wrote: Whitney in Charge (sweet contemporary) and Marrying Mallory (inspirational romance), both published by Desert Breeze. A Fiery Secret (chick-lit mystery), No Greater Loss (inspirational romance) and Never the Same (women’s fiction), published by Samhain Publishing.
Q: You said the story is fictional but based on your own childhood experiences. Can you tell us specifically what led you to write the story?
A: I had thought of writing a story about my father, Horace Wilson, for a long time. His life was hard with his mother’s rejection at a young age, and he was raised by various relatives. Some homes were better than others, because he stayed at times with an alcoholic uncle. Even though both parents deserted him, he had a deep faith and was able to be a good father to me and my siblings. Although I wanted my book to have the emotional honesty of a memoir, I decided to fictionalize it. My goal was to capture a time and place in my childhood based on a true incident in my life that saddened and shocked me. An image of my father’s secret was burned into my mind forever, so the following sentences are the first ones in A Christmas Gift. “It was 1957 when I saw something that I wasn’t meant to see. I have never forgotten this night because it had such an impact on me.”
Q: I worried about how well everyone accepted the cantankerous Grandma Fogle. Was she written that way to add more conflict?
A: I did want to add more conflict but I was also influenced by my own grandmother. She was self-centered, putting her own needs first. When my father was young, she decided that she had a better chance to get married without him around.
Q: Debra convinced herself she needed to love her Grandma regardless. Have you ever had to do that yourself?
A: Yes, I’ve had to force myself to love certain people who have been very hurtful. I’ve prayed to let go of the negative feelings towards certain relatives and others. All of us carry baggage and we need to rid ourselves of these feelings and do what the Lord wants.
Q: How did you decide whether or not to include an angel in the story?
A: Another good question, Sid. Originally I started the chapter with Elizabeth appearing to Debby. I thought it would be good to have James’s sister talk to Debby, but it just didn’t work for me. Then it occurred to me that an angel would be perfect for this scene. Including an angel in my story was important because I believe God sends angels to guide and protect us during dangerous situations. As the Bible says, “He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11).
Q: The letter from Debra's father to her was perfect. Tell us about writing it.
A: Thank you, Sid. That means a lot to me. The letter flowed from my heart because I was already so invested in the characters of Justin Reeves and Debra.
Q: In the epilogue we learn that Debra becomes a heart surgeon. How did you decide to do that?
A: I’ve always had a strong interest in medicine. I planned on becoming a registered nurse, but the high school guidance counselor discouraged me. He felt I wasn’t strong enough in science to go into nursing. Instead I majored in education and became a teacher. In my mind, Debra was meant to be a doctor and nothing else. By the way, I loved researching how surgeons repair damaged hearts. That’s the fun part of being a writer. Researching different careers to use for my characters is an education in itself and lots of fun.
Thank you for interviewing me, Sid!
You're welcome, and thank you for giving us this special insight into writing A Christmas Gift.