Cynthia, welcome to my Christmas series of Writers on Reading. I’ve been looking forward to these interviews like—well, excuse the cliché—but a kid at Christmas! So with your recent Christmas story, An Endless Christmas, having released in October, what is your favorite part about a Christmas-themed story?
I love looking at Christmas from lots of different angles, as one might approach a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. From across the room, you see the overall look, the brightness, a sense of décor. As you draw closer, you notice individual ornaments and what they represent or the memories they evoke. Then your gaze travels up and down the tree and as far side-to-side as is visible, noting a crocheted snowflake you hadn’t seen earlier or finding that handmade ornament from your kindergarten year.
Each Christmas story offers a new view of Christmas.
Oh! What a truly lovely way of putting it! What do you look for when selecting a Christmassy novel or novella to cozy up with this month?
I appreciate a Christmas story with enough realism that I can identify with the characters, enough humor to ease the tension, and more than a one-line moral-to-the-story. Life is more complicated than that. Christmas addresses life’s concerns on so many more levels than making a couple of days happy and warm. So when I look for—or write—a Christmas story, I’m looking for something that won’t just make me feel good, but will leave me pondering.
Very true, sounds like you choose---and write---good books. I don’t know about you, but many of us associate this season with traditional baking. I don’t think a Christmas novel would be complete without those special scents floating around in your head. What are your favorite Christmas goodies to read or write about?
In my recent release—An Endless Christmas—the foods were comfort foods—chicken and dumpling soup, traditional turkey with all the trimmings, cut-out cookies, stuffed French toast for breakfast. I love to read about “foodie” kinds of foods—bacon-wrapped anything, baked brie and apricot jam, ethnic foods, and meals beautifully plated. I live my foodie self through books and FoodTV.
Fun! Is there an element of these books that you’d feel cheated if it wasn’t there? Or something special you like to add to your Christmas stories?
A Christmas story that leaves all the holy moments to a church service has missed the integration and wonder of the influence on the meaning of Christmas throughout the year, throughout the dailies of life as well as the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Because I write stories hemmed in hope, I’m intentional about making sure hope is clearly evident in my Christmas fiction.
As far back as you remember, what was the first Christmas-related fiction story you read or had read to you? Is there a Christmas book you like to share with your children or grandchildren? Do you have any other special Christmas reading memories?
I think the first Christmas story I read or my parents read to me was ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s a book we enjoyed sharing with our kids and grandkids, too. But How the Grinch Stole Christmas is another family favorite. Another sweet Christmas reading memory is nonfiction—the story of the first Christmas read from the second chapter of Luke in the Bible. It gets to me every time.
What is on your Christmas fiction to-read list this year? And what is your ideal Christmas reading experience?
For the last several years, I’ve had multiple deadlines in November and December. While that’s a great blessing for an author, it also means my leisure reading isn’t usually during the holidays. For fun, I may reward myself for reaching the deadlines by reading Debbie Macomber’s recent Dashing Through the Snow and relive Christmas all over again!
An ideal reading experience would be in a super-comfy leather loveseat, wrapped in a quilt, a mug of hot Japanese tea, and a fire in the fireplace. Mmmm.
Over the years, has any Christmas novel or novella really stuck with you that you’d like to share with our readers? And is there one you’re looking forward to rereading?
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry is an exceptional story worth rereading. I was one of four authors who wrote novellas for A Door County Christmas (2010). The setting is such a charmer and a favorite vacation spot, and the four storylines gave us such joy in the writing. I still think about those characters from time to time. It would be fun to reread that one, having just had a few days in Door County at the end of September. Colleen Coble’s All is Calm/All is Bright looks like a great read.
Thank you for visiting with us, Cynthia! I loved getting to share your Christmas reading experiences. Folks, you can continue to connect with Cynthia at these links: http://www.cynthiaruchti.com or hemmedinhope.com.
Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases "All My Belongings" (novel), "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (novel), and "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW's Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves.