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Friday, December 12, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Robin Jones Gunn and Engaging Father Christmas

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Engaging Father Christmas
FaithWords - October 30, 2008)
by Robin Jones Gunn


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ROBIN JONES GUNN grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawaii.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for over 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin's favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins' Christian Writers' Guild.

LIVE AUTHOR CHAT

Robin will be doing a live chat online at Abunga.com on Dec. 17 from 2-3 p.m. EST. Gunn has written more than 60 books including the popular "Christy Miller," "Sierra Jensen" and "College Years" teen series and the "Glenbrooke" and "Sisterchicks" series. During the Abunga.com chat, she will be taking questions and talking about her new book, "Engaging Father Christmas." To join in that chat, log onto www.Abunga.com/AuthorsAtAbunga. You can submit pre-chat questions now at the log in page.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

If you would like to read an excerpt, go HERE.

Buy your copy of Engaging Father Christmas Today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

A visit to England and a Muppet Christmas Carol.

How's that for a combination! The Christmas Carol came first. Years ago I was watching the Muppet version with our daughter and got all teary at the part where the spirit of Christmas Present opens the door to Scrooge and says, "Come in, come in and know me better, man!" Now every time I watch it I still get misty at that part. The reason is because I believe God, the Father of Christmas, extends that same invitation to all of us. He opens the door to salvation through Christ's birth (Christ-mas) and welcomes us to come in and know Him better.

The visit to England was while I was researching Sisterchicks Go Brit! I visited a few villages that proved to be great inspiration for the imaginary town of Carlton Heath in the Father Christmas books. While visiting Rochester and the last home of Charles Dickens I began formulating the story idea. It was there, in front of grand stone chapel that I thought about writing a Christmas novella and including all the charm of England.

Photos of all these places of inspiration are on my facebook in a photo album titled Father Christmas Tea Party. My name on facebook is Robin Jones Gunn. Come be my friend!

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

In both of the Father Christmas novellas just about everything is made up. The only similar experiences would be the visits I've made to England to soak up the inspiration of the setting. I'm not sure I share any traits with the characters. My husband's ancestors are from Scotland, just like Andrew and Ian. Does that count?

3. What themes exist in Engaging Father Christmas that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I'm pretty much an organic writer. My strengths are in storytelling rather than in plot and theme and development. (Maybe I shouldn't be confessing this so openly. Are any of my editors reading this?) So the theme of God inviting us to come in and know Him better is definitely what got me motivated when I started writing. As I got into both the Father Christmas books I discovered that the concept of "belonging" kept surfacing. Belonging is really a gift, isn't it? Miranda was looking for a place where she belonged. She thought her longings would be settled when she found a way to fit in with the extended Whitcombe family, but ultimately, the longing she felt was for belonging to the family of God.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

My favorite part of all in both books is in Finding Father Christmas when Miranda remembers swimming in a hotel pool at night as a child. I'll post a portion of it here. You can go to my website www.robingunn.com and hear the opening of Finding Father Christmas on the Radio feature. Here's the motel pool scene excerpt from Finding Father Christmas:

I followed my mother down the stairs, both of us in our thin, cotton pajamas. The motel pool was small and separated from the parking lot by a chain link fence lined with sheets of hard, green plastic. All the outside lights of the Swan Motel glowed with a pale weariness as if they, also, were too hot to shine their brightest and had turned themselves to dim.
"It's still hot out here," I whispered.
"Yes, it is," she murmured in the stillness. "Hot as dragon's breath."
My mother lifted the latch on the chain link gate that led into the pool area. She walked right in as if the "Pool Closed After 9pm" sign applied to everyone else but us.
"They'll be looking for a cool watering hole this night," she said, dipping her foot into the shallow end. "When they come, you will allow the dragons to drink as much as they like, undisturbed, won't you?"
I nodded.
"Your movements in the water must produce only the tiniest of ripples."
I nodded again and lowered my thin legs into the water.
That's when I saw him. The one eyed dragon.
In the darkness of the still waters the smoldering illumination of the light under the diving board appeared to be the halfway-opened yellow eye of a camouflaged dragon gazing back at us.
A shiver raced up my torso.
Ignoring the dragon, my mother demurely dipped her slender frame all the way under the water, submerging with barely a sound. I watched as her oversized T-shirt billowed around her like a jellyfish.
Bravely lowering myself into the water only up to my neck, I kept a watchful eye on the dragon in the deep end of the pool. He did not move. Neither did I. The gap between us remained a flat distance of undisturbed, watery space.
My mother swam about freely, silently. I bobbed and blinked only when I had to. Then she motioned for me to follow as she slipped out of the shallow end. We trotted as quickly as we could back to our room.
With a finger to her lips, she said, "We must hurry before one of them follows us into our room. Dragons are drawn in by the scent of chlorine."
She silently slid the key into the door and jiggled it once, twice, three times.
"Hurry!" my tiny voice begged. The legs of my cotton pajamas clung to me as the dripping pool water began to puddle at our doorstep, leaving more traceable chlorine with every drop.
"Open!" My mother commanded the door knob. Suddenly the key worked. We pressed through together, as I stifled my squeals.
My mother quickly slammed the door, locked it, bolted it with the chain and motioned for me to cautiously peek out the front window behind the closed curtain. I squinted at the submerged yellow eye that hadn't moved from the deep end of the pool. We stood together, barely breathing in the darkness, reeking of chlorine. My heart raced deliciously.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

It's the last Sisterchicks(R) novel, Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes!, where the midlife mamas are off to the Netherlands. After that it's the third Katie Weldon novel, Coming Attractions.

I'd love to invite your readers to sign up on my website http://www.robingunn.com/ to receive the Robin's Nest Newsletter. I often offer drawings for free books and give updates on what's next and where I'll be speaking or signing.

Thanks again, for the invitation to jump in here! Comfort and Joy in Jesus!

* * * * *

Thank you, Robin, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Engaging Father Christmas.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

* * * * *

11 comments:

Maureen said...

That was a great interview. What an interesting excerpt. I would love to read the story.
mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

Pamela J said...

...And I thought the book sounded good before I read the little portion you left for us to read. WOW, how fantastic! Please enter me. Thanks.
Pam W
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

ChristyJan said...

I've been hearing wonderful things about this book!

hawkes(at)citlink.net

Cheri2628 said...

This sounds like a wonderful story. I have heard so many good things about it. Please enter me in the drawing.

castings[at]mindspring[dot]com

stampedwithgrace said...

I love Robin's Sisterchicks books! and I'd love to win this book, please enter me :)

Carole said...

The beautiful cover and title alone make me want to read this book! Thank you for the giveaway.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Robin said...

I just love giveaways! If any of you would like to receive my Robin's Nest Newsletter, please sign up on my website: www.robingunn.com or send me a little hello at Robinsnest@robingunn.com With each newsletter I usually have a drawing of some sort and giveaway lots of books. I'd love to add you to the cozy circle!
Robin

windycindy said...

Please count me in on this delightful book giveaway drawing. I appreciate it~ Thanks, Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Martha A. said...

The last sisterchicks book? Whatever will we do without them? = (
I would love to win Robin's book!
martha(at)lclink(dot)com

Cherie J said...

Ooh! This one is on my wishlist so would love to win. Enjoyed the spotlight!

cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:

CHERI!

Congratulations! I've sent your mailing information to Robin so she can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.