Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A View from Melody Carlson's Window about her novella The Christmas Dog

It is a pleasure to welcome Melody Carlson to my Window and talk a bit about her Christmas novella The Christmas Dog. Please welcome Melody to my Window and share a bit of Christmas magic with her today!

Do you have a favorite Christmas story or book that has particularly touched your heart?

I’ve always been an O. Henry fan and The Gift of the Magi is a poignant Christmas tale that I’ve loved for years. In fact, it was the inspiration of one of my own Christmas novellas (All I Have to Give). O. Henry (a pseudonym) had some interesting life challenges (including doing some prison time) which might explain his unique ability to write so realistically and movingly about human behavior and problems—and yet his stories were always laced with hope.

Was there or is there a special dog in your life that spurred the idea for The Christmas Dog?

Many years ago, when our boys were preschool age, we were asked to doggy-sit by an international college student we’d befriended. She said it would only be for a week, but we ended up with that dog for sixteen years. She’d rescued the scruffy little mutt from the streets and named him Prince. And although he looked nothing like a “prince” he turned out to be A Prince Among Dogs (and actually has a book named after him). He was probably the inspiration for the dog in the book.

Do you have a special Christmas memory that stands out as extra-special?

The Christmas of 1964, Oregon experienced a major flood which closed schools and roads and made the holidays miserable for a lot of people. Because my mother was single, the need of an extended family (particularly during the holidays) was extreme. But my sister and I talked our mom into making the three hour trek to our grandparents, where we actually drove through a flooded river (watching a VW bug floating away) to get there. Then, once we were there, my grandfather told us that due to the flood we couldn’t go to the woods to get the usual tree. Naturally, this was a huge disappointment. But with a twinkle in his eyes, Grandpa took us out to the front yard where he proceeded to chop down one of his own beautiful holly trees. Decorating the tree was a prickly affair that year, but the end results were stunning. Worried that he’d be sorry about chopping down his tree, I later asked him about the sacrificed holly tree and he informed me that the city had told him to remove the holly trees from the parking strip because they obstructed the view for traffic.

You have written numerous Christmas novellas – what do you like best about writing this type of story?

There’s something about a Christmas story that invites “magic,” creativity and the unexpected. Because I never outline, writing is an exploratory journey for me, but it’s especially so with a Christmas tale. So I always look forward to when it’s time to write another one. Ironically I end up writing my Christmas stories right in the middle of summer—it might be close to 100 degrees outside and yet I’m writing about snow falling, hot chocolate and jingle bells. Fortunately my air conditioned writing studio looks out over a pine forest, but I’m often caught by surprise once I step out the door.

What is your favorite type of genre to read?

Contemporary fiction is probably my favorite thing to read. I particularly enjoy realistic stories about the “normal” struggles of everyday life. Take a few well developed characters (people I can relate to) and an interesting setting, add some challenges, and I’m hooked.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any closing words of encouragement you'd like to share with your readers?

As holidays approach I always look forward to spending time with family and friends. But I know, after years of many experiences, that ours is never a “picture book perfect” Christmas. With various challenges and dysfunctions in our family and extended family, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. And yet I still look forward to this time. Perhaps more than ever. I think it’s because I’ve grown up a little over the years. I’ve learned that even when things go sideways or totally wrong, there’s still something very worthwhile about being together. The good thing is that we all love each other despite our “imperfections”…and we’re all learning to forgive and accept and move forward. And, really, isn’t that what God wants from us? So why not decide here and now that, no matter how challenging it gets, we’ll all celebrate Christmas by loving one another the way Jesus loves us—unconditionally and fully. Merry Christmas!!!

1 comment:

Mocha with Linda said...

Great interview and a sweet book!