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Interview with Christina Sinisi

When Christina saw a call for Christmas novellas, she didn’t let the three-week deadline deter her from a chance to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a writer. After the novella’s acceptance, she has gone on to publish a second Christmas book and has plans for other romances in the works. She shares about her writing process, publishing journey, and the quote that became a running joke.

Welcome, Christina. Congratulations on the publication of Christmas at Okracoke! I am intrigued by the name, is Okracoke a real place?
Thank you! And yes, Ocracoke Island is the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Banks, a strip of islands off the coast of North Carolina. It’s only reached by ferry (or by private boat or plane).

Two of your books are set at Christmas, do you think the holiday setting makes it easier or harder to write?
I think the holiday setting makes it easier to write because there’s built-in activities and a ticking time clock--the couple has to be in love by Christmas.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing poetry in third grade. So, pretty much all of my life. There have been times when my job and life kept me from writing, but I always come back.

What is your favorite part of being a writer? Your least favorite?
My favorite part is that free-wheeling, everything-is-possible first draft. My least favorite part has been rejection letters. If you’re referring to the actual writing process, it’s developmental edits. I’m not a fan of making big changes because I become wedded to my words--I know we’re not supposed to do that, but I do become attached.

Do you enjoy researching?
I do. I love learning (that could be why I’m a professor by day). I enjoy going to museums and visiting new places. I’d love to also write historical romances some day just so I could learn more.

I see you wrote a novella in three weeks! Did the fast deadline make it easier or harder?
I love the specificity of these questions! Writing to that fast deadline was more difficult, but it was also an exciting challenge. All I can say is thank goodness I saw that call for Christmas novellas in June, when I wasn’t teaching. God’s hand is in all things--I was supposed to teach a summer class but it didn’t “make”. Not enough students signed up and I was free to write.

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you as a writer?
I’ve been writing and pursuing publication for a long time. As a member of our local RWA chapter here in the Lowcountry, I met historical romance author Eloisa James when she came to speak. When I picked her up at the airport, we were amazed by how much we look alike and how much we have in common. Because of her, I was included in the documentary, Love Between the Covers. The film crew followed me around a conference, interviewed me for a separate interview in which I gave brilliant academic answers about the history of romance, and filmed a critique session between Eloisa and me. The only thing they kept? Eloisa telling me to put more sex in my book. It was my first inspirational romance! When the film was screened, that quote became a running joke. Aargh!

How do you choose names for your characters?
I’ve also been teaching for a long time. I’ve had so many wonderful students in my classes--at the university and in my Sunday School at church. So far, the characters are inspired by real people but then the characters take on lives and personalities of their own. They’ll have the name of one student and a personality quirk from another and the appearance of someone I saw in a magazine.

What do you feel is the most important part of your publishing journey?
That call for a Christmas novella last year. I’ve been writing for decades (usually only in the summer and haven’t submitted nearly as much as I should have), but Anaiah Press’s yes was the answer to a life-long dream.

What's your favorite writing snack?
I try not to snack--I just drink a lot of ice water to keep me going! If I do crave a snack, I try to eat something in small pieces--popcorn, M&M’s, or even cereal because that one little bite at a time makes the goodness last longer!.

What message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
God’s mercies are renewed every morning. We all get fresh starts every day, if we’ll just take what’s offered. Part of that is forgiving those who have hurt us--and moving on.


Jody Stinson believes every story deserves a happy ending—even if she has to write one herself. After an international upbringing, she continues to travel whenever she can. Her goal is to take her readers somewhere new, make them smile, and give them hope through Christ. She currently writes freelance including articles, devotionals, commercials, and even a client's wedding toast.

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