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Interview with Jennifer Chastain

Welcome, Jennifer! What inspired you to start writing?
As I look back on my writing journey, there is one moment that stands out: fourteen years ago, I was teaching high school speech and drama in our church’s private Christian school. After one particular lesson, we talked about impromptu storytelling, speaking extemporaneously, and then the class performed an exercise where the students picked a topic out of hat and had to talk about that topic or tell a story for 2-3 minutes. One of my students said, “Mrs. Chastain, I think you should write a book.” I asked him why and he said I was able to make up stuff off the top of my head.

Well, at that time, I didn’t think anything about what he said, but over the next several years, that really stayed with me. Even years before this, God had laid it on my heart to write. There are many more instances I could cite where I received these types of affirmations, where God was nudging me to step out in faith to write. All these instances solidified my journey to becoming a published author.

What was your inspiration for The Mistletoe Contract?

I don’t know about you, but Christmas is my favorite holiday. Two years ago, I was watching the previews for the new Hallmark Christmas movies. A few days later, a story idea popped into my head and I thought, this would make a good story. Combined with my favorite reality show, Married at First Sight (individuals are matched to a partner and then the first time they meet them is at the altar when they get married) the idea just hit me. I sat on that idea for a couple of weeks, meditating on the characters, did character profiles and finally, another writer friend and I talked through the story and plotted it out. What if, instead of not knowing each other, the couple had dated, their relationship was intense, but burned out after a couple of weeks together.

When they meet again, it’s been eight years and a lot of bitterness and anger still simmer beneath the surface. And what if they had a modern-day marriage of convenience. But there would have to be extenuating circumstances for her to even consider marrying the man that broke her heart. The ideas just snowballed from there. I wanted an emotional story but also one with a definitive happily ever after. I love the idea of second chances, an opportunity to right wrongs and reconcile with those we love. We’ve all been given second chances (and third, fourth, etc.) through God’s grace in our lives. I guess you could say, in the long run, the “holiday spirit” assisted with this story idea!

What did God teach you during the writing of The Mistletoe Contract? What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
There were a couple of things that God used in my life while I wrote The Mistletoe Contract. First, God’s providence. No matter your circumstances, God is our provider. He has provided for me and my husband in many ways over the years. Secondly, forgiveness. If we hold on to our hurts and refuse to forgive those who have wronged us, it doesn’t hurt anyone but myself. It always amazes me that God uses my own stories to remind me of His goodness and mercy.

What I want my readers to take away from this story is that that God forgives, He will provide for your needs, and no matter what, we need to be thankful and joyful. Being joyful can be difficult when we are going through some tough times. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a way out of troubles, God is there with us the entire time. But there is also reconciliation in this story, a second chance for the main character, Nate, to right wrongs and heal the wounds he inflicted. In the end, Christmas is a time of hope and renewal, not only for the world, but for each of us individually.

Looking back on your journey to publication, how did God open those doors for you?
Oh wow, another good question. I was able to attend the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference in 2017 and 2018, as well as Susan May Warren’s 2017 Deep Woods Writing Camp and the 2019 Deep Thinkers Retreat. All of these experiences were invaluable as I was able to make friends in the writing community as well as learn from excellent teachers. I pitched a couple of these stories at the Blue Ridge Mountains Writers Conference and the NC Christian Writers Conference and had a lot of good feedback.

Then, in June of 2019, I took the plunge and participated in FaithPitch on Twitter. I pitched two stories, one of which was the The Mistletoe Contract. Both stories I pitched received a heart, which meant the agent or editor was interested and wanted my proposals. Talk about scary! It took me almost 4 months to get my courage up and send off the story proposals. And when I received the email from Anaiah Press stating that they wanted to offer me a book contract, I sat there staring at my phone, tears in my eyes, and thanking God for the opportunity to see my dream come true.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m finishing up edits on the first book in a trilogy about three very different brothers. This first book is about the youngest brother, a CrossFit athlete, who still has regrets about the way he and his high school sweetheart ended things after graduation twenty years ago. My goal is to send it to the acquisition editor by the end of October.

The other two stories are in different stages of development. I need to completely rewrite the middle brother’s story, who is a retired NFL quarterback, since it was the first story I wrote. The oldest brother’s story is almost finished. Plus, I have 3 other story ideas in various stages of development. All stories are set in the same fictional small town in North Carolina and are stand-alone novels.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Umm, sleep? Just kidding! I’m either writing, reading a book (usually in my genre of contemporary romance), plotting a new story, talking story with writer friends, attending a weekly virtual writing seminar or working. Yes, I know, I’m boring!

Before the pandemic, I would workout at the gym 3-4 times a week. Now, though, I’ve been doing a lot of baking (although I still haven’t made any sour dough bread yet), trying out new recipes, create seasonal decorations for my house, as well as cleaning out and reorganizing my closets. And I love to shop on!

How can we pray for you?
Right now, with the book releasing on November 6th, I have a lot on my plate, since I also work a full-time job outside the home. Please pray that I would be able to prioritize and complete all my tasks. Secondly, that the Lord would continue to bless my writing, give me new stories to write, anoint the words I write and open more doors for me. And finally, my father had emergency cancer surgery two months ago, so if you could pray for his health, for strength, and his healing, I would appreciate it.


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance. Her contest wins include first place in the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest. Also a professional cellist, Amanda has been spotted onstage with the worship team at the ACFW Conference. A lifelong lover of the flatlands, she lives in Kansas with her husband and their three adorable Wenlets. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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