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Interview with Laura Hilton

Laura Hilton is a pastor’s wife and homeschool mom. She has written several other titles, but her newest release will be A White Christmas in Webster County.

Where did the idea for A White Christmas in Webster County originate?
I was asked to write an Amish novella with another author for a collection. Whitaker House has first rights of refusal on my Amish stories, so my agent approached them and they wanted to see it. I hadn’t written anything yet and talked with the editor and she wanted something in the same area as my other stories with some of the same characters. So I came up with this story – about the twin brother of one of my last characters.

What type of theme or message do you hope readers will take from this book?
I am not going to venture a guess at what God wants to communicate to the readers of A White Christmas in Webster County. But what I got from it is – “Be still and know that I am God.” And – “Where can I find Mercy—as in God’s mercy.”

How did you start writing?
That is hard to answer. I have always loved writing. Always. I remember in third grade my “short story” assignment turned out to be over 100 pages long before the teacher made me quit and turn it in. In seventh grade my English teacher told me I’d grow up to be a journalist. I didn’t. But I am writing.

Have you had to do much research for your books? What kind (travel, books, newspapers)?
My books are set in a small town outside of Springfield, Missouri, that I travel through whenever I go to that city. My trip isn’t complete without seeing Amish! My husband’s aunt (she is not Amish) lives there and so we spent some time in Seymour. She sents me news articles about the Amish. I also found Amish America a big help, as well as a local man who is Amish and relocated to a community near me in Arkansas.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith is a BIG part of my storytelling. I spend a lot of time in prayer and Bible study as I write. I want God to be the one who chooses the faith message and how it comes into the story. I don’t even know what it will be until God reveals it to me. Then I love how it comes together.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Believe it or not, breast cancer. Because before I went through that, I just wrote and it was fluff. There was some spiritual stuff in it but it wasn’t big and it wasn’t up to God. When I went through breast cancer, I told God the rest of my life was His. I am all about Him. And I want Him glorified in all that I do, say, or write.

Noticing that you homeschool just as I did, I know the time restraints this can put on your writing. Also, adding in the other factor we have in common which is being a pastor’s wife, what kind of writing schedule do you keep? How do you fit in writing with your other responsibilities?
Wow. Hard question. I always wondered how other homeschooling authors such as Tricia Goyer did it all. I still think she is super woman. But I learned to write around the family. I can tune out almost everything. My kids mostly work independent with their school work, except my youngest, but if she buckles down, she can be done with school in two or three hours. As for being a pastor's wife, I don’t write on Sundays, usually not on Wednesdays, and I am always prepared to drop everything at a moment's notice and run. Flexibility is a MUST.

Do you have your own writing space? Describe where you write.
I don’t have my personal writing space. I write in the living room in the hub of the family.

What advice do you have for aspiring fiction writers?
I was just talking with Lynette Sowell about that today. I usually tell people to put a button by their computer to signify, “put your bottom in a chair and write.” Today Lynette and I were talking about being in our first critique group together, with Patty Smith Hall, as beginning, freshman authors. All three of us are published now. And we mentioned that the big thing is that all three of us persevered. Of course, that’s basically the same thing! Write. And of course, read, read, read!

What other parting words do you have to share?
My maternal grandparents left the Amish before I was born, and it is a pleasure to write about something so near to the history of my family. Thanks for stopping by and if you like Amish Christmas stories, check out A White Christmas in Webster County.

Thanks for sharing with us, Laura Hilton!

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