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Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley

Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning, multi-published author who runs a successful blog used in the promotion of other authors. An experienced speaker, she can often be found leading workshops at writer’s conferences, as well as giving motional talks at church meetings and retreats. Always one to reach out to readers, she is available for a phone call or skype session for book club sessions.

Lena, congratulations on the release of the 12 Gifts of Christmas. Is this your first contemporary non-western romance?
Actually, I’ve been published in both contemporary and historical romances, but there are more historical novels than contemporary.

Since your website book blurb mentions that your hero of 12 Gifts of Christmas, Malcolm MacGregor, is a descendant of the Clan MacGregor, does that mean his Scottish ancestry plays a part in the story?
Yes, it does. I think the readers will like the way it does.

Your heroine’s name of Alanza Cantalamessa has a musical rhythm which I assume is due to her heritage, but does it also elude to a musical ability?
No. She is an artist, not a singer, except at church.

Why did you decide that Malcolm’s job promotion should take him to Australia?
The publisher gave me the title she wanted, and she wanted the romance to take place in twelve days. Actually, I prayed and asked God for a story before I would sign a contract with her. He gave me this story. We needed an event that would make the short time make sense. That’s what God gave me.

What research was involved in 12 Gifts of Christmas?
I did have to research quite a bit. I always strive to make my stories authentic to the time and place. Since I set the story near where I live, I knew about many of the things I used, but I also had to research other things I didn’t know much about. It’s usually easier to research contemporary novels than it is historical, and that was true with this one. There’s much more information on the Internet to add authenticity to the story.

Do you have a Pinterest board on the 12 Gifts of Christmas?
I wish I had thought of that. Because the publisher decided late last year that she wanted to publish a full-length Christmas novel this year, and Christmas novels usually are released in September, I didn’t have much time to write the book. I didn’t have the time to make a Pinterest board for it. Maybe I’ll do one now.

Was this contemporary romance easier or harder to write than your usual historical romances?
Because of the time constraints, and God giving me the story, I had to really trust Him with the story. I knew lots of the things that needed to happen, but as I wrote, He dropped ideas and information into my mind as I wrote. I always pray about my stories, but did more for this one than usual.

What do you enjoy most about writing Christmas stories?
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. I play Christmas music, starting the day after Thanksgiving and don’t stop until New Year’s Day. I love everything Christmas. Writing stories that are entertaining while also pointing the reader to the real meaning of Christmas is a joy to my heart.

But this story had several surprises even to me as I wrote it. Praise the Lord.

What is your fondest memory of Christmas?
One year, when James and I hadn’t been married many years, we had a “The Gift of the Magi” year. If you’re not familiar with the story, look it up on the Internet. I think you’ll like this short story.

What happened with us was that I saved as much money as I could from my grocery money to buy James something special. He had been in a woodworking class in high school. We had a few pieces of furniture he had made then. I wanted to buy him a power tool. A friend of ours, who worked in the power tool department at Sears, helped me buy him a jig saw. And he used it right after Christmas to build shelves and a toy box for our girls’ room.

At the same time, he saved his money to buy me a phonograph. I had a collection of LP records from when I was in college, but we didn’t have any way to play them.

I thought this was going to be his special Christmas, and he planned for my special Christmas.

Have you written any other stories using a holiday?
Oh, yes. I’ve written Christmas novellas for Barbour collections. And in 2015, 2016, and 2017, I’ve been a part of other novella collections for Christmas, April Fool’s Day, Thanksgiving, and July 4th. Actually, I have another book that released this September that is part of a Thanksgiving Books & Blessings collection. My title is Esther’s Temptation.

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