First, tell me a little about yourself.
BW: I’m a Tennessee girl who married a Connecticut Yankee and now lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. We have two grown sons who are both in currently in college. I have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English from Emory University in Atlanta. When I’m not working as a special education paraprofessional or writing, I love to read or watch movies. I’m also a fairly competent cook, with some particularly sought after cookies and brownies in my repertoire.
When did you first decide to become a writer? What led to the decision?
BW: Like most writers, I’ve been making up stories all my life, but I made the conscious decision to become at writer when I turned 40 years old. I figured I was about half done with my life, and if I was going to have a writing career I had better get on with it.
What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?
BW: I love disappearing into a story. I prefer to write when I am home alone, and I can really get inside the heads of my characters and get the feeling for a particular setting that I am creating. It’s the same thing I love about reading and watching movies, except that I get to control when the story ends.
Describe your new book.
BW: Megan’s Christmas Knight is a romantic Christmas fantasy. Megan is a woman running away from her life because of something terrible she has done. She is rescued by a mysterious stranger, Nick, who sends her on a quest that helps her learn about love and forgiveness. At the same time that he is helping her he begins to question some of his own rules about his life, especially the ones that keep him alone.
Who are some of your favorite authors, and why?
BW: I love Diana Gabaldon and read her Outlander books with a pen in hand to underline her descriptions or dialogue that I consider extremely well written. I have done the same with George R. R. Martin, although I am a little put off by the violence in the Song of Ice and Fire books. I also frequently return to the classics like Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, and I am an avid Tolkien fan.
What are some of your favorite holiday stories (books, movies, TV specials), and what do you love about them?
BW: There are so many—how do I pick? Let’s start with A Christmas Carol in many of its versions, from Alistair Sim to Mickey Mouse. I also read it every year. I can recite “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by heart. I just watched Elf again tonight. I connect with the Grinch both in cartoon and live action formats. I love the book Polar Express more than the movie, but the movie is good too. I have also managed to acquire a copy of The Nutcracker featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov. I could go on and on. What do I love about them? I love the idea of the magic of Christmas, of people coming together with love and hope and generosity and kindness, and I am particularly drawn to stories of transformation. That is the inspiration for Megan’s Christmas Knight. What better time for a troubled woman to experience the miracles of love and forgiveness than at the most magical time of the year?
Also, I tried to work in as many allusions to these works as I could. At the beginning, for example, “The wind charged in like a freight train, whipping dried leaves into Meg’s face with broad, open palms” calls to mind “as the dried leaves before the wild hurricane fly” from A Visit from St. Nicholas.” My character, Nick, is a man of few words just like St. Nick “spoke not a word but went straight to his work.” I dropped these little references throughout the book.
As a reader, what would you like to see more of? Conversely, what would you like to see less of?
BW: I like for my heroes to be heroic, so I am always looking for characters I can get behind and cheer for, men and women who rise above their common place in the world. As far as what I would like to see less of, I think there is an audience for every kind of writing, but for myself, I lose patience with a book that sacrifices the story to achieve a more immediate but short-lived impact.