Welcome back to Kimbely’s Musing, Sarah.
Please tell us about your book.
Where Treetops Glisten is a Christmas novella collection which follows three siblings through World War II. In my story, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, fighter pilot Lt. Pete Turner is running on empty, but coming home for Christmas doesn’t help him fill his tank. When he encounters a precocious little girl in need of his friendship, can he convince her widowed mother, Grace Kessler, that he’s no longer the bully she once knew? And will Pete’s Christmas gift fill the empty places in their hearts?
Will you share a short excerpt?
Friday, December 3, 1943
The door of Loeb’s department store opened, and Pete held the door for two ladies burdened with packages. When they thanked him, he said, “You’re welcome” but couldn’t smile. How could he with that infernal song billowing through the open door? “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” made false promises, as if home could make you whole again. Baloney.
He let the door swing shut. Ahead of him, a little girl in a red coat pressed her face to the window. Pete stopped behind her to see the display.
A Christmas tree. A fake Santa Claus, and fake elves playing in fake snow. A wooden airplane that almost looked like a B-17 Flying Fortress, but not quite—too fat. A baby doll. A teddy bear. Lots of Built-Rite paper dollhouses and paper towns and picture puzzles, made right here in Lafayette.
Years ago, Pete and his brother, Alfie, filled with wonder, had pressed their noses to this same window. Golden-haired golden boy Alfie. Black-haired black sheep Pete. Was the display this cheesy back then? Granted, they had toys made with metal and rubber back when he was a boy.
Back when he was a boy? When had he turned into an old man?
The little girl in front of him hadn’t moved. She belonged on the cover of a Christmas toy catalog with her red coat, her red mittens flat on the glass, and two little brown braids sticking out from under her red hat. Twenty-five years earlier, Pete would have tugged one of those braids just to hear her squeal.
“Please,” she said, her voice no more than a whisper. “Please, Lord. Please.”
For the first time in months, Pete felt something. A twinge in his chest. He remembered that longing for the perfect gift, the hope of seeing it under the tree, the joy of ripping off paper to discover his dreams fulfilled.
Her breath fogged the window. “Please, God. I promise I’ll be good. I promise.”
His lips twitched with the same emotion. How many times had he made that promise in vain?
“Do you see something you’d like for Christmas?” he asked.
The girl pushed back from the glass and met Pete’s gaze in the window reflection. For her sake he had to smile, so he located dead muscles and coaxed them to do their job.
Slowly she faced him. She had wide greenish-blue eyes and a button nose. A cute little thing. She reminded him of his old friend Scooter at that age, except Scooter never wore braids or a red bonnet with a bow under his chin.
A grin revealed two missing teeth—one of her front teeth and one farther back. The asymmetry made her even cuter.
Pete’s smile felt more natural now. “Well, do you? Do you see something you’d like for Christmas?”
She studied him with a satisfied smile as if he were one of the toys on display. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
Thanks for sharing that with us. It makes me want to read it! How long did it take you to write Where Treetops Glisten?
This story flew together for me. The whole story came to me in a rush at Christmastime, and I had the complete outline down in a week. When I was finally able to write the story, I wrote it in only a month. This is unusual for me, but I had far less research to do for the story, which helped considerably.
How did you fall into writing? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did it come to you later in life?
Falling into writing is about right. I’m a pharmacist and never planned to write novels. But in 2000, a story idea came to me in a dream and it wouldn’t let me go. It quickly became apparent that God really wanted me to write, so I obeyed—with much fear and trembling.
If the story is set in a real location, have you visited it?
The Turner family in Where Treetops Glisten lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and my entire story is set there. Cara Putman, one of my co-authors, lives there, and I had the privilege of spending a few days with Cara and her delightful family. Cara gave me the full tour, showing me all the sites on my story list. We toured her friend’s house which we used for our fictional family, found a charming Victorian for Grace and Linnie to live in, sampled the wares at McCord’s Candies, and walked across the bridge over the Wabash River. We also spent time at the Lafayette Library, where I pored over the 1943 Lafayette phone book and issues of the Lafayette Journal and Courier, which were fascinating! I loved seeing the sites and finding the color to make the story come to life.
What is next for you?
My next novel, Through Waters Deep, comes out summer of 2015, the first book in the Waves of Freedom series. In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, their friendship promises to blossom into something more. But could a deeper friendship rip them apart?
Thanks for sharing, Sarah!
Sarah is giving away one copy of her book. If you’d like to be entered for a chance to win Where Treetops Glisten please leave a comment for Sarah.
Rules: The Drawing is open to USA and Canadian mailing addresses only. The drawing closes midnight Pacific time, Oct. 19th 2014. The winner will be notified via email the following day by me, so be sure to keep an eye out and even check your spam just in case. The winner has until Oct. 26 to reply or forfeit the book. No new winner will be drawn. Void where prohibited by law.
Sarah Sundin is the author of six historical novels, including In Perfect Time (Revell, August 2014) as well as a novella in Where Treetops Glisten. Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. You can find her at http://www.sarahsundin.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SarahSundinAuthor