Sandra Merville Hart has visited me before but as an author of historical fiction novels. But her short story, “Not This Year'”, is a real change of pace for her. Welcome back, Sandy!
You write historical fiction, stories usually set during the Civil War. What inspired you to write “Not This Year”, a story set in the 1980’s?
That’s a great question, Jennifer.
I’ve always loved reading stories and novels set during Christmas. It’s been a dream of mine to either write a Christmas novel or be part of a Christmas collection, so I jumped at the opportunity to write a story for Mt. Zion Ridge Press’s “Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path”.
“Not This Year” is inspired by a person who is very dear to my heart. I couldn’t talk to him to check every detail, but it’s based on a true story. I selected the 1980s setting because that is the timeframe of the events.
Did you find any special challenges to writing a story set in more contemporary times?
Since I write fiction set in the 1800s, I often use language of that time period to lend authenticity. I noticed myself using words a couple of times that would have been considered “old-fashioned” even in the eighties when the story was set. Of course, I changed them.
Though my first love is writing historical novels, this contemporary setting was a refreshing change.
Why did you write from the point of view of Ed, the father of the family?
This story was inspired by the character of a hard-working husband and father doing his best to support his family in difficult circumstances so it had to be Ed’s story. Telling it from another perspective might have lessened its impact.
What excited you the most about this story while you were writing it?
This story flowed out of me. It was easy to write. Because I write Civil War novels, research before I ever begin writing can take months. And then there’s constant research and fact-checking while writing.
This story was a nice change of pace for that reason.
Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?
I love so many traditions at Christmas that it’s difficult to choose!
However, since we are talking about a Christmas book today, I have to admit that I look forward to reading Christmas novels and collections every year. I read old favorites and find new treasures. Reading holiday stories begins for me in November—if I can wait that long. 😊
I also love watching all the Christmas movies and listening to Christmas songs. All of these put me in the holiday mood.
Great to have you stop by again, Sandy!
From Christmas fiction off the beaten path:
“Not This Year” by Sandra Merville Hart. Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family.
About Sandra Merville Hart
Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Sandra Merville Hart loves to uncover little-known yet fascinating facts about our American history to include in her stories. A Musket in My Hands, a Civil War romance where two sisters join the Confederate army with the men they love, is 2019 Serious Writer Medal Fiction Winner and a 2019 Selah Award Finalist. A Rebel in My House, set during the historic Battle of Gettysburg, won the 2018 Silver Illumination Award and second place in 2018 Faith, Hope and Love Readers’ Choice Award. Her debut Civil War Romance, A Stranger on My Land, was IRCA Finalist 2015. Her novella, Surprised by Love in “From the Lake to the River” is set during the 1913 flood in Troy, Ohio. Trail’s End, in “Smitten Novella Collection: The Cowboys” is set in the wild cattle town of Abilene, Kansas. Not This Year, her story in the “Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path,” released in the fall of 2019.
Find her on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.