Influenced by books like The Little Princess, and The Secret Garden Lisa’s early books were heavy on governesses and creepy boarding schools. Though she’s mostly all grown-up now, she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling new adventures—starting a daughter-work church and raising two precocious kids. Her other full-time job is managing medical malpractice litigation for a large health system in Ohio and Indiana. Whew! A real go-getter!
Lisa, tell us how you got involved with the Mistletoe Memories project.
A couple of years ago, Gina, Jen, and I put on our brainstorming hats and tried to come up with several ideas that we thought might work as novella collections. We racked up a bunch of them. Some of which are still in our back pockets!
That's really neat. It's always great to have some spare ideas saved up for an emergency. Your co-authors are Carla Olson Gade, Gina Welborn and Jennifer AlLee. How much did you have to interact with them to make this collection a coherent whole?
Because these stories are very loosely related there aren't really any overlapping characters, etc. The idea of making them cohesive was more abstract. We tried to keep the feel/tone of the stories similar. It helped that they are Christmas stories and they all kind of deal with the idea of family and what makes a family.
That's a great way to tie the stories together without putting too many constraints on the individual authors. So how did the idea for the collection come about?
I think the idea of the house being the cohesive element was Gina's, and I know she came up with the setting on Schooley's Mountain. We invited Carla to join us and she came up with a great idea. The proposal sat with Barbour for well over a year before they offered a contract.
A true collaboration. How wonderful! I understand Schooley’s Mountain is a real place. Where is it and why did the four of you decide to set your stories there?
Schooley's Mountain is a real place in New Jersey, very close to the border of New York and not very far from New York City. For decades it was a very popular vacation spot because of the chalybeate springs that were found there. Resorts sprang up and people would spend weeks there, especially in the summer, taking the waters. It was a small town but had lots of famous people visiting and I think that was part of the appeal. Kind of the best of both worlds. Truth to tell though, I have no idea how Gina stumbled upon it!
Sounds like the perfect place for a story collection set over a long period of time. Lots of interesting history to choose from. So tell us about your story, "Midnight Clear." What makes your hero and heroine perfect for each other?
They're perfect for each other because they've were one another's first loves. They have been separated for several years when we meet them, but no one in the world understands the Teddy as well as Olympia does. And vice versa.
I love that. There's something especially sweet about the love of a lifetime. And why did you set your story in 1910?
1910 ended up being the perfect year to help both cause and resolve some of the conflict in the story. And that's all I'm going to say about that!
Ah, so there's a big secret in the story. That's intriguing, and guaranteed to keep your readers turning pages. How closely linked are the four stories in the book?
They are really linked only by the house which is a a very important element in each story.
It must be interesting to see how that setting changes as time goes by from story to story. And how did the writing process compare with other fiction you've published?
I really enjoy writing novellas. They are a quick project and because the writing is quick it tends to be fairly intense. Writing a novella is definitely an exercise in being concise!
What are you working on now? More novellas?
Now I'm working on a proposal for a Steampunk YA series. And once I shove that out the door I'm going to be tackling a Heartsong set in Tuxedo Park, NewYork. Which is not all that far from Schooley's Mountain.
Oooh, I've heard about your Steampunk idea. It sounds fabulous. Can't wait to read it. And more New York, too, I see. Wonderful. Okay, before you go, tell us something about yourself that almost nobody knows.
My husband is the first and only man I've ever kissed.
Awwww! That's so sweet. Thank you, Lisa, for telling us about your story and about what you have coming out next. It's been a pleasure!
Okay, readers, is there anything you would like to ask Lisa about "Midnight Clear" or her other projects?
DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, as well as Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and The Legacy in the Attic, contemporary mysteries. Her new series of Drew Farthering Mysteries debuted in the Summer of 2013 with Rules of Murder, to be followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado in 2014 from Bethany House. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats.