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 Our Interview with Bethany Pierce


 

What inspired you to write Amy Inspired?
 
The story was inspired by many of my experiences as an English teacher in Ohio.  I was getting ready to leave the university I’d been a part of for seven years, when my editor at the time approached me with the idea of writing a story about a young professor in small-town America, a sort of Bridget Jones goes academic.  The idea of creating an imaginary town that mirrored the one I’d grown to love appealed to me, especially while I was in the painful process of saying good-bye. The fictional Copenhagen campus and its colorful characters gave me a kind of home away from home during the emotional upheaval of moving, marrying, and starting over in a new place.

Any deleted scenes you’d like to share now? (Please set it up before you share it.)

Honestly I can’t think of a single deleted scene I miss, which is a real testament to my editors. There are some very poorly written sections we deleted, but I’ll spare us all the embarrassment.  

What is your favorite holiday recipe?

I love making and eating buckeyes, which are little peanut butter/chocolate candies that resemble the fruit of the Ohio Buckeye tree.  In our family, the making of buckeyes resembles a factory assembly line: We roll the endless batter into balls, methodically freeze the rows upon rows of candy centers, then sit around the table and dip the peanut butter middles in the hot chocolate while watching long marathons of holiday movie favorites.  Dad participates, inasmuch as we need quality control, eating whatever’s lopsided or marred (a task we are thankful for because we take inordinate pride in the perfection of our Christmas goodies).

Can you share a favorite memory from the holidays?

I have too many to list, but my thoughts go first to my late grandparents. I loved waiting for them to arrive in their huge blue van, a veritable Christmas sleigh weighed down with gifts we would stack into fortresses in the living room.  I remember waking up before sunrise Christmas morning to sit with my brother and sister on either side of Grandma, vying for her attention, watching fat snowflakes fall outside in the yellow light of the streetlamp.  We would talk her ear off, and she loved it.

My grandmother made Christmas magical„Ÿshe was the most childlike of all of us in her wonder. She was the one who ran into the living room, breathless, just to see Santa at the end of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. She was also the one who clapped at a particularly good gift.   

What is your favorite Christmas song/hymn?

Silent Night.  But I’ll confess, I’m a Christmas music junkie„Ÿanything from the old Amy Grant specials to the most jangling rendition of All I Want for Christmas.  I’m usually very finicky about my music, especially in my studio, but this time of year, if I didn’t share the space with another artist more discerning in his musical taste, I’d play holiday easy-listening for hours. 

 

Does your family have any holiday traditions?

We’re in a weird place now, just two years out of losing my grandmother, of having to reinvent old traditions that revolved around her home and her lively spirit. We’ve let some of the traditions go with her passing, and we’ve let others take a rest (it’s too hard yet to reenact them without her), but there’s one tradition in particular I look forward to reviving: Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, my brother and sister and I would dutifully wait in line at the local shopping mall to sit on Santa’s lap, assure him we had been good, and smile for the camera. It was a tradition that started when we were babies, and one we kept up into our twenties, until the pictures included boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses. 

At Christmastime, we line the picture cards up chronologically and flip through them one by one, marveling at how we’ve changed, as if we haven’t seen the same cards every year for twenty-seven years.  I think all three of us secretly look forward to renewing this particular holiday routine when we have our own children. 

What is your favorite holiday movie?

White Christmas, hands down. The sparkly, cheerful quality of this musical colors my childhood memories. It is an artifact of the optimism that characterized my grandparents’ generation and the Technicolor childhood memories they gave me.  Whenever I hear Bing Crosby sing White Christmas, I feel overwhelmingly homesick and happy all at once.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

A much trickier question. Usually holidays are an excuse for me to catch up on the stack of books school or deadlines keep me from finishing, so I don’t know that I have a favorite holiday book, but just the fact that the holidays are one my favorite times to read, curled up in an afghan by the fire, full of good food and just sleepy enough to feel content.

 

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