The Christmas StarThe Christmas Star
Ace Collins
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Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrificed was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family's tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert's fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father's sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that the boy has never known.
     


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 Our Interview with Ace Collins

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing for about three decades and have penned (can we still use that description?) more than 50 books from more than 20 publishers. I married way above myself 37 years ago. My wife Kathy is a professor at Ouachita Baptist University. We have two sons, one who manages restaurants in Dallas and another who works for Warner Bros. in Hollywood. I collect classic pre World War II cars and seem to also collect unwanted dogs and cats. We have a rescued collie I blog about that was born blind who is amazing. We also have a room in our house that looks like a 1950s Malt Shop complete with a Wurlitzer Juke Box and working nickel Coke machine. My office embraces a 1930s Hollywood theme. And, maybe most importantly, I have never really grown up. I’m still a kid at heart.

What is your favorite Bible verse?  (Translation too, please) Why?

My favorite verses change from stage to stage of life, but right now I am really embracing Matthew 25:35-40. I tell people all the time if they want to live a true Christian life they just need to put this verse into action.
 
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (New Standard American Version)

What was your inspiration to write the The Christmas Star?

I have had several nonfiction bestsellers that embrace Christmas themes and this time of the year (Christmas) is really my favorite. Thus it was a natural concept for me. When Abingdon approached me about the idea of a novel set during the holidays, I latched onto a star theme and actually came up with a half dozen different stories using the star (so I’m hoping I get to create a series with this concept). I chose this one because I felt the idea of a Medal of Honor hanging on a family tree each year really touched on symbolism and sacrifice, thus it offered a wealth of opportunity to combine the American experience with the real meaning of Christmas.

How much research did The Christmas Star take?

Not as much as you might think because I have done so much research on the holiday for my nonfiction books. I also used a setting where my father grew up and where many of my cousins still live, so I know that area very well. There were things to learn such as each branch of the service has its own Medal of Honor design.  I did have to research popular songs of that era, as well as names, clothing styles, cars, etc.

What inspired you to choose the WW11 time frame?

There has probably never been a Christmas that evoked more celebration as well as a sense of loss than December 25, 1945. Millions were being united for the first time in years while hundreds of thousands of other families were realizing their loved ones would never be coming home. Thus the contrast in these viewpoints made for a good look at human emotions.

 

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing The Christmas Star?

In this case it was more about the dynamics and effects of the war on the home front.  I also found hundreds of Christmas cards from this era and in studying them I was surprised that most didn’t say Merry Christmas, a majority said Happy Holidays. It seems that for many back then the cards were meant to include wishing the best on Christmas and New Years. The cards from this era, with their colors, glitter and unique and different sizes were beautiful. I actually bought several boxes of unused 1930s and 1940s cards and will be sending them out to friends and family this holiday season.
 
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story?

It was set over just four days, so a lot had to happen in a short amount of time. In a big city that might be a pretty easy task, but with the setting in a rural area it was much more of a challenge.
 
What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

I have three novels out this fall, so I have been busy. I also have two novels for Abingdon coming out in 2013 that center on modern day issues such as abortion, suicide, DUI, cosmetic surgery, in the context of how each relates to faith. “Darkness Before Dawn” is the first in that series and tells the story a nurse who finds herself alone and pregnant after her husband is killed by a drunk driver. “The Cutting Edge” examines what really makes people beautiful through focusing on a model whose face is slashed in a violent attack and is unknowingly being stalk by her unknown attacker.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading The Christmas Star?
 
Take away value in this book centers on forgiveness, sacrifice and God’s grace. It shows that even people living lives that few seem to notice can make a powerful impact in the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It is so humbling that Abingdon has given me this chance to tell a story from my heart about what is my favorite time of the year. The team this publisher has put together for this project has made this one of the best experiences of my life. I am so blessed to be a part of this team.

 


 

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