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.