A Conversation with Donna VanLiere

Monday, November 23, 2009


Donna VanLiere is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas Hope series, with over 2 million books in print. Her next novel in this series, The Christmas Secret (304p, St.Martins Press), combines the heartbreaking with the humorous to tell a story that illuminates the true meaning of Christmas.

Q. What inspired the storyline of The Christmas Secret?

A. I know several single mothers (my own sister is a single mother) and I watch how they struggle and try to juggle every aspect of life. A couple of those women have had horrendous ex-husbands and I've sat alongside of them as they cry and try to cope with all the emotions involved in that fractured relationship. Being a single mother is the most difficult job on earth!

Q. You deal with some difficult subjects: grief, heartbreak, even drug addiction. How do you handle writing about these topics?

A. I pull from real people who have walked down similar roads. My husband and I are currently walking alongside a good friend in rehab whose life has been rocked by drug and alcohol addiction for nearly 15 years. Every conversation is punctuated with raw emotion and overwhelming feelings of failure and loss. We try our best to offer hope and encouragement on this painful road and this is what Christine does in The Christmas Secret. She doesn't have the right words to say but she offers hope and belief in a person's life who has lost all hope and in the same way, several characters offer that same hope to Christine in her situation.

Q. Can you discuss the role of coincidence and connectedness in this novel?

A. Life is all about connectedness. In The Christmas Secret the character of Gloria says, "At some point you figure out that we're all here to help one another." People who have experienced the greatest pain and heartbreak are usually the first to pass along help to someone else. Selfish, self-absorbed people have no concept of empathy or lending a hand but you can always count on someone who has gone through great loss because it's the wound of that loss that connects them to you and you to someone else.

Q. Is there a message you want your readers to come away with?

A. Life is full of obstacles and on occasion we'll come up against a boulder in the road which can't be moved by our own power or will. Sometimes those boulders take help from lots of people along the way. Our greatest gift to them and to ourselves is to let them walk alongside of us and help move the boulder because that's when we'll discover the gift beneath it.

Q. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

A. Being with my husband and children. Last Christmas we went to the Nashville Rescue Mission and served dinner to the homeless. My 8-year-old still talks about that! We hope to do that every year so the kids will know life's not all about them. God gave his greatest gift at Christmas. We try to show them that we need to give back as well.

**Published with permission from St.Martins**

Note - In addition, Lifetime will be premiering the TV movie of The Christmas Hope, and showing all of the previous movies made from this series all on one day - December 13! In December, LifetimeMovieNetwork.com will post an excerpt from THE CHRISTMAS SECRET and an original essay by VanLiere. The site will also sponsor a contest to win signed copies of the "Christmas Hope" books. Details will be forthcoming on LifetimeMovieNetwork.com.
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2 People said

  1. I love Donna Van Liere's The Christmas Shoes, great novel and the I always catch the tv movie version whenever it's on! Looking forward to reading her latest book!

  2. Reading your post brought it all home to me. I raised 7 children by myself after 10 years of a horrible marriage. But I got through it because my mother always came by or called everyday to keep me positive or listen to me say it was too much for me. Well I did make it and though my Mom passed away, I did get to tell her how she saved my sanity and kept me going.
    Giving back is what it is all about in this life.
    My children and I would make food baskets and or wrap presents and bring them to our church.
    And today they teach the same giving to their own children.I'm looking forward to reading this book.
    Carol L.


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