Thursday, August 22, 2013

In celebration of the release of A Pioneer Christmas, I'm hosting talented author, Michelle Ule today. I will be giving away a copy of the book signed by all nine authors!!! Leave a comment below for a chance to win.
Michelle is the best-selling author of several novels and novellas, including Bridging Two Hearts and “The Dogtrot Christmas” from the NYTimes best-selling A Log Cabin Christmas Collection. Here, she talks about her upcoming novella “A Gold Rush Christmas” from A Pioneer Christmas, releasing September 1, 2013. For more information about Michelle and her books, visit her website:


What made you decide to write about your period in time?

When I heard the collection's title, I tried to think of a time period that would appeal to readers. I figured many writers would write about the Oregon Trail.


I remembered, though, how fascinated I was by the Alaskan Gold Rush stories when my family traveled to Alaska. In particular, I thought of that horrific photo of the line of men climbing over Chilkoot Pass. I imagined a story about a family caught in that line, stepping out on December 25 to celebrate Christmas. "The Gold Rush Christmas" didn't quite turn out that way!


How is Christmas celebrated in your family and what effect did it have on your writing this story?


My husband is a retired naval officer, and we've celebrated Christmas in a number of different cultures. We liked to use aspects of the local customs when we lived in different spots--Christmas in Hawaii, for example, included a crèche made of a coconut shell. While composing The Gold Rush Christmas, I tried to find an element of Alaskan culture people would recognize, but which could tell the Christmas story. I found a fantastic one!


What research did you do to authenticate Christmas celebrations in your story?

"The Gold Rush Christmas" includes a Christmas totem pole. I explored the Internet for information, and discovered a missionary in Alaska had actually made one! We corresponded and he asked me to used his description because he'd spent years ensuring it was culturally accurate.


When you dreamed up your story idea, what came first, the time period, the story, the location?


The Alaska location.


What was the "germ" of your story idea and how did you flesh it out?


I wanted to write about the gold rush and I liked the idea of a pair of boy-girl twins and the boy next door sailing to Alaska and accidentally ending up on a ship filled with gold seekers. I had to come up with a reason why they'd be sailing, and turned it into a quest for a missing missionary father.


Would you like to have been there?


No. The conditions were awful, the con men were terrible and many people suffered.


What aspects of your characters are reflected in yours?


My brother is very tall and pushy. He likes to order me around and I've often resented it.  :-)


Have you been to the locations in which your story is set?


Yes, my family sailed on the Alaskan ferry to Skagway out of Washington 22 years ago. We even slept on deck in our sleeping bags! I pulled on our experiences and the stories we enjoyed while traveling there.


What surprised you the most about your story?


The wonderful surprising story of how God worked in the prostitutes of Skagway! I incorporated it into my tale.


Would you have made a good pioneer?


While I am the mother of three Eagle scouts and have spent a lot of time camping, I'm a coward. I don't sleep well on the ground and I don't like to be dirty. So, no.  :-)


Were any of your ancestors pioneers? If so, where and when?


Many. I'm in awe of the strength of character they exhibited. Most were on the north American continent by 1701 and moved west until they reached the Pacific Ocean. I'm thankful for their sacrifices. My first book, a family history, is called Pioneer Stock in their honor.


What spiritual themes did you deliberately incorporate into your story? Which ones did you discover later?  :-)


I've always loved the story of Nehemiah and the famous line "I am doing a good work and I cannot come down." I liked the idea of someone going off on an adventure and sacrificing for their family, but being determined to stay in that work even when things became difficult.


In writing the story, I learned much about the fortitude of a young man wanting to prove himself, even when he discovered his own prejudices. I love how even a seminary graduate needed to be reminded, gently, that he sometimes needed to be discomforted to do the job God called him to do. I love the spiritual growth going on in "The Gold Rush Christmas."

A Pioneer Christmas Collection Giveaway!
Comment below to enter. Every day that you leave a comment is a new entry. At the end of our 12 Days of Christmas Promotion, two winners will be chosen at random. First prize is a $50 gift certificate from The second prize (but best in my opinion) is an autographed copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection signed by all 9 Authors!  
Each day you have a new opportunity to enter! You may comment all you like, but only one entry per day will be counted.




Noela Nancarrow said...

Fascinating interview Marcia and Michelle, thanks. I LOVE reading the story behind the story!!
Interesting seeing that pic of all those miners etc climbing Chilkroot during the Gold Rush.
And yep, I don't think I'd make a good pioneer either... they were certainly a tough bunch of people, but I guess they had to be! :)

Marcia Gruver said...

Noela, don't you love her fascinating take on the pioneer experience? That picture makes me shiver just to look at it. ;)

Gail Borden said...

Wonderful interview Marcia. The book sounds so fascinating. I can't wait to purchase one. I especially can't wait to read your story, but Michelle's sounds great too:)

Marcia Gruver said...

All of the nine stories are great, Gail. You'll love reading them. Thanks for commenting, and now you're entered in my contest. :)

Kimberly Miller said...

Wow...The story sounds absolutely thrilling. Ever since I was a kid, I loved hearing about the Alaskan Gold Rush. A cant wait to read this story. I especially like how the story line includes a twin boy and girl. I cant wait to see if the missing missionary is recovered? :)

Jan Christiansen said...

Don't know how I missed this, but just checking in for the first day. The book sounds delightful! Will be looking back at the days I missed and checking in for the upcoming posts. Thanks!

Terrie Coleman said...

This sounds wonderful. My great grandmother was born in 1880 and I always loved to hear her stories from childhood. I kept her awake many nights listening to her stories - lying on a feather bed. Sweet memories. I'd love to read the book.

Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Kimberly. Thanks so much for joining us. Best of luck on the drawing!

Marcia Gruver said...

And just think, Jan. . .there are eight more great stories in A Pioneer Christmas. These books will make excellent Christmas presents or stocking stuffers.

Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Terrie! Gosh, your comment made me feel nostalgic. I loved hearing my mom, aunts, and granny telling those great old stories. Thanks for checking in, and good luck on winning a copy of the book.

Wendy Newcomb said...

I love these Novellas and this one has stories by some great author. Thank you for the chance to win it.


Julianna Rowe said...

What a lovely interview! The book promises to me unforgettable and I cannot wait to read it. I truly enjoy reading the history behind stories. Thank you!

Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Wendy. You're right, I'm in amazing company in this collection, and I'm thrilled to be numbered in their midst. You're entered once in the contest now. Be sure and check back every day. Each day's comment counts as a new entry. Only one per day though. Good luck!

Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Julianna! I know you'll enjoy this great collection of stories. Check back tomorrow for the next interview in the series. Good luck in the contest!

sm said...

I really like totem poles. On an Alaskan cruise in Sitka, I took pictures of all the totem poles in the national park there. I also got many totem pictures in Victoria, CANADA. Would love to win the Christmas book-one of my favorite seasons.
sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to reading the Pioneer Christmas Collection.

Katie J.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Michelle. I have relatives now living in Alaska. I would love to read your story in this book to continue the story. Thanks Marcia for doing this.
Sure hope to be a winner. MAXIE

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