A pleasure to meet today with Jan Scarbrough, Janet Eaves and Magdalena Scott. Thanks for telling us about your Legendary Christmas Past. We hear you have an e-book promotion going on at Amazon?
Jan: Our publisher Turquoise Morning Press has bundled six Christmas novellas that are on sale until the end of December for only 99 cents. It’s called A Legendary Christmas Past Boxed Set. http://amzn.to/17luvoI
The six novellas were written by three authors—Janet Eaves, Magdalena Scott, and myself, Jan Scarbrough—and they were set in a fictitious town of Legend, Tennessee. The neat part about this bundle is that the novellas take place in the 1940’s, the 1960’s and the 1970’s. So they are “historical” even though they deal with very recent history.
These Christmas novellas are set in Legend, Tennessee
· If Only In My Dreams, 1944 and 1945, by Janet Eaves
· A Groovy Christmas, 1968, and Not Quite Christmas, 1969, by Jan Scarbrough
· Under The Mistletoe, 1975, and The Holly and the Ivy, 1978, by Magdalena Scott
How did you come to write stories set in the same fictitious town?
Janet: Maddie James, Magdalena Scott, Jan Scarbrough, and myself, Janet Eaves carried on our friendship online via email. We mainly talked about our writing projects. After playing around and creating character names from our first pet and the first street we lived on, we decided to create a story about each of these characters, but as a twist, they all had to live in the same small town. And to twist it even further, we each took a season—fall, winter, spring and summer.
That was the beginning of months of collaboration as towns have their own personalities, peculiarities, and of course landmarks. But first, our town needed a name.
At the time I was sitting in my home office discussing this project via email, and I glanced up at the extremely large map of the United States on my office wall… and there, down in the right corner, was the map’s Legend. So I suggested Legend as the name of our town and we liked it… Now that our town had a name it needed a location, and it seems it took only seconds for us all to agree that Legend would be in Tennessee, sitting at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, which is an area many people recognize because if its tourist appeal.
Do you have other books set in Legend, Tennessee?
Jan: Yes. Our publisher has bundled the non-Christmas novels and novellas into a nine book set called Love in a Small Town. Again, it’s on sale until the middle of December for 99 cents. We’re so pleased it’s reached the top 100 Amazon Bestseller list in Romance.
Janet: Yes. The boxed set bundle of Love in a Small Town starts with the first four books I was telling you about. In Claiming the Legend, the opening book in the series, the town is detailed as my character rolls into Legend for the first time. Streets, businesses, and directions give a sense of place in this seemingly sleepy town. My heroine heads for the local Bed and Breakfast, owned by the heroine of Bed, Breakfast and You, written by Maddie James. This lovely home is also described as is Maddie’s character, and the B&B itself. So you see it took lots of collaboration between all four of us to pull off a series written by four different authors using the same setting and recurring characters.
But before all the details of our stories could solidify, we needed a detailed map of the town. This map took me weeks to build and is continually updated whenever one of us has a new story that requires their location to be land-marked.
Why did you choose to set your Christmas romances in the past?
Jan: A year earlier, we had already written a set of four Christmas novellas at the request of our publisher. These e-books are bundled in A Legendary Christmas Boxed Set.
Magdalena: When we decided to do Ladies of Legend Christmas romances set in the past, we each chose a somewhat recent decade.
Jan: Maddie James was going to take the 1950’s but work commitments and other book deadlines didn’t give her time to participate the following year.
Janet, why choose to write about the 1940’s?
Janet: Christmas near the end of WWII was all about love, struggle, fear, hardship, and remembrance. Gifts were hand-made items of necessity such as scarves, socks, and maybe even a sweater or blanket. Food and nearly every item one could purchase at the time was limited by the rationing stamps allotted to each family. Families leaned on their faith, each other, and awaited news from outside of their homes by word of mouth, or if they were fortunate enough, a radio.
But as hard as it was to survive, people persevered, they pulled together as a nation, and they fell in love. The two stories set in Legend during this period reflect the hardships and the joys of life as the war wound down, and the danger of falling in love when the life of the one you love could so quickly end.
Jan, why write about the 60’s?
Jan: As a teenager during that time, I had seen it through the eyes of teenage angst. Going back to research those two years, I discovered that so much happened—the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, riots in Chicago, and a flight around the moon for 1968. In 1969, people were dealing with times that were changing even faster. In both novellas, I write about characters who confront the change. In A Groovy Christmas, the heroine is sorry she’s never burned her bra and comes face-to-face with her blossoming sexuality. In Not Quite Christmas, I flip it, making my hero straight-laced and my heroine a hippie who has been to Woodstock. I had fun weaving the days’ events into the stories while setting the characters in a typical, small town where nothing changes.
My two novellas in this boxed set are prequels to my other two Legend novellas The Reunion Game and Santa’s Kiss. I’ve created a mini-series within the main Legend series based upon my first two characters Jane and Graham in The Reunion Game. Jane’s sister Dawn appears in Santa’s Kiss. You’ll find the love story of Graham’s parents in A Groovy Christmas. Jane and Dawn’s parents have their own love story in Not Quite Christmas. I wasn’t aware of how much readers enjoy series until I wrote these. Now I hope to write more series. It’s fun to piece relationships together like giant puzzles.
Magdalena, why did you choose to set your “historical” romances in the 1970’s?
Magdalena: My husband graduated high school in 1970 and I graduated in 1978; I thought it would be fun to revisit those times. And it was! I pulled out my yearbooks to describe the clothing and hairstyles for the characters, and my husband’s for the times when the characters were looking back. I used Wikipedia to help choose songs to play on the juke box in Jim Bob’s Saloon. Music is so evocative, and I think the juke box adds an important layer to the scenes that take place there. In Under the Mistletoe, the first time Charles McClain goes into Jim Bob’s when he’s visiting Legend, Freddy Fender’s Wasted Days and Wasted Nights starts playing on the juke box, and Charles realizes that’s pretty much what his visit to Legend has been. Of course this is just minutes before he meets Dorothy Robbins, the pretty blonde waitress who wants to go back to college so she can get a good job and leave Legend forever.
So the stories in A Legendary Christmas Past are prequels to your other Ladies of Legend stories? What was that like to write?
Magdalena: It was fun, like when I introduced Martin McClain as a little boy back in the 70s. He is a hero in one of my contemporary Legend stories, Midnight in Legend, TN. And that saloon I mentioned before? It is the building that, years later, Midnight Shelby buys when she moves to Legend from NYC. She converts it into a beautiful store and the actual bar area serves designer coffee.
Writing the prequels also forced me to become more organized. Each of my Legend stories has a McClain as one of the main characters. Because of doing the prequels—Under the Mistletoe and The Holly and the Ivy—I now have a reasonably detailed family tree including birth years for the McClain family and some of the others who become involved in the stories, like Dorothy Robbins of Under the Mistletoe and her friend Jeannie Adams in The Holly and the Ivy. Having that family tree with notes to myself about who does what and in which story is very helpful.
Do you have a favorite story in the boxed set?
Janet: If Only In My Dreams (1945) is one of my all-time favorites. The novella is told through the eyes of the heroine. When she takes on a blind, wounded soldier to help him recuperate, she finds that life is so different from anything she had ever known before, and to break through his shell of pain and loss, she has to let him now see the world through her eyes. In the end, the message, if there is one, is that people are people no matter their disability. To treat them any differently takes away their identity.
What else would you like to tell us about A Legendary Christmas Past Boxed Set?
Magdalena: I love my McClains and Legend. I’m so glad the four of us created this little town where “romance lives next door,” and thrilled that so many readers are discovering it and learning to love it too!
The whole set of a Legendary Christmas Past is available for a short time for only $0.99
Amazon Kindle e-book, 392 pages: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GQ1WQIG
Link to Legend Website: http://www.legendtennessee.com/
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