Today I’m excited to introduce you to my friend and fellow author Katie Reid. Katie is a traditionally published non-fiction author who recently released her first fiction novel, A Very Bavarian Christmas. If you like Hallmark holiday movies, you’re going to LOVE this book! Here’s a little pick-your-brain insight from Katie on her writing process. Enjoy!
1. As a published non-fiction author, what made you decide to write a fiction book?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination but was intimidated by the thought of writing fiction. But after visiting a Christmas store in the summer of 2019, I was inspired to try my hand at writing a holiday rom com novel. The story shaped up quickly and I had so much fun writing it. While I still plan on writing more non-fiction, there is a lightheartedness that comes from writing and reading fiction, and if we ever needed some of that, the time is definitely right now.
2. What surprised you as you were writing A Very Bavarian Christmas?
While writing this novel, there were many surprises. For example, some of the characters became more prominent in the story and others didn’t come to the forefront as much as I
thought they would. It was like I was following the story’s ebb and flow vs. bossing the story around. The characters each had their own strengths and hang-ups and those needed to be
discovered and honored as the story came to life.
3. Like the main character in your book, Holly Noel, Christmas can be a hard time for many. What tips do you have for navigating the holiday season when you’ve experienced hurt or loss?
One of the hardest Christmases my family had was in 2012. We had been waiting to adopt for a while and had just experienced a failed adoption attempt. We celebrated early that year because we needed a little Christmas right that very minute. It was a quieter holiday, as we held our kids close and didn’t do a lot of extras. We needed time to grieve and heal and it helped to keep things simple.
Creating a new tradition or just choosing a few, instead of many, can help refresh your heart during a tough season. Be kind to yourself and be honest with your people about how you are doing. It’s hard to muster up happy when you’re struggling, but it’s also good to be around loved ones who will offer comfort and support.
4. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
My family likes to watch Elf and get a live Christmas tree. I love the smell of the tree, much to the dismay of my allergies. One of my favorite things to do is stare at the Christmas lights at
night, when the house is quiet, as I sip hot cocoa. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to the Christmas Eve service at church and then coming home and enjoying a delicious spread of holiday snacks before we headed to bed. We also were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve.
5. The main character is in her 30’s and single and is struggling with life not turning out like she expected. What advice do you have for those in a similar situation?
I was one of the last of my college friends to get married, and I understand in part how it feels to feel left out and left behind. Even though my circumstances were different than expected, I’m glad I didn’t settle for Mr. Wrong. There can be undue pressure on singles that you need to find a man…but fulfillment comes from God first and foremost. Don’t delay in living out your God-given purposes and also don’t expect a future spouse to be your everything.
When I was first married, I tried to make my husband Adam my everything, which was unhealthy…no one can live up to that, except God. Whether single or married, God is our true source of satisfaction and He is with us and for us, even when things don’t turn out how we envisioned. One of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means God with us. Even when we feel lonely or disappointed, this truth brings comfort…that God is with us through it all.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” -Matthew 1:23
6. There are two original songs in the novel, “Everything” and “The Yes of Christmas.” Can you tell us the story behind these songs?
One night when I was writing, the song “Everything” poured onto the page like a divine download. I can be prone to dramatics, but honestly, I was moved to tears through the lyrics and the tender moment that Holly experiences through this song. One of the lines from it is: “The way to freedom is not out of reach, turn the knob let yourself be found.” At this moment in
the book, Holly starts to turn the knob that opens the door to her journey toward healing.
“The Yes of Christmas” was the theme song from a church play I wrote in 2015. The idea behind it is that thousands of years ago, Jesus said “yes” to us—leaving the comforts of heaven and putting on flesh—by saying “yes” to Christmas and ultimately “yes” to the cross, so that we could be saved. It was pure joy to hear the kids from our church singing their hearts out to this song—a hope-filled message for the weary world.
In A Very Bavarian Christmas, students with special needs, at a local non-profit, sing this song. Holly is deeply moved by the idea of saying “yes” to Christmas as she is invited to live with
open hands when it comes to things she cannot change.
7. Addressing issues of the past can help us move forward in freedom. How has that been true for you and for the main character in A Very Bavarian Christmas?
I didn’t realize how stuck I was, in several areas of my life, until my life purpose coach, Darlene Larson, helped me recognize that in order to move forward, I needed to address some difficult places. Another friend helped me recognize that I needed to allow myself permission to grieve things, like our failed adoption attempt, and not try to just muscle through.
In A Very Bavarian Christmas, fragmented relationships at home and a failed start-up in the city contribute to the weight Holly carries. She eventually decides to face the past so she can start living more fully in the present and look forward to the future. It is not an easy choice or process, but a necessary one as she comes to terms with that which she tried to avoid for decades.
8. What is your hope for your debut novel?
My not-so-secret hope is that this story will move from the page to the screen and become a holiday Christmas movie. Wouldn’t that be fun?!
My hope for the readers is that they will experience lightheartedness and a reprieve from the cares of life as they journey with these characters from Bavarian Falls. I hope they see themselves within the story and even view the characters as friends. I also hope they are surprised by a few of the twists and turns in this novel.
9. A theme of A Very Bavarian Christmas is laying down expectations and living with open hands. How does this play out with the characters and in your own life?
In A Very Bavarian Christmas, Holly is faced with a choice: to live with clenched fists or open hands…to cling to her 5-year-plan or to pivot into a new possibility. Throughout the pages,
you’ll discover what she chooses and why. Laying down expectations is not my forte, and opening my hands in surrender is even harder. Yet, when I do, I experience more freedom and less stress. I started writing this book after a major disappointment. It served as a distraction and an escape. I smiled most of the time as I wrote because writing fiction delighted my heart. When faced with a detour, a new route opened up and it led straight down Mistletoe Lane.
10. As a busy mom of five and an author, how do you find time to write?
It’s not easy that’s for sure, but with some creative finagling it can be done. Ask your family if they are willing to pick up some of the slack as you write and let them know the deadline for
your project. It helps to reward your people with a treat or special outing once you get a chapter done. I often read portions of the book at the dinner table so my family could hear what was happening, and I could proofread at the same time.
You may have to get up early, or like me, stay up late—while the house is quiet. And sometimes you just write when it’s noisy. But bit by bit you can make progress. I wrote a lot of this novel last November, during National Novel Writing Month. It was a busy time but the bulk of my writing was concentrated into a month. I used their technology to track my progress and
showed my kids how close I was to the finish line.
11. What advice do you have for those who are interested in writing?
My first piece of advice is to find a few friends who write or join a writer’s group to encourage you, offer feedback, and help you stay on track.
I highly recommend getting a copy of the Ministry to Business Guide, and poring over the sections on writing. I also recommend attending a writer’s conference like Flourish Writers or the Speak Up Conference to meet other writers, receive training, and find out what it takes to see your book idea from concept to completion.
I also offer coaching for writers, through my Inspiration Doula coaching calls in order to help you bring life to your creative projects.
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I think we need a little Christmas right this very minute, don’t you?! Good news—Katie is offering a free book club kit for you and your gal pals when you purchase two or more copies of A Very Bavarian Christmas. This book will lift your spirits and infuse you with hope at the end of a hard year. Learn more about A Very Bavarian Christmas and access the book club kit at averybavarianchristmas.com!