I’m delighted to introduce my readers to the very lovely, Candice Sue Patterson. I had the pleasure of meeting Candice at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. What a privilege it was to spend time with her there.
Candice Sue Patterson studied at The Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in southern Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood or baking bread, she’s at her computer working on a new story. Candice writes contemporary romance with threads of nostalgia set in the east coast.
Karla: I, too, studied with The Institute of Children’s Literature! What a fun little bit of trivia to have in common. And I envy your lifestyle in the country. Tell us about how we can find you online.
Candice: My author blog is titled “Hobby Farmer by Day, Author by Night,” where I discuss life on our hobby farm, my family, and various aspects of writing. I also host giveaways, do book reviews, and interview other authors. You can find it at: www.candicesuepatterson.blogspot.com. I also have a blog with my critique partners “The Quid Pro Quills.” Check us out at www.quidproquills.com.
I have a baking and cake design blog, where I share recipes and guide readers step-by-step in how I design my cakes. This blog can be found at: www.candicakes-bakingdesign.blogspot.com
I’m also on Facebook: Candice Sue Patterson
Karla: Where do you write? (What’s your office like?)
Candice: I write at a desk in our living room where I can remain available to my family. I can be found wearing a giant set of headphones to block out any noise coming from the TV. My cat shows his support by sleeping at my feet while I pound away at the keyboard.
Karla: I love how so many write with our family present, noise and all. What is your process? (Spreadsheets, Snowflake, Lists/Outlines, Seat of the pants?)
Candice: I’m definitely a “seat of the pants” writer. While I have a basic plot in mind before I ever sit down at my computer, I let the characters take me where they want to go. I use pictures from magazines or clothing catalogs to help describe my main characters physical descriptions, but their quirks, habits, likes and dislikes appear as the story develops.
My secondary characters surprise me the most, because I don’t always have them in mind until they show up on the screen. They usually become more involved in the story than I’d intended become vital to the main character’s growth.
I also have a title in my mind before I start writing a story, though I know it may not be the final one.
Karla: Tell us about your book. The cover is fabulous! I love the title, too.
Candice: Christmastown, Vermont: where it’s Christmas 365 days a year…
To Darcy Carr the holiday is depressing enough without reliving it every day. Her thriving wreath business and faithful cat are no longer enough to distract her from the pain of her past memories or her current loneliness. Is her frosty neighbor, the only one in town with no Christmas decorations, just another Scrooge, or could he be the one she’s been looking for?
Coppersmith Dean Whitfield hasn’t celebrated Christmas—or anything else—since the death of his wife and unborn child. And he certainly has no desire to carry on the family tradition of crafting a star for the town’s Christmas tree, even if it will benefit a charity. Can Darcy and the joy of the season thaw his frozen heart and help him love again?
Karla: How did your book come to life?
Candice: It started with an article I read about the D. Picking Company in Ohio who still makes copper kettles by hand after over 140 years in business. I love all things nostalgic and knew I wanted to include that in my story. From there, the fictional town of Christmastown, Vermont came to life. One of my favorite childhood memories during the holidays is visiting Nashville, Indiana with blocks full of individually-owned shops decorated for Christmas. That’s what I had pictured in my head as I described the setting, though I embellished Nashville to meet the story’s needs. I do plot out basic things before I start writing, but as I said before, I’m a “seat of the pants” writer. Most things in Bright Copper Kettles came to life as I typed.
Karla: Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
Candice: Though I love Darcy and all her quirkiness, I have to say Dean is my favorite. He’s wounded, grieving, and believes that God has abandoned him which has made him bitter. I believe all Christians at some point go through something similar—knowing God is there, but it feels like He’s not—even if they don’t take it as far as Dean did. The book’s theme is: The God on the mountain (good times) is still God in the valley (hard times). The thing I want readers to take away most is that even when we’re hurting or angry, we can tell God. He already knows what we’re going through. If we tell Him how we feel, it keeps the door of communication with Him open so he can speak to us. If we clam up and don’t pray, even when it’s hard to, we close that door and can allow our emotions control us. Then we become unusable vessels for Him.
Karla: How did you name your characters?
Candice: I had a vision of my character’s physical descriptions before I named them. Dean just felt like a Dean. The name Darcy came to me as I was researching for another story I was working on also. I named Darcy’s twin brother David, since a lot of twins have names that begin with the same letter. I guess I had an obsession with the letter D at the time. It wasn’t until the other day, that I found an old baby name book we’d bought when we were expecting our first son and had put away. Dean, in Old English, means “from the valley.” How fitting! As for Darcy, I had trouble finding the meaning of her name. I did find that “people with this name look for harmony and balance in their lives and respond positively to beautiful things.” That description fits Darcy Carr perfectly.
Karla: Are the characters based on people you know?
Candice: Darcy’s wreath-making occupation was inspired by Nancy Alexander of Ladybug Wreaths. She won a giveaway I hosted last year at the time I was plotting this story. Full details of this will be posted on my blog in December.
I did slip my parents’ names in the book for the mayor and his wife. My mom loves telling this story.
Karla: That’s so nice! I love using people’s names in honor of them. Why will readers enjoy your book?
Candice: Bright Copper Kettles holds a little bit of everything—humor, love, drama. When I read a book, I want to be moved. I want to feel all of my emotions. Therefore, I strive to write this way. I believe it will be a quick yet entertaining read for the holidays.
Karla: Is anything in the book based on your own life?
Candice: In a way, I feel like I lived this story. I’d written the first few chapters when our family was hit with something extremely difficult. I had to remind myself of the very things I was teaching my characters. Then during first edits with my publisher, my dad had a severe stroke at the age of fifty-five, just like Dean’s dad. Again, I had to remind myself that God’s plan is a perfect plan whether I understand it or not.
Gomez was a real cat that my mother-in-law had growing up. I always enjoyed the stories she told me about him and became part of the book.
I worked for the United States Postal Service for eight years, the last four years of my employment as a clerk, selling stamps and mailing packages. So the scene where Dean is in the post office was fun for me to write. In a small town, the post office is the place to go to catch up on all the “news.”
Karla: That is amazing, Candice, because the same things occurred for me in Biker Boots. I actually ended up going through things my characters went through. The Lord works in mysterious ways! What is your favorite scene in the book?
Candice: The scene where Dean brings Darcy a Christmas tree. This is where their relationship takes a major shift. They share their holiday traditions with each other, and Gomez shares his personality.
Karla: Why Christian fiction?
Candice: I love reading the parables in the Bible that Jesus taught. They’re stories with a godly message that transcend time. God created me to be a writer, and I want to use words like Jesus did (though I can NEVER compare) to write stories that will bring others closer to Him, whether it’s for the first time or to help and encourage someone who already knows Him.
Karla: Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful book with us, Candice! I’ve got my copy and can hardly wait to read it! What a wonderful Christmas gift this will make!
I will send a free digital copy to one lucky commenter to give away!
1. Buy your own copy of Bright Copper Kettles — a bargain at .99! (Let’s help a new author get started!) Then tell me you did so in your comments (honor system)!
2. Tell me what you like about Christmas stories like Bright Copper Kettles! Be sure to leave an email address, too. I’ll announce the winner next week!
Congratulations, Candice, on your beautiful new book!