Donna VanLiere is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She has won a Retailer’s Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, and two Audie Awards, has been a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and is an inductee in the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence. Many of her Christmas novels have been adapted into movies. You can find her online at donnavanliere.com.
Shauna Kosoris: What inspired your newest novel, The Christmas Town?
Donna VanLiere: All three of our kids are adopted and I’m always interested in how families are formed. I wanted to write a story about how a family can be formed at any age and many times, it isn’t the one we’re born into. Lauren spent many years in foster homes but never felt she was part of a family. It’s not until a literal accident occurs that she discovers her family.
You write really wonderful characters. Where do your ideas for them come from? Are they based off of real people?
Sometimes they are based on real people but most often they’re composites of people I’ve seen somewhere in life and I’ve noticed their face, way of speaking, body language, etc. If I’m writing about people, then I need to pay attention to people!
Your novels are frequently set in small towns. Why do they appeal to you so much?
I grew up in a city much like Grandon of the books. It had a town square and a gazebo and people knew and helped each other. You get more of that in a smaller town. In each book I always want to show that despite the circumstances someone might be going through, that hope is alive, and it often comes through the kindness of people around you.
Many of your novels have been adapted into movies for the small screen. Were you involved in that process?
No. They always allow me to read the script but that’s as involved as I get. LOL! There have been a couple of instances where part of a script has been really, really off and after I’ve brought it to their attention, they’ve tweaked it, but for the most part I’m not involved. I do go to the set for a couple of days to watch some of the scenes being shot and that’s always fun. It’s interesting to see how an actor brings the character to life on screen. I usually get several e-mails following a movie that are either very positive about an actor’s portrayal, or really disappointed in how that actor interpreted the character. It’s an interesting process to watch.
As your books are set during the Christmas season, what aspect of the holiday inspires you the most?
The manger. Christ’s birth is mind boggling. He was in Heaven but He humbled himself to become a baby, a man. For us. That’s beyond inspiring.
So what are you working on now?
I have two books that are finished that need to be pitched to publishers and I’m currently writing another Christmas novel for an October 2018 release.
How exciting – good luck! So I’ve got a couple more quick questions to finish up. What book or author inspired you to write?
I can’t pinpoint a book or author. I’ve just always loved to read and was always writing something “on the side.” One day I decided that maybe I should try to make it more of a full time thing instead of a side thing. I’m very grateful it worked!
I’m glad that it did. Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?
I John is a beautiful book.
And what are you currently reading?
My problem is I’m always reading four or five books at once! I wish I had the personality that starts a book and finishes it before starting another one, but for whatever reason, I can’t do that! I read the Bible everyday and depending on what kind of mood I’m in, I’ll grab either the non-fiction book I’m currently reading or the fiction, or the biography, etc. One day, I hope I’ll be able to read one book at a time 🙂