By Deena Adams
I’m excited to kick off December featuring Contemporary Romance author Jennifer Chastain and her novella, The Mistletoe Contract. For a chance to win a digital copy of Jennifer’s Christmas story, comment on this post by Tuesday, December 7.
Hi, Jennifer! Let’s start with learning a little about you and your family.
My husband, Ronnie, and I just celebrated 27 years of marriage. I met him while I was directing the Passion Play at our church eons ago! We were never blessed with children, but we were host parents to three international students who attended the Christian school affiliated with our church.
I’ve worked for the State of North Carolina for over eleven years now. Currently I work for a research center at UNC Charlotte in the College of Engineering. I am the administrative support.
Now, we’re entering a new phase of our lives. We’re selling our home and moving in with my parents to help take care of them. It was a huge decision and one we didn’t make lightly. I’ve been praying about this for a while now and this past month it was like God whispering in my ear, “now is the time.”
I pray your move will be a blessing to you, as well as your parents. Do you have any pets who will make the move with you? Do you incorporate pets into any of your stories?
My hubby and I are permitted to co-exist with our black rescue cat! He rules the house and knows it and we willingly let him. I do have one story I’m working on where my heroine has a cat, a Siamese in fact.
Fun! Are any of your stories inspired by true events or personal history?
Most of my stories are inspired by true events. I received a lot of inspiration from the reality series, Married at First Sight, for my Christmas novella, the Mistletoe Contract. However, I have a strong faith element in my story and my couple is committed to the marriage.
I just finished a romantic suspense novel based on the life of an undercover ATF agent. Of course, the names and locations have been changed, along with a lot of the details but their career fascinated me and felt inspired to write an alternate ending from what actually happened.
Sounds intriguing. What is the setting of The Mistletoe Contract? If it’s a real location, have you visited? Tell us about it.
The Mistletoe Contract takes place in the fictional town of Providence, NC. And my three-book series is also set in the same fictional small town.
My town of Providence, NC is modeled after some of the smaller towns that exist around the Charlotte region. I also used elements from the small town in New York State my family is originally from.
I love small town settings. Along with the setting, other elements also require research. How long do you spend on research before you begin writing a book?
The research really depends on the story I’ve mapped out. For my book about the CrossFit athlete, I actually met with a CrossFit athlete and interviewed him at least three times. He went into detail about what types of injuries would end his career. We also discussed his diet, his work-out regimen, etc. It was fascinating to talk to him. I spent about a week on research – approximately 40 hours.
My romantic suspense novel included a lot more on-line research since I wrote it during the pandemic. I had to research the Hawaiian Islands, foods, vegetation and then what kind of weapons a federal agent would use. The research also included flights from the Hawaiian Islands to the mainland US, rental cars, the western United States, maps, state parks. It was really intensive. The research for this romantic suspense book took me over a month.
If you wrote in a different genre than your current one, which would you choose and why?
Well, I’m trying to branch out into romantic suspense. I love a good mystery! Also, I have a couple of ideas for a YA – Young Adult romance. We’ll see. I love all genres except horror.
Suspense is one of my favorite genres. I’m not into horror books, either. Who is your favorite fiction author? Favorite novel?
Oh wow – just one? 😊 I really love Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. Two totally different styles of writing but wow – they can drive home spiritual truth. My favorite novel by Susie Warren is “It Had to Be You.”
Two great writers! What advice would you give an aspiring author?
I’ll pass on the advice I was given when I first started writing. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. It takes a while to get published. Also, get to know the writing community around you – attend a conference or workshop, take online courses, read craft books on writing, follow other authors on social media. Join a critique group. Become a member of a couple of different organizations.
I’m a member of ACFW, My Book Therapy and The Blue Ridge Reader Connections. I have cultivated friendships with writers from all over the country. As a writer, I’m an introvert, and sometimes it’s difficult to put myself “out there.” This really pushes me past my comfort zone but seasoned writers have been such an encouragement to me as I try to navigate this crazy writing life.
I can give a hearty “amen” to that advice! What’s next from you?
I am under contract for my three-book series that is set in my fictional town of Providence, NC. The Jamison’s are a family of three brothers, Brennan, Tanner and Preston. Brennan, the oldest, is a lawyer, Tanner is a former NFL Quarterback and Preston is a CrossFit athlete. I’m working on edits right now, and it’s taking longer than I expected but I’m hoping to have everything to the editor by June 1, 2022. These are stories of redemption, faith, and second chances, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet the Jamison brothers!
Thanks so much for the interview, Jennifer! May God bless you as you continue to write for Him while caring for your parents.
Join the conversation. Do you read Christmas books? Do you prefer reading about fictional towns or real places? What genres are your favorites? Any comments or questions for Jennifer?
Don’t forget to comment by December 7 for a chance to win a digital copy of The Mistletoe Contract!
The Mistletoe Contract by Jennifer Chastain
Click the book cover for purchase link
He needs a wife. She needs money. Is their modern-day marriage an answer to their prayers or a disaster waiting to happen?
Confirmed bachelor, Nathan Rutledge shut his heart to romance when he was forced to break the heart of the only woman he ever truly loved. Now, with his father’s retirement from the family conglomerate, the torch has been passed to him. But there are two problems—first, he needs a wife in order to take over the family business. Second, someone has been embezzling company funds. With the pressure mounting, and time expiring to find both a wife he can trust and the thief, Nate needs a Christmas miracle.
Forensic Accountant, Meredith Mitchell’s life is in a shambles. Her mother needs a lifesaving transplant, Mom’s medical bills have bankrupted Meredith’s meager savings, and she’s sold everything of value, but it’s still not enough. To make matters worse, she’s now tasked with discovering accounting errors for a new client—none other than Nathan Rutledge—the same man who gave her a broken heart for Christmas eight years ago.
Meredith wants to run. Nate wants the chance to right his wrongs. So, naturally, when he proposes a modern-day marriage of convenience, she balks at the idea. But he desperately needs a wife, and she really needs the money he offers. Is this the answer to her prayers? Or will this mutually beneficial arrangement re-open old wounds that can’t be healed?
Jennifer Chastain is a member of ACFW, ACFW-NC, and Word Weavers. Several of her other stories were finalists in the Blue Ridge Mountains Foundations contest and she was a finalist in the Touched by Love contest, sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of RWA. Her contemporary romance stories contain the themes of redemption, grace, and forgiveness.
A hopeful romantic, Jennifer loves dark chocolate, Diet Coke, old movies and a good romantic movie. She loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and when not cooking, she’s baking. Growing up in the snowy North, Christmas has always been her favorite holiday, with the scents of cinnamon, vanilla, and pine scenting the air.
She and her husband have been married for over 25 years and they are permitted to co-exist with their black rescue cat.
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If you missed my Thanksgiving Christian Fiction poem video last week, find it here.