Shannon McNear is the author of Defending Truth, one of nine novellas in A Pioneer Christmas Collection (Barbour Publishing, September 2013). A Midwestern farm girl transplanted more than 20 years ago to Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history. She’s a homeschooling mother, military wife, and a member of ACFW, RWA, and My Book Therapy. When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, Shannon finds joy in worship, women’s ministry, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.
Welcome, Shannon McNear! It is such a pleasure to have you join us at Novel PASTimes. We’re glad to have this chance to learn more about you and your recent release.
Please tell us about A Pioneer Christmas Collection.
The wild and untamed lands of America called to the brave and determined pioneers who desired a new way of life. Faced with primitive lodgings—a cave, a dugout, a sod house, a barn—settlers encounter their first Christmas in a new land with both trepidation and hope. From the mountains of North Carolina to the woods of Michigan, across the plains of Oklahoma and deserts of Arizona, they soon learned that wherever the heart dwells, Christmas and romance can find a place to call home.
Introduce us to the plot and characters in your particular story.
On the frontier of western North Carolina, which will someday become east Tennessee, Truth Bledsoe keeps her family fed while her father is away fighting the British. When she discovers a half-starved, fugitive Tory, she’s not above feeding him, but to go past simple Christian charity to forgiveness seems impossible. To love would be unthinkable.
Micah Elliot has fled capture after the massacre at King’s Mountain. He is heartsick, battle weary, and ashamed of the cowardice that sent him westward over the mountains instead of eastward toward home. Groping his way through a crisis of faith, he must discover and embrace what might finally be worth laying his life down for.
A group of short Christmas stories seems perfect for the busy holiday season! How did you become involved in participating with this anthology?
My good friend Beth Goddard, who has been writing for Barbour for years, passed the call for submissions for this collection onto me. To my surprise, a story idea just dropped into my head—sparked by a comment made years ago about another story, by someone who would be one of my co-authors. :-) I wrote a first chapter and a one-page synopsis and—yes, without an agent, on my friend’s recommendation—I sent them to the editor. And then went on with life. I had another novel to finish, after all.
About six weeks later, at the annual ACFW conference, everyone speculated on whether this editor would continue her personal tradition of the past few years of surprising an unpublished author with their first book contract, since she wasn’t able to attend this time. I doused the tiny hope that somehow wouldn’t die (I hadn’t heard back on my proposal when others had, and so I thought maybe ...), and went into the first session. Then, during the announcements, the president of ACFW said that the editor had still wanted to announce a pair of first-time author contracts. Surprise—the first one was for my story!
What a delightful blessing that was! Was it difficult doing the research for your Christmas story?
Not really—I used research I’d already done for my long historical, with a little more focus. A few details were harder than others to track down. :-)
Have you always been interested in history and, if so, are there any particular eras that spark your interest the most?
I guess I have! It started with a fascination for post Civil War western America (think the Little House books) and of course for all things medieval ... these days it’s the colonial and Revolutionary War era, although others are increasingly interesting. (The Roman era and the Viking era, to name just two.)
Tell us about your writing journey: When did you begin and how did you know you were called to be a writer?
For the answer to this and more, please come back tomorrow for Day 2 of our interview with Shannon.
Shannon is giving away a copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection to one of our readers! To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment with your e-mail address and answer our guest author's question. Here it is:
Many of the stories in Pioneer Christmas focus on God’s hand working through difficult situations, deepening the grace often found during holidays. So instead of the usual “favorite Christmas memory” question, I’d like to ask ... what was your most difficult Christmas, and how did you experience God’s grace in it?