Historical authors Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch talk about their new holiday romance anthology.
For the Regency romance anthology Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection (Kregel Publications), three popular authors—Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, Erica Vetsch—come together to offer a heartwarming collection of holiday Regency romance. Based on lines from a beloved Christmas carol, these three novellas in one book have depth, faith, and satisfying stories all packed into the perfect length for readers to curl up and take a brief break from their holiday busyness.
Carolyn Miller is a longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story–a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales. Erica Vetsch’s favorite books are historical novels and history books—and one of her greatest thrills is stumbling across some obscure historical factoid that makes her imagination leap.
In this group interview, the three authors share about their contributions to the book, explain the spiritual themes of each story, and reveal how their faith impacts their storytelling.
Ladies, tell us about the story you wrote for this collection.
Carolyn Miller: ‘Heaven and Nature Sing’ is a story of reunions and rekindled romance, as two music lovers separated by family circumstances, are reunited at a Christmas country house party. It’s a story of music, Regency Christmas traditions, forgiveness and all the romantic feels as God works in two hearts to bring them together.
Amanda Barratt: When I sat down to plot this Regency Christmas romance, I knew I wanted to weave in themes and threads a bit different than what is typically found in a holiday novella. My hero, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, bears scars that run deeper than those on his body. He lives in isolation at his remote Yorkshire estate while whispers swirl like mist over the moors that a curse is responsible for the tragedies that have befallen his family for generations. My heroine is an unwed mother struggling to provide for her infant daughter in the slums of London. Her meeting with the hero one winter night comes at a turning point in both of their lives. Tucked within the pages of this novella are a few nods to The Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, both of which provided inspiration for the story.
Erica Vetsch: Wonders of His Love is the story of Cilla Haverly, widow of the heir to the Haverly dukedom, who feels stuck in her life. She’s her mother-in-law’s companion, and mother to an infant girl who will never inherit at title. Cilla wonders where she belongs in Society, and if her life is ever going to change. Enter Hamish Sinclair, a portrait artist who has been commissioned to paint the newly installed Duke and Duchess of Haverly. Hamish feels his dreams are just out of reach, and he’s wondering if he’ll have to settle for a different life than the one he envisioned. Together, Cilla and Hamish discover that change can be good, and that God sees and knows them and has a better way for them both than either ever imagined.
The story titles are lines taken from beloved Christmas carols. What inspired you to choose your particular title?
Carolyn Miller: I have always loved music, and thought it would be a fun challenge to combine the heavenly and natural elements alluded to in the line from the song ‘Joy to the World.’ So we see two singers, traditional music of the era, references to birdsong and more – I hope readers who have a heart for music enjoy!
Amanda Barratt: When the three of us and our editor began brainstorming the idea for this collection, we were chatting about which lines from Joy to the World we wanted to use as titles for our novellas. Our brilliant editor offered several suggestions and one of them was “Far as the Curse Is Found.” When I read that line, immediately ideas began to flow. With most of my books, the seed for a story grows out of an event in history or asking “what if?” and the title usually comes later in the process. With this novella, the title came first and the story developed around it.
Erica Vetsch: I chose Wonders of His Love because it just spoke ‘romance’ to me. Both earthly, romantic love, and the romance of how much God loves us, and how He demonstrated that love by sending His Son. Love is a miraculous gift from God, and our ability to love is predicated upon His loving us first.
What are the spiritual themes you’re visiting with your short story?
Carolyn Miller: As with most of my books, forgiveness is a key theme. So many of the challenges of life stem from misunderstandings, and in Regency times there were social conventions and family obligations to be observed that meant a simple talk face to face to resolve things was often quite out of the question. So forgiveness and trust in God are key themes for ‘Heaven and Nature Sing.’
Amanda Barratt: Life leaves us all with scars. Some are visible, others unseen. When the story opens, both my characters are marked by scars from their pasts and both grapple with finding healing. My story explores the truth that no matter how deep our wounds run, when we bring them to Christ and entrust Him with our brokenness, He is the ultimate Healer. Sometimes He mends our scars and sometimes He strengthens us to live fully with them. And no matter what we face on earth, He promises us an eternity where every broken place will be made whole.
Erica Vetsch: Both of my characters wonder if God sees them, or if He cares about them individually. While they know with their minds that God is good and that He is sovereign, they both struggle with feeling He’s somehow overlooked their hearts’ desires. Does God care about a widow who sees a long future ahead of her of being a companion to a demanding mother-in-law? Does God care about a painter who has been gifted great talent, but who also is of common lineage with no standing in the aristocratic art community?
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