Interview – Delia Latham, author

Delia2webDELIA LATHAM is a born-and-bred California gal, raised in a place called Weedpatch and currently living in the lovely mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband, Johnny. She enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She also has a “thing” for Dr. Pepper.

You have a couple of new books out, DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? (book 1 in the A Smoky Mountain Christmas series) and JINGLE BELLE (the December offering from Pelican Book Group’s Pure Amore Book Club). Kindly tell us about the settings and why they’re important. With pleasure! I kinda love talking about my books… ☺

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? is a short story (eight chapters), set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The very name automatically brings to mind family ties, down-home values, deeply held traditions…you get the picture. What better place for a cozy Christmas series?

I enjoyed my online research trip through the area so much! Now I can’t wait to visit for real.

JingleBelle_mjpgJINGLE BELLE is set in the fictional town of Pohono, Oklahoma, where my heroine is a highly respected jingle writer for an advertising firm. She’s a born-and-bred Oklahoma girl. The hero, raised in Boston, is a stubborn Italian who owns a chain of restaurants—uhm, Italian, of course.

A mid-sized Oklahoma town is the perfect backdrop for this story because the town’s mentality is one of the obstacles the hero and heroine must overcome in order to accomplish their common goal. Here’s why. It’s populated mostly by dyed-in-the-wool Pohanans who still adhere to a lifestyle anchored firmly in the past, and steadfastly resist progress. Belle’s challenge is to come up with a fun little tune and lyrics catchy enough to make those old-school Oklahomans want to try a Tuscan-themed restaurant when they could get a perfectly good meal in “the Pohono Platters eatin’ place, right thar on Main Street,” and it wouldn’t put as big a hole in their pocketbooks.

Have you ever met a dyed-in-the-wool “Pohonan”? Yeah. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Good people. Firm opinions. Stubborn as ten mules. (Hey, y’all, don’t shoot! Some of my favorite people in the world live in the great state of Oklahoma—and so did I, for a few years. I love the place, and its salt-of-the-earth citizens. But truth’s truth. ☺)

What about the characters in your books, what can you tell us about them? DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Laramie (Lari) Buchanan is a sweet Tennessee girl with a bad case of bitter. Not that anyone could blame her…it doesn’t make a gal feel all warm and fuzzy when she finds the man she’s supposed to marry makin’ out with another woman…on the day of the wedding, no less!

Evan Lassiter is the dirty dog who broke her heart. Completely unaware of what Lari saw that day three years ago, Evan is still trying to figure out why the woman he loves jilted him at the altar, without a word of explanation before or since.

Then there’s Lari’s family: Granddaddy and Granny Buchanan. (Granddaddy’s having an 80th birthday bash on Christmas Eve. His request to have all of his grandchildren present is the only reason Lari braved the memories—and the risk of running into Evan—and returned home for Christmas.) Her parents. Her little sister Keni. Her best friend Syd. And three cousins, who show up as heroines in the other three books in the series. (They’re a fun crew!)

JINGLE BELLE – I had so much fun writing this one!

Belle Knowles writes jingles. When her company gets the contract to market Santini’s Italiano, a fancy, Tuscan-themed Italian restaurant, Belle is expected to come up with her best little ditty ever. The Santini brothers need to pull all those busy, harried Christmas shoppers off the streets, out of the shops and into their upscale restaurant—smack in the middle of the holiday season. Sounds like fun to Belle…until Nick Santini makes no secret of the fact that he doesn’t much care for her work—or her, for that matter. Thing is, she’s not too enamored with him either.

Definite fireworks. Right from the start. But they’re both Christian adults. Surely they can get the job done without a major crisis.

Or maybe not…

Other characters include Belle’s boss and Nick’s best friend, Cameron Hilliard; Nick’s brother Alex and his wife Elena; and Belle’s mom, although her role is mostly handled through phone calls, since they live at a distance.

Writing JINGLE BELLE was a fun journey, and I’m seriously thinking of returning to Pohono next Christmas. ☺

Do you have a favorite fictional character you’d like to be friends with in real life? Hmmm…at least one in every book I read. ☺

Oh…sorry…you meant one of my own characters, didn’t you? Now that makes for a hard decision. I mean, I created them…this is like asking me to choose a favorite child.

Maybe Hannah, from Yesterday’s Promise. She’s beautiful, talented, sweet—and she has an adorable little boy I’d love to hug.

But then, there’s also jaded Gypsy…and self-critical Kylie…and loyal Destiny. Those ladies are all from my LeasGift_MJPGSolomon’s Gate series, and I love each one of them. Oh, and Lea! Yes, I choose Lea. She’s the heroine in Lea’s Gift, a Christmas novella I co-wrote with Tanya Stowe for Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza 2013. It’s a Solomon’s Gate bonus story. Lea was a (very special) child in Kylie’s Kiss (Solomon’s Gate Series, Book 2). In Lea’s Gift, she’s a (very special) young woman in love.

Do you write other genres? Well, I have a children’s book. Mine! is a rhymed story about a little girl who’s not very good at sharing, but learns something important from a sweet friend.

I also have a “vintage romance.” Goldeneyes starts in 1936 and ends in 1959. It’s set in the little farming community where I grew up—Weedpatch, California. Yep, right amongst the grape vineyards, cotton fields, and—in 1936—farm labor camps.

Romance is what I love to write, but I’m not a big history buff, so “vintage” is about as far as I’m comfortable venturing into the past. That said, I’ve promised someone special a Christian western, so I’m going to have to stick my neck out and give it a try.

What makes your books uniquely yours? God has inserted an angel into almost every one of my books. I did not plan it that way—seriously, the first one showed up in Goldeneyes, and I was as surprised as anyone else. Then I wrote the Solomon’s Gate books, and sure ’nuff…there they were, wings spread and swords drawn.

Then came the Heart’s Haven collections. These novellas are written by me and three other authors. (Each collection includes four books, each book written by one of the four of us.) The whole line-up of collections was built around the concept of angelic activity right from the beginning.

I’m not sure why God chose to place His special messengers in my books, but I welcome them.

What’s next for you? I just signed a contract for a four-book series set in and around Cambria, California. Each book will take place in a different season, with the common thread being Paradise Pines Lodge, which is “kinda-sorta” operated by a sweet, mysterious lady named Angelina Love. Visitors at the lodge don’t stay for only a couple of nights or a week…it’s all season or nothing, and Miss Angie chooses the tenants very carefully. The heroine in each book will be that season’s guest at Paradise Pines, and of course, she’ll find much more than sand and surf during her stay in this lovely little seaside community.

Seashore romance. Love in the pines. And a little touch of the divine tucked in for good measure. In the words of country music star Ricky Skaggs, “Love can’t ever get better than this.”

Of course, I’ll be forced to visit Cambria a few more times to really get a real feel for it. Oh, well. It’s a dirty job but… ☺

Delia loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia@delialatham.net.

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