Thursday, December 06, 2007

The 6th Author on a 12ish Author Tour - Kristen Heitzmann!

Welcome author and friend Kristen Heitzmann, and share her Christmas Memories.

Kristen, thanks for stopping by!

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

I remember walking to church in the dark, wearing scratchy tights and mittens, and the way the whole sanctuary glowed when we stepped inside.

(rh: Ooo, I had a pair of those same tights!)

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

The advent wreath was a major focus, lighting the candles for each week of advent, singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" and "Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel."

Living in the fields outside of town, our Christmas trees came with a root ball to be planted when the ground thawed. Some were round, fat pinon pines, others blue spruce. Ever decorated a real blue spruce? Talk about needles.

(rh: Oh, I know. Though my fake tree tore my arm up pretty good this year as I straighted the branches!)

We usually opened presents Christmas eve night. My parents said it was so that Christmas day could be just about Jesus. But I think it was because none of us could wait. That's a tradition we’ve continued.

On Christmas eve we also hung our socks and there was always an orange and a lifesavers storybook inside. Now, my family all take turns sneaking something into everyone's stocking.

(rh: Sounds like a fun tradition! Can you, um, hanging a stocking with "Rachel" on it?" ;)

When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up right after Thanksgiving. My husband works assembly and outside lights. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.

Okay, so imagine the holiday photos in House Beautiful and that's pretty much the look I go for. (Wow!)

Having hit the department stores' after Christmas sales for years, there aren't many spots in the house that don't receive a touch of Christmas magic.

I have the elegant 9' tree in the living room, the Victorian 4' tree in the foyer, the 7' country tree in the family room, and the happy tree in the dining room with so many mini multi-colored lights that the only ornaments it receives are the advent story books we read each evening and hang.

The mantle is decked, the garlands are hung, the candles are lit. The whole house is jubilant.

(rh: That sounds amazing! I'm inspired, Kristen.)

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I grew up with a Johnny Mathis Christmas CD and it's still one of my favorites. My other is a copy of Mel Torme singing his "Christmas Song."

Sarah McGlaughlin, Lori Lite, Hammered dulcimer, acoustic, and bluegrass
Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, but I’ve been a Florida girl for 33 years! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

Last year was the perfect Christmas. It dumped nearly three feet of snow a few days before Christmas and kept snowing a little each day - so incredibly beautiful, frosting the mountains, coating the trees, covering every brown wisp of grass.

The produce section in the grocery stores were literally bare because delivery trucks couldn't get through, but my newly married daughter and I pooled what we'd purchased in advance and made a great dinner.

My youngest son sledded and snowboarded for hours each day and the snow actually lasted. There is something inherently soul nourishing about great, fluffy flakes drifting down amidst the christmas lights and evergreens.

(rh: I agree. I do love the snow, I'm just not used to it anymore.)

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

Christmas is about rejoicing with the people I love, laughing and living and giving. It's about the wonder of the incarnation, God becoming man, a fragile infant dependent on tenderness and care. It is wonder and anticipation and joy.

It's Christmas day, what's for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

We make baklava and English toffee.

The official word on Kristen Heitzmann.

I spent my first six years in South Bend, Indiana in a house with a tornado cellar that gave me a love of damp, musty, mysterious places. To this day, I breathe in a cool cellar like incense.

Transplanted at six, Colorado seemed dry and desolate, the towering mountains a view that could not replace green grass and lightning bugs.

But I learned to watch for barrel cactus in the straw filled fields in which my brother and I played cowboys and Indians. (I always played the Indian because the bow really shot the arrows and all he had were caps.)

We tramped the pasture land of cattle herds, waded into the holding ponds teeming with tadpoles, and toted them home in coffee cans to hatch into hundreds of speckled, penny frogs. At night, with the neighbor kids, I played kick the can on the gravel roads and acreage around our far flung houses.

Between classical violin lessons, I rode my symphony instructor's purebred Arabians up and down the scrub oak covered slopes of Cheyenne Mountain. My sister, brother and I played Mozart at church on Christmas, and I subsequently taught myself piano, recorder, tambourine and guitar.

From a very young age my passions were reading, drawing, and writing stories. Ours was a cultured family, my dad a professor of philosophy and Dean of Arts and Letters, my mother an oil painter and antique refinisher. That sophistication I absorbed, but I also had a wild streak that called me outside to dissect grasshoppers and catch rock lizards and salamanders.

From the time my dad taught me to read at sit-on-the-floor school when I was four - launching me past kindergarten into 1st grade - I have loved learning and expressing what I know through art, music, and especially writing.

Education came easily and I grew accustomed to having my work read and displayed. But breaking out of the family mold, I left college to marry my husband Jim (celebrating our 27th this year.)

Since then, life and all kinds of research have provided the grist for my stories. We have three awesome adult kids, and one incredible teenager. (You might think I'm biased, but ask anyone who knows them.)

While home schooling my four kids, I wrote my first novel. I pitched it for publication, and it became the first of a five book historical series.

Since then, I have written three more historical novels and eight contemporaries with a ninth coming in June 08. "The Still of Night" was nominated for the Colorado Book Award. The "Tender Vine" was a Christy Award finalist and "Secrets" won a Christy in 2005.

People often ask why I started writing and I say to get the stories out of my head. Some say they'd like to write a book, but I say if you're not wracked with labor pains, there are easier ways to express yourself. Being a writer is a solitary, eccentric, and often compulsive path. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

(rh: Well said, I feel the same way. Thanks for coming by Kristen, it was great to get to know you more and hang out. Merry Christmas!)

Kristen's books

The Diamond of the Rockies series:







The Rocky Mountain Legacy series:


Ausjenny said...

Thanks Kristen for sharing, A white Christmas must be amazing. here we would love one around 80 degrees not over 90.
I too like the stocking idea and sneaking a present in sounds fun.
Its so cool reading about other peoples Christmas traditions and memories. My Mum lived in the shadow of mountains in Victoria Australia and when she moved here to South Australia which is fairly flat she really missed them even after 51 years she still gets homesick for the mountains.

Rel said...

LOL!! Getting one tree organised is enough for me!

Just finished Echoes, Kriten and loved it :) I'll review it soon.

Thanks to you and Rach!

Rel said...

oops! Left out the "s"!