Wednesday, November 14
Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias
Homelessness is a tough topic for Christmas. What inspired you to use that as the basis for your annual Christmas novel?
I’ve been involved in homeless ministries, to one degree or another, for decades, so I’m not new to this area of ministry. But I’ll admit that I had never considered writing a novel about it until someone in my family, who had personally experienced homelessness at one time in his life, suggested it. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed the perfect theme for a Christmas novel. After all, at Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior, who was pretty much homeless at that particular point in time and was born in a stable because there was no room for them at the Bethlehem Motel 6.
Despite having previous ministry and even personal experience with the homeless, were there still some difficult times for you as you researched and wrote this novel?
Absolutely! I always try to climb inside the skin of my characters, and when I thought of myself as the young mother Josie, attempting to care for and protect her two small children while living on the streets, I wept. There were times when my own children were little that we didn’t have a lot of material things and almost never had enough money at the end of the month, but we always had a roof over our heads and never wondered where we would find our next meal. When I consider that approximately 25 percent of the homeless in America are families (either single or dual-parent) with small children, it breaks my heart.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of Unexpected Christmas Hero?
This is a story about a young family—husband, wife, two small children—who seem to be living the American dream. But when the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife (Josie) not only has to deal with that loss but quickly discovers that they are destitute. Her husband had lost his job some months earlier but didn’t want to worry her, so he hid it from her, hoping to find another position. He didn’t, and eventually ran up all their credit cards, took out a second mortgage on the house, emptied their savings, and even cashed in his life insurance policy. It doesn’t take long until Josie and her children lose their home and find themselves living on the streets, depending on the charity of others to survive. Then they meet Rick, a homeless Vietnam vet who takes them under his wing and, in a most surprising and sacrificial way, becomes their unexpected Christmas hero.
Tell us about the “story behind the story,” which involves the man on the front cover.
When the publisher sent the designer out to find someone to pose as Rick, the homeless vet in the book, he spotted a man on the street who looked amazingly like him. He asked the man—whose name is Willard Parker—if he would pose for the book cover. The man readily agreed and then explained that he truly was homeless and hoped having his picture on the cover would somehow help him find his family, particularly his grown daughter. We are doing our best to stay in touch with Mr. Parker and also to spread his story across the Internet and on radio/TV in hopes of fulfilling his dream to be reunited with his family. If anyone looks at the picture on the cover and/or recognizes the man’s name (Willard Parker) and knows the whereabouts of any of his family, we would truly appreciate it if they would contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can take the necessary steps to try and make this reunion happen.
Where can people find your book?
It’s available on any of the main online venues (Amazon, ChristianBooks.com, Barnes & Noble, etc.) and many stores nationwide.
Can you give us your website info?
Sure! You can find me at www.kathimacias.com or www.boldfiction.com. I’d love it if people would stop by there and check out all my books, as well as the video trailers that go with them. They can also sign up to receive my weekly devotional, or check out where I’ll be speaking in the near future. Above all, click on “contact” and send me an email. I’d love to hear from them, and I promise to answer.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.
Homelessness. Desperation. Despair. A young mother finds herself living on the streets and trying to provide the necessities of life for her two young children. Homeless shelters are not the ideal answer, but the alternatives are even bleaker.
Josie did her best, but the sheer numbers of other homeless families living on the streets made the possibility of any improvement in their situation seem hopeless. She carefully planned each day to make sure that they would find a place to sleep in one of the city's shelters. However, sometimes the alley behind the dry cleaners was the best place she could find for her family.
It is so hard to imagine being homeless, and especially with young children. This book made me look at things differently, and maybe I won't be so quick to judge when I see someone in need. Maybe I won't be so quick to look away next time. Maybe I will be the one who offers a warm meal, or a place to sleep.
Rick is a true hero. Living on the streets himself, he was a friend, a confidante and a hero to the young family. This might be titled as a Christmas story, but is a real treasure to be enjoyed any time of the year.
I highly recommend Unexpected Christmas Hero for readers of all ages.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on my blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services.