Hey everyone! Life has been crazy with school and National Novel Writer's Month in full swing, but I wanted to take a break to share about a great new book I read just in time for the Holidays!
AN ANGEL ON MAIN STREET by Kathi Oram Peterson is the story of eleven year old Micah Conners who has moved with his mom and his little sister, Annie to a new town following the death of his father in the Korean War. His mom is hoping to give Micah a new start in this small town, away from the influence of gambling that had gotten him in trouble in the big city. But old habits are not always easy to steer clear of, and when the sheriff finds Micah with a pain of dice and no way to explain it he decides to help set Micah straight. The problem is, Micah doesn't want help. He doesn't want the sheriff hanging around when his only goal this Christmas is to steal the baby Jesus from the mysterious manger that pops up in the middle of town. He truly believes that this is the only way to save his little sister from dying. With the help of a small community, a loving family, and maybe an angel or two, Micah learns that miracles can happen.
This was a sweet, fun read, that had me laughing and crying. It was the perfect book to fill the space that sometimes gets overlooked as the busy holiday season starts. I got a chance to ask a few questions of the author and here is what she had to say:
Me: You grew up in a small Idaho town. How much did that inspire this story, the characters, and the setting?
Kathi Oram Peterson: My upbringing inspired the story immensely. Let me give you a few examples. My father owned a store on Main Street and my family lived in the apartment above. When I was only five, my mother had a heart attack while washing my hair. I remember calling to her, hair dripping, wondering what was wrong. I remember watching my father carry her down the apartment stairs to the car that took her to the hospital. I was very frightened I would never see her again. Many times I would stare down on the street below from our apartment wondering if she would be all right. My father worked part-time for the police department. I often went with him at night as he checked store doors, making certain they were locked. If you've read my book, you can see how I used memories of these experiences and morphed them into events and characters in my book. The characters are not based on one person, but a collection of people--real and fictional. The setting--my hometown of Rigby--was a great influence of good for this book.
Me: This book is about miracles. Have there been any miracles in your life that helped with or prompted this story idea?
KOP: I remember once talking with a friend of mine who said she didn't believe in miracles. I felt sorry for her. Miracles are all around us, but not everyone sees them. Yes, I've had miracles in my life. I keep them close to my heart. However, the miracle in my book was inspired by my mother. As I mentioned before when I was little she suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital for many weeks. When she came home she shared with our family a very sacred experience, which left no doubt in her mind or ours that there was life after death.
Me: You got an English Degree from the University of Utah. I have recently gone back to school and am debating different degrees. Do you think an English degree helped or hindered your writing? Why?
KOP: Good for you, going back to school!!! It's tough, but well worth the sacrifice. And my answer to your question is...I believe it helped my writing. Not in the way my critique group does, but in a broader more in-depth scope (I highly recommend critique groups for novelists). For an English degree you have to read a ton of English novels, which is good. The best way to become a good writer is to read and read a lot. An English degree also requires you to write a great deal. A serious writer will try to write every day. My English classes helped me hone my writing to meet the teachers demands. Learning to deliver what a teacher expects helps a writer deliver what readers expect in a story. I recommend checking into what the college offers in a Communications program as well. Weigh the two courses and see which will fill your needs the best.
Me: The relationship between Micah and his little sister, Annie, is touching. Do you have any brothers or sisters? If yes, did your interaction with them growing up help you to write this relationship?
KOP: I have three brothers and one sister. But my family is like two separate families since two brothers and my sister are much older than me and my little brother. There's been times when I've been going through troubles and my sister becomes very protective of me. My older brothers have always supported me in whatever I try to do. For the relationship between Micah and Annie I drew a lot from all my brothers and my sister, but especially from my little brother. We've stayed pretty close through the years. We talk to each other at least once a week.
Me: This book is set in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone, and in a time when people seemed more willing to help their neighbors. Do you have any suggestions on how we can get our lives back into that frame of mind, especially during the upcoming holiday season?
KOP: My answer is very simple. We need to focus on the Savior, make Him part of our daily lives. I know many will say that's very naïve because of the complex problems our world faces...but it really isn't. So much would change for the better if people would just ask themselves the question posed to Primary children...What would Jesus do?
Me: What made you want to become a writer?
KOP: I've always loved good stories. They take you out of your life and give you experiences you never could have imagine. But I never really thought of becoming a writer until after my first child was born. My mother and I read a lot of novels by Phyllis Whitney, Nora Lofts, Mary Stewart, and Jane Austin. One day as we were talking Mom told me she thought I should write a book. She planted the seed, and I've been trying to make it grow every since. I wish she were still alive to see my books published, but I know she knows ... and I can almost hear her squeal with joy.
AN ANGEL ON MAIN STREET is a great book for yourself or to give as a gift to someone you love. You can buy it at Deseret Book or Seagull Book. Or online at the following links: