Joining us today is Stacy Gooch-Anderson. Stacy is a wife and mother and the author of The Santa Letters, a book I am sure will quickly become a Christmas classic. We’re going to talk to Stacy about the inspiration behind this heartwarming story, the choices she made, and what the future holds in store for her fans.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Stacy. I am thrilled to have you with us.
Thank you, Cheryl. It is truly my pleasure!
Why don’t we get started by having you tell our readers a little bit more about yourself.
I’m pretty simple really. I’m a wife (we just celebrated our 22nd anniversary on August 26) and a mother who also happens to serve as a taxi and cleaning service for four rambunctious boys. In my spare time (what little there is), I find sanity by writing inspirational and humor based stories. I would say I’ve become pretty balanced since I learned that imperfection truly is my new best friend…;-)
What are some of your favorite ways to spend time with your family?
I love watching my son’s hockey games (I do have something in common with Sarah Palin although I couldn’t run or kill caribou if my life depended on it) and soccer games and curling in on cold yucky days to watch funny movies. We also love trying new things and traveling when our schedules mesh.
Do any of these pastimes or family traditions pop up in your work?
The sports and humor pop up quite a bit. A lot of what is in The Santa Letters came from actual family experiences and traditions and my next book, “Life is Tough – I Doubt I’ll Make it Out Alive” is based all on family experiences.
Let’s talk about The Santa Letters. First of all, I can’t tell you how much I loved the book. My family will be reading it together as we get closer to Christmas. Was The Santa Letters inspired by real life events? Were you active in the LDS church at that time?
I found out that two of my sons had been placed in sexually abusive situations which made me question everything I'd ever been taught and I wondered if there truly was justice in the world. I was active in the church and it was the lessons I’d learned at church throughout my life that thankfully had sunk in which helped me to get past it and aid my sons in getting past it too. I think a stable basis grounded in faith – no matter what religion one is – can help anyone get through the toughest of times.
Has your faith in God grown as a result of everything that happened? Did your family grow closer together too?
Yes, because I watched His hand in all aspects of my life at that time and came to really understand that He loves us and wants the best for us – no matter how insignificant we think we are. I know many of us feel that way at times but we are significant and vital, not only to this world, but to His plan.
As for my family, I will never forget the night my son - who’d been struggling through this terrible situation so much - cried and told us that for the first time he felt loved and protected and surrounded by a family who loved him unconditionally. He thanked God for having given him a good family to be a part of. No mother could have ever had a better Christmas present. We learned that there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish or survive if we stuck together.
As a wife and mother I was very touched by the sudden loss of William and how it impacted his wife and children. Was it difficult writing Emma (William’s wife) Jensen’s story prior to the arrival of the first Santa letter?
It was because much of it came from watching my mother as she grieved after the loss of my father to cancer. Although he was older (61), the joy in life for her left the night he died. Almost four years to the date (four years, 1 month and 1 day to be exact), she passed away from cancer at age 63. I know that they are now happy together watching over their family from beyond.
As each Santa letter and package arrives the excitement for the Jensen family grows and each letter and package also continues the family’s—especially Emma’s—road to healing. In these letters, you managed to share the true message of Christ’s birth without coming across as preaching. Was that a challenge?
The whole goal was to write it for a mainstream audience in a non-offensive, non- threatening way since people, including myself, are turned off by ‘preachy-ness’ and I certainly didn’t to do that! But I also believe that understanding comes through education and perspective. So that became my focus, to teach and help understand through simple lessons and a different perspective. What was hard was studying His life and putting it into simple terms that mainstream (including myself) America could easily understand and relate to.
McKenna is the youngest member of the Jensen family. She embraces the Santa letters and their origin from the first arrival. How important is this for the story? Does McKenna’s easy acceptance draw on any Biblical principles?
Actually it does. You always hear about the faith of children. In correlation to that we are told to become as little children and I think that if we could harbor the faith, innocence and purity of a little child, many things in life would just take care of themselves.
After reading The Santa Letters, I thought this would be a great book for church members to read together and discuss. Does your publisher offer discounts on group sales?
I’m sure they would. You could contact them directly through their website at http://www.cedarfort.com/ or email me directly at email@example.com and I will hook them up with the representative that can best help them down there. You can also call them at 801-489-4084.
Where can readers purchase a copy of The Santa Letters?
It’s available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and deseretbook.com. It’s currently on shelves at Desert Book and Seagull Book and will be on shelves at Borders, Barnes and Noble, Walden bookstores, Sam’s Club and Wal-Marts and I think in Star Books, Costco and in airports.
Do you have a website where readers can find out more about the book?
They can go to http://www.thesantaletters.org/main.html?src=%2F to find free-downloaable templates to the Santa Letters and also read the first chapter to its companion book The Inmate Letters which goes more in depth into Guillermo’s story and picks up with his association with the Jensens.
What’s up next for you? Any exciting news you would like to share with our readers?
Look for Life is Tough coming out Mother’s Day 2009 and The Legend of the Star, another Christmas book coming out Christmas 2009. I’m not sure when The Inmate Letters will be released yet. Probably when I get done writing it..;-)
Is there anything you would like to add?
Just remember that no wound is so deep that with a little TLC (a tender Lord’s care), it can’t be healed better and stronger than it was before.
Thank you for sharing so much of your time with us today, Stacy. I wish you all the success in the world. You’ve written a wonderful book!
Thank you for thinking so but in all honesty, I don’t look at it as my book. Just a story that I was blessed enough to be a part of. The success belongs to Him…