Diary of a Christmas Novella, Day 1

A two-time Christy Award winner and member of CWG’s Editorial Board shares the journey of writing his new Christmas novella, A Marriage Carol (Moody Publishers), in three blog posts this week. The book is available everywhere. Read our review.

Moody Publishers contacted me a year ago and asked me to write a Christmas novella for them. I’m under contract with Tyndale so I asked their permission.

Tyndale gave me the go-ahead—it made sense to them since I also work for Moody Radio. They didn’t see it as a conflict.

Finding a universal theme
I thought of “marriage in crisis” as a theme. Several friends’ marriages had disintegrated, so I had fresh inspiration.

I immediately thought of New York Times bestselling author of The Five Love Languages Dr. Gary Chapman as a co-author. My wife and I co-host a radio program with him on Moody Radio called Building Relationships. He agreed to do this with me.

Captivating the reader
In my mind, the best Christmas story—other than the birth of the Savior—is A Christmas Carol. The change in Ebenezer Scrooge is captivating. Could we borrow from Dickens? No ghosts, but might there be another motif we could employ?

The title, A Marriage Carol, came quickly. The first line of the first chapter came just as fast: “When do we tell the children?”

But how would we get to the past/present/future of this couple? What’s their backstory?

Over several weeks I sent a flurry of emails, ideas, plot suggestions, and designs to my editor, and we kicked ideas back and forth, settling on the images of snow, a red door, a warm fireplace, and this marriage crisis as our backdrop:

Jacob and Marlee Ebenezer are traveling to sign papers to end their 20-year marriage. On Christmas Eve—their anniversary. When Jacob takes a shortcut over an icy mountain road, disaster occurs.

Marlee awakens to find herself alone in the cold car and wanders through the snow to the only light she can find. There she will confront her past, her present, and what might be in her future. But a kind, old man will help her see the power of her choices. The power of hope.

Tomorrow I’ll share the Prologue. We called it a Prelude, and it was nearly cut from the book. I’m so glad it stayed.

Chris Fabry can be heard daily on Moody Radio’s Chris Fabry Live, where he talks “over the back fence” with listeners across the country. He won the 2011 Christy Award for contemporary fiction and the 2011 ECPA Christian Book Award. Learn more about him at chrisfabry.com.

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