My sweet friend Beth Pugh and I met on Facebook and have been critique partners ever since! (Meaning I send her my rough drafts and she sends me hers. It really helps to have a fellow writer take a look at your story and provide early feedback!)
She and I both have Christmas romances coming out on the same day this fall, so I thought it would be fun to introduce you to her and her new book, The Santa Run, during Christmas in July!
The Santa Run is set in Pine Valley, a little town in the Appalachian Mountains. Tell us why you chose this setting and what makes it special to you.
The setting of The Santa Run is inspired by my own little town in eastern Kentucky. The tight knit community and the family atmosphere are what I grew up knowing. I really wanted to share that with readers because the mountains made me who I am.
What inspired you to write about characters who work for a railroad?
Truthfully, I love trains. Not to the level of Sheldon Copper from the Big Bang Theory, but I adore them. To me, trains are entirely romantic. My dream vacation is a cross-country train ride so having characters work there just made sense to me.
Tell us about the real-life Santa Train and why you wanted to pay homage to it in this story.
The real-life Santa Train is a huge community outreach that hands out coats, toys, backpacks, socks, candy and food in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. It happens the Saturday before Thanksgiving and really kicks off the holiday season right. It’s a tradition that has been going on for over seventy-five years. The good the train does is immeasurable and I wanted to showcase it in this story because that type of service is what makes Christmas so special.
I know that you wrote this book in the aftermath of your father’s death, and that the heroine is working to come to terms with the loss of her grandfather. How much of your own experience is reflected in Eliza’s struggle?
In the book, Eliza struggles with attachment and independence. That was me after my mother died when I was eighteen. The loneliness she feels, though, that came from what I was feeling after my daddy died. Being an only child, I had a difficult time knowing that both the people who brought me into this world were no longer in my world. God led me to find my circle, people I could lean into to share my sorrow and my joy, and by the end of the story, Eliza learns to lean on loved ones, too.
If The Santa Run was made into a movie, who would you like to see play the main characters?
I love this question! It is the dream I feel like God gave me when I started writing the book to see it as as Hallmark movie. Lacey Chabert would be an amazing Eliza because I think she could bring her passion to life. Steve Bacic has the look to be Bennett, with the longer hair and the dark eyes. Together, they’d be the perfect pair!
Okay, I have to ask. The main characters in this book are named Eliza and Bennett. Are there any other references to Pride and Prejudice in The Santa Run?
I think you might be the first person to get the Pride and Prejudice reference on their own! Bravo! Eliza definitely has the spunk, strong will, and passion that draws Bennett in like Darcy in the classic. He can’t ignore her no matter how he tries. Too, the sibling love is evident between Eliza and her brothers. It’s not the sisterly bond between Elizabeth and Jane, but the importance of family shines through.
What surprised you most about this story?
The ending. I thought I knew it, but I didn’t. It was like God just drew back the curtain and let me see the way it needed to go. I’m very tickled with the final result!
Would you be kind enough to share your favorite quote from the book?
“If you stretch life out it’ll scare you to death.”
My daddy’s sayings are sprinkled all throughout the book, but that phrase in particular touches me so much. I am a worrier and it reminds me to take each day as it comes. God’s got the future.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Santa Run?
The joy of Christmas, hope for new beginnings, and a family’s love. Most importantly, that God works all things for good for those who love Him. He has a purpose even if we don’t see it.
Tell us five fun facts about you that we won’t find you bio.
- I find faces on the backs of cars while driving. Headlights make the eyes and the trunk seam makes the mouth. My son does this now, too. 🤣
- Frogs scare me to no end. All frogs. I’m terrified of them.
- I have karaoke brain. During conversations, my brain searches its archives and usually finds some song lyric that goes along with what’s said.
- Christmas socks stay in my wardrobe all year round because most of them are fuzzy and I freeze to death!
- I love happy mail! Sending it, especially! We still mail Christmas cards and it’s one of my favorite things!
Giveaway: Beth has graciously offered to give away an advance copy of The Santa Run to someone who answers the following questions: Are you a fan of Christmas in July? When do you start reading Christmas stories?
One winner will be randomly chosen from the comments below. The giveaway will remain open until midnight on July 23, 2022.
Born and raised in the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky, Beth Pugh learned early on that nothing compares to a home cooked meal, front porch sitting, and Sunday morning church services. Through a random ICQ chat, she met her husband and they’ve been embracing those family traditions for years. Now, she hopes to share those same traditions with her son and her readers.
She has seen God turn her greatest grief into indescribable joy and tells everyone she meets about the goodness of the Father—sometimes multiple times in one sitting if there’s coffee and donuts involved.
When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her jamming out in the parent pick-up line, reading on the couch, or cheering for the Chicago Cubs just like her daddy taught her to do. Sometimes, her characters do those things, too.
Visit her website to learn more!