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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Spotlight: Claire Ashgrove

A Christmas Wish Come True

Hi everyone! In case you’re just joining me here, I’m blogging this week on the inspiration behind my novels. Today, I’m discussing All I Want For Christmas…Is Big Blue Eyes, my 2009 Christmas release.

This book began, frankly, because I wanted a Christmas story available, and I wanted a release close to when my first book came out. I was still working on the misconception that writing what an author knows is cheating, so I didn’t want to set the book in my hometown, Kansas City. But putting it in Missouri made the story easier to relate to. So I chose a city about an hour away, a small town called Lexington, Missouri, which has a glorious history in the Civil War and is an enchanting place to drive through.

The house that Josh watches get destroyed is a turn-of-the century mansion in Kansas City, right off The Country Club Plaza, in the Art Institute’s district. Through my early twenties, this house sat on the market, abandoned and majestic in a dilapidated kind of way. The story goes that a hotel chain offered 14 million dollars for the property and at the last minute the seller’s backed out, wanting more, as at the time it was right in the middle of budding development. Then they got stuck with it because the hotel moguls moved on. No idea if that’s exactly true, but it did sit for many years.

I developed a business plan to turn that property into a bed and breakfast. But the right investors were too difficult to find. The house has always held a place in my heart. (And I was quite devastated to learn, when stopping by to get a better description than what was in my memory, to see that it’s been modified and is now part of the Art Institute’s “stuff” down there.) So Warwick Manor came to life in my book. This house forms the basis of Josh and Amanda’s dreams.

Going home for Christmas is a pretty heartwarming theme. But I didn’t want the ‘magic’ of going home. I wanted home to be a place that didn’t hold fond memories overall. But there had to be something to enchant Josh with home, even though he despised the city itself. Enter Amanda, the woman he cannot leave behind, no matter how he tries. Which left a lot of room to create the magic.

Emma, Amanda’s daughter, was inspired by my niece, who is a particularly charming little girl who absolutely knows how to wind people around her little finger.

A quirky sister makes things even more fun, and what better way to antagonize her brother Josh than bring in a house-eating puppy? Her yellow lab, and Riley’s yellow lab in Seduction’s Stakes, came from my dear old man, Charley, who walked into my life in a bitter ice-storm, and six years later, was dying at the time I wrote Seduction’s Stakes. This is getting long, so I’ll save his story for tomorrow, and leave you with the All I Want... blurb:

Some dreams were never meant to be...

Renowned architect, Josh McDaniels, spent ten years avoiding his hometown and the unforgettable memories of his youth. But when a former classmate phones him before Christmas with a proposal he can’t refuse, he finds himself back in small-town, Lexington, Missouri, surrounded by holiday festivities and engulfed in memories of a blue-eyed girl.

Amanda Masterson knows three things about Josh. She loves him, he loves her, and he’ll walk out when those feelings terrify him, as he always does. Ten years ago, he abandoned their dreams. Eight years ago, he returned to break her heart again. Now, he’s back once more, and this time, he’s jeopardizing not only her heart but her daughter’s as well.

Can the spirit of Christmas overcome a past riddled with mistakes? Or will fears and doubts destroy the greatest gift of all?


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