Carmel author pens nontraditional holiday romance


By Chris Bavender

Liza Jonathan’s romance writing career began with a trip to the Carmel Clay Public Library. She noticed many of the books were romances and, having never read one, picked one up.

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“I took it home expecting merely a sexy read, but I was rocked off my heels by how good it was, the tight plotting, the pitched emotional tension between the characters, the rich storytelling. I was hooked,” the Carmel author said. “For a few months, I was reading literally a book a day. Finally, one day I finished a book and thought, ‘I think I can write one of these.’”

So, Jonathan wrote “The Charmed One,” a paranormal romance, and submitted it for entry into the local chapter of Romance Writers of America. Then, a romance industry blog on how painful it can be to read Christmas romances while dealing with a difficult family life led to Jonathan’s next book idea.

“Christmas romances tend to have light plots where everyone’s problems can be solved by embracing the holiday spirit and winning the Christmas cookie bake,” Jonathan said. “The writer simply said, ‘Some of us will never have a merry Christmas.’ I was so moved by that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the idea occurred to me, ‘What if you took two strangers with very tragic pasts, a man and a woman crippled by their regrets, and threw them together in a magical mountain town that populates around their every wish and deepest desire? A place where they could truly have the perfect Christmas?”

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“Wrecking Christmas” by Liza Jonathan (Submitted photo)

“Wrecking Christmas,” the first book in the Mountain Magic Christmas series, took Jonathan about three months to write. She typically wrote at night after wrapping up work at her public relations company.

“I could see the characters so clearly in my mind from the beginning, that when I set my hands to the keys, it felt like they were telling me what to say,” she said. “I know that may sound a little melodramatic, but it’s true. When you’re really onto something, the book almost writes itself.”

The book is set in Jonathan’s native West Virginia, where the heroine has a wreck on her way to the Greenbrier Resort and is rescued by the hero, a local who runs a design and collision repair shop. The couple ends up stranded in the fictional, magical town of Christmas Pass during a snowstorm.

“In this perfect place, they still have to find a way to work through all their issues before they can truly find the love that will change their lives, and that’s what the story is really about,” Jonathan said.

Jonathan will have a book signing from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 22 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Westfield Barnes & Noble, 14790 Greyhound Plaza. “Wrecking Christmas” is available on all major platforms. The second book in the series, “The Christmas We Knew,” is set to be released in fall 2020.

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