How do you write the final book in a series which is very popular with readers—and which features an ongoing villain who must “get his” in the end?
Short answer: very carefully. You write lovingly, yet with enough vengeance and drama to bring the “soap opera” sense of the series to a satisfying conclusion for all the major characters. It’s a lot like piecing together a very intricate jigsaw puzzle, so that all the pieces are present and will fit correctly.
As I wrote The Christmas Cradle, #6 in my Seasons of the Heart series, I was fortunate enough to have a contract for a spin-off series set in Willow Ridge—so I didn’t have to say a final goodbye to that town and the residents my readers and I have come to love. Expectations were running high, however, because my anchor character Miriam was already expecting a baby she’d been told she couldn’t conceive. And to my way of thinking, a Christmas book just begs for a baby!
So I introduced yet another baby, along with his young, unmarried parents, Lena and Josiah—who are on their way to start up a restaurant for Hiram Knepp, that villainous former bishop who (unbeknownst to them) has been banished from Willow Ridge for a long list of inappropriate Plain behaviors. Headstrong Josiah has a lot to learn about running a café/catering operation—and about asking enough questions—and Lena really needs to face the fact that she might be raising her baby by herself. She’s already been kicked out of her parents’ home, and Josiah shows all the signs of abandoning her.
Along with all this conflict, I wanted to be sure this story contained plenty of those “awww” moments that grab readers by the heartstrings and pull them through page after page—because Christmas is the season of miracles, after all. I knew going in that Willow Ridge would have another live Nativity scene (the first one was in my story “A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant” in the anthology, An Amish Christmas Quilt), and that humorous little-kid things would go wrong—and as the story progressed, I realized that Christmas Eve would have Miriam missing the live Nativity to deliver her baby, and that behind the scenes an unthinkable evil was at work that would stun the residents of Willow Ridge and my readers, as well.
No spoilers here! Let’s just say Hiram has a hand in it, and Josiah will feel plenty guilty about it—and Miriam and Ben will be tested to the limit of their faith when they come home from the hospital with their baby. Willow Ridge will never be the same.
But out of every ending comes the chance for a new beginning, right?
Charlotte Hubbard is the award-winning author of The Christmas Cradle, which released September 29 and concludes her Seasons of the Heart Amish series. She has two new series debuting in 2016—Promise Lodge in March and Simple Gifts (a spin-off of the Seasons series) in June. She has also written a four-book series, Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family, as Naomi King.
Be sure to check out Charlotte’s story in the upcoming anthology, An Amish Christmas Quilt.
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