Monday, November 7, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside and writing Seasonal Novels: An Interview with Susan May Warren

Hey everyone, Annette here. We're mixing things up this Mixing-it-Up Monday. Susan May Warren's latest seasonal novel, Baby It's Cold Outside, just released and she's here to talk about that and give advice for writers on penning seasonal novels. Enjoy the interview! 

Baby, It's Cold Outside and writing Seasonal Novels
by Susan May Warren

How did this story come about?

Our family has a special kinship with this song—my husband sings these crazy verses to it (it’s a rather suggestive song), and it’s hilarious. I thought it would be a fun book title, but I also wanted to not only “clean up” the song, but take it a bit deeper. What are the metaphors embedded in “the cold outside?” And what else could the songwriter be saying (besides the obvious!) 

I enjoyed putting a spiritual and emotional theme to the song and giving it a twist. 

What kind of research did you have to do for this historical?

Of course, I had to research life in the 1940s, but thankfully, my parents were available to assist and, having grown up in South Dakota, very near where the story takes place, they were able to give me fabulous everyday life details about living in a small town. I listened to old radio shows of Flash Gordon, and read accounts of surviving blizzards, as well as tried to understand how doctors dealt with asthma and PTSD post-WWII. I love this time period, so diving into the 40s was a real treat. 

Is writing a holiday story solely about the time during which the story is set, or is it about a certain feel you try to give the entire story? Are there certain key aspects to include? 

A holiday story is really its own genre. Along with all the other ingredients of a powerful story, it has to contain the “magic of Christmas”—that special something that gives it a divine or miraculous feel. That sense that, because of the season, people change, or circumstances change, and God intervenes in a profound way. I searched for this miracle, and it wasn’t until about halfway through the story that I found it. But, the miracle made me weep with a bittersweet joy—and I hope readers enjoy seeing how God sees our every need and answers in unexpected ways.

How does the genre (in this case, a romance) affect the key elements needed for a seasonal novel? 

The romance is key in delivering the “miracle” or Christmas magic I mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the romance, but without the romance plot, it wouldn’t exist.

Do you have any advice for writers who are also penning a seasonal novel?

Remember that a Christmas novel needs to evoke memories and traditions, as well as a sense of hope and magic. It has to leave the reader with the sense that they’ve just received a gift, one that tastes a little like sharing hot cocoa around a warm fire with your family. 
What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

We have a special Christmas Eve Day where we have a traditional cookie decorating contest, then homemade clam chowder soup for dinner. Afterwards, we finish our family puzzle in the new pajamas we find under the tree. It’s simple but we love it. 

Thank you for visiting Seriously Write again!

Thank you for having me!

To learn more about Susan and her writing, including this latest novel, visit her website.


  1. Susie and Annette, thanks for the interesting interview and helpful tips! I recently won a copy of BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE while attending the Facebook party for the release of the novel. (Excellent party, by the way!) Can't wait to find the book in my mailbox! :-D

  2. Nostalgia and Christmas are such universal draws, I can't think of many people (Christian, or otherwise) who don't want to "time travel" to those places. Especially during the holidays. We need more of these! Thank you for writing this one, Susan, I am really looking forward to reading it.

  3. Thanks Dawn and Lilly. I'm looking forward to reading this book too!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!