Friday, December 4, 2020

12 Days of Christmas Joy: Her Secret Santa (book) by Bonnie Engstrom

Interview with Bonnie Engstrom about Her Secret Santa

Alexis: Why did you write this Christmas holiday story?

I wanted to write a fun Christmas romance, not a traditional “boy meets girl” story. I remembered, Sandy, my longtime friend from high school played Mrs. Santa one year and loved doing it. She had so much fun dressing in the costume and playing the part, and she got a kick out of having her picture taken with the jolly old elf. Sandy says she’s a diva at heart. Of course I dedicated the book to her. I thought the story would be a fun twist on Christmas. I hope it is. Oh, and I include a photo of Sandy with Santa in every print book I give away.

Alexis: Who was your favorite character to create for this story? Why?

Bonnie: That’s a tossup between Patti (the heroine) and Tabitha/Tabby (her granddaughter) who I characterized after my granddaughter. They are both opinionated and stubborn, and a bit confrontational in a loving way. Fun characters to create.

Alexis: Describe the heroine of this story who we know as “Patti.” What does she look like? Sound like? Act like? What is her dream for this Christmas?

Bonnie: Patti is frustrated with her age and her gray hair. She’s a teacher and wants to do something exciting and different during her Christmas vacation, not sit around and read or do crafts as the other teachers suggest. She’s a people person who likes to get involved in others’ problems, maybe too much. Colin asks her to help him with his grandson, so she jumps right in without even questioning why or what the problem is. When she first takes on the role of Mrs. Santa she only wants a fun diversion. But pretending to be Mrs. Claus daily with the same Santa actor and becoming involved in his life inspires a dream in her to share life with him.

Alexis: Describe the hero of this story. What is his name? What does he look like? Sound like? Act like? What does he want more than anything this Christmas?

Bonnie: Patti describes Colin as a “Simon Cowell look-a-like.” Let’s just think of him as Mr. Santa who wants to have a successful business and learn how to relate to his grandson. His favorite reply to almost everything is “Whatever.” Does that give you a clue or two? He had no plan to fall in love, especially at his age.

Alexis: What is the greatest challenge that your hero faces?

Bonnie: His fear of commitment, especially at an “advanced” age. His second fear is that his daughter will never accept Patti. But his biggest challenge is his falling in love with Patti and not wanting to admit it.

Alexis: What is it about the hero that makes Patti fall in love with him?

Bonnie: It starts out as exasperation at him for not accepting his grandson “as is.” Then when she realizes he is really a kind man who is clueless about children, she has compassion for him. Compassion morphs into love when she realizes she really cares about this man, even with all his self-doubt.

Does Patti enjoy her part-time job? Where does she work and what are her job duties?

Bonnie: She’s excited about her job at first, until there is a legal hic-up when Tabitha plays an elf as Mrs. Santa’s helper. Tabitha is a precocious child who often acts without thinking. But readers will have to read the story to learn about that incident and a few others that get Patti into trouble. The thing Patti hates most about her job is wearing the green vinyl boots and the frilly cap, both part of her costume. She also gets frustrated that she isn’t allowed to hug the children but Santa is. “Not fair!”

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story?

Bonnie: Everything! Patti relies totally upon God and His guidance. She talks to Him a lot, often by a silly habit of chatting with Him in her bathroom mirror. She believes the decisions she makes and the actions she takes are because God led her. Although she is often impulsive, she has complete trust that God led her to act. After all, didn’t He set it up for her to be hired by Colin as Mrs. Santa Claus? Surely His hand was in their frequent meetings at Starbucks and Colin asking Patti for help with his grandson, Braydon. Those situations were not accidents because Patti doesn’t believe in chances, just God incidents.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story?

Bonnie: That love is possible at any age. Isn’t it? Also, even though falling in love has twists and turns, it can be a delightful journey. I also hope readers will remember the fun banter and love shared between Patti and her grandchild, Tabby. I love both of their personalities – although of different eras, they are both feisty and upfront with their emotions. Maybe it’s a DNA, family thing. Or, as Patti would say, a God thing.

Alexis: Did you play Christmas music while writing this story? If so, which song was your favorite and how did it inspire your storytelling?

I never play music when writing. I am an only child raised by non-musical, but reading, parents. Silence is golden.

Alexis: What is your favorite Christmas holiday treat? Did it help you while writing this story? If so, explain.

Bonnie: I have no special holiday treat, unless seeing my grandchildren open their presents counts.

Alexis: If you could give one of your characters a Christmas gift, what would it be? Why?

Bonnie: My entire house, tree and all, is decorated in Santas every year. Many of the Santa ornaments depict the activities and professions of each family member. One son is a surfer, so I have many surfing Santas. Hubby is a fisherman and hiker, so several hiking and fishing Santas adorn our tree. I would give Patti either a teacher Santa because she is a teacher or a Mrs. Claus Santa. But it would have to be wearing green boots.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Bonnie. Merry Christmas!

Bonnie: Thank you, Alexis. This has been fun. Merry Christmas to you and yours, too!

Author Bio:

Bonnie Engstrom is a multi-published author of contemporary Christian romance. She is also a multi-grandma with six blessings.  

Four of her grandchildren, including twins, live a stone’s throw from her and her psychologist husband Dave. Two live in Costa Rica – Pura Vida – where they surf, even at seven and nine, thanks to lessons from their surfing teacher dad.

When she and Grandpa Dave aren’t taking the Arizona kids to gymnastics, chess tournaments, Starbucks for after school treats and watching soccer games, she moderates two online prayer chains. They reside on a lagoon where Canada geese flourish every winter, and sometimes a snowy egret. Their two rescued mutts, Lola and Sam, love to chase the geese. Well, Sam does, but even though scruffy Lola is the bossy one, she doesn’t understand the chase part.

She still doesn’t know she’s on the cover of the latest book in The Candy Cane Girls Series, Melanie’s Blue Skirt. Won’t she be surprised! Bonnie is a long time member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Pro member of Romance Writers of America.

Visit Bonnie’s website to see all the grandkids and sign up for her newsletter "Life On The Lake" to win fun prizes.

Blurb for Bonnie’s book, Her Secret Santa:

Patti never expected to portray a legendary character, nor fall in love. 

She just wanted a part-time job over the holidays. But between the Simon Cowell look-a-like guy who played Santa and her granddaughter Tabitha, and maybe God, she pulled on the green vinyl boots, powdered her eyebrows and “sucked it up”, as Tabby would say until ... the Santa who came to give out gifts at church was different.

And she kissed him.

Did she kiss the wrong Santa?

Buy Bonnie’s book on Amazon

Note to the Readers:

The ebook version of Bonnie's story, Her Secret Santa, will be on sale for only $0.99 throughout this holiday season via!

Connect with Bonnie:
Bonnie loves to hear from readers, so be sure to email her at with BOOK in the subject line.

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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  1. I've asked for a dog :) and got it much later lol
    Thank you for the interview!!!

  2. Great interview! I liked Tabby the most! Alice K. Arenz


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