For those of you who love Christmas stories, Julie Cannon’s is one of the first for the season. I love the premise of it with Maggie going to “war” and Will bound to stay home. Enjoy this insight in Julie’s characters:~
Brief physical description
Margaret Culpepper (aka Maggie) is a pretty, 18-year-old skinny white girl, with long reddish-brown hair, pale skin and freckles. She’s tiny, but powerful. Think Cate Blanchett in the movie Elizabeth – The Golden Age.
William Dove (aka Will) is Maggie’s best friend and the boy-next-door. He’s a classically handsome teenage male with an All-American smile and honey-chestnut colored hair. A childhood battle with polio has left Will with a pronounced limp and one hand that doesn’t always obey him. Think of John Schneider, the actor who played Bo Duke in the Duke’s of Hazzard TV show, except with hair that’s not blond.
Mr. Tyronious Byrd is an old Southern black gentleman (the teenagers consider him ‘ancient’) who struggles with rheumatoid arthritis. He has twinkly, compassionate eyes and he just exudes wisdom. Think of Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Maggie’s strength is her determination. You can’t tell the girl she can’t do something because she’s not going to back down once her mind is made up. Her weakness is attached to this same stubborn attitude: she’s mad at God for her mother’s untimely death and she’s not going to let go of her bitterness toward Him.
Will’s strength is his faith, his strong sense of loyalty, and his undying devotion to Maggie. He’s a fighter, and though crippled by his childhood battle with polio, he’s waging war from the homefront. His weakness is that he often succumbs to self-pity because he feels like less of a man and he longs to “go fight those Nazis” but his disabilities have rendered him 4-F, or medically unfit for service in the U.S. military.
Maggie’s quirk is that she just sticks her head in the sand and ignores stuff that makes her uncomfortable; letters from home, church services, God, etc…
Mr. Byrd has so many quirks he makes me smile to think about him. He won’t do a bit of work on Sundays and he carries his Bible in the bib pocket of his overalls and he doesn’t miss a chance to witness to anybody.
Inspiration for the Characters
My daughter, Iris, is part of my inspiration for Maggie. She’s a 98 lb, size 0, 21-year-old girl, and I don’t think Goliath would stand a chance against her! (My husband and I certainly don’t.) Maggie’s anger at God was inspired by my own questions with things I’ve struggled with (a head injury from a bike accident which means I can’t drive). While my struggle is very different from Maggie’s, I still question “WHY?” sometimes and realize that if a person never gets to that stage of surrendering to God, of seeing the silver-lining so to speak and knowing God uses all things for good for them that love Him, then they’re not ever going to have soul-peace. Maggie’s crippling fear of commitment, of letting her heart out there again, I see in LOTS of women I know – who’ve either lost someone to death or to divorce.
Background to the story
World War Two is raging and a strong sense of patriotism infiltrates everything in the small Georgia town of Watkinsville. Recycling for the war effort is encouraged, gasoline is rationed, along with meat and sugar, and relationships are torn apart as the men go off to serve. I didn’t want a predictable story, so I decided to let Maggie make an impulsive decision to join the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). She leaves for Boot Camp in New York, and because of his childhood battle with polio, Will stays home in Georgia to manage the family Christmas tree farm, and to listen as Mr. Byrd leads him along a spiritual journey which unfolds as he tells the young man a harrowing story from his own life.
Maggie’s spiritual journey was probably the hardest thing to write because of her stubbornness and her anger at God. She refuses to open Will’s letters and she refuses to attend church on the base where she serves as a mechanic. The casualty rate for the war makes her even more furious. Finally, she led me to a scene where I witnessed a very emotional testimony, and which I’m not exaggerating when I say I bawled the whole way through it. Talk about an exhausting, but satisfying job! : )
Thanks for inviting me here, Rel! It was fun to go back and visit with my characters.
A pleasure to have you, Julie Thanks for sharing.
On Monday the spotlight shines on Leanna Ellis’ Cousin It from her latest release, Facelift. This is one fun spotlight you don’t want to miss ~ it’s a first for Relz Reviewz and you’ll see why!
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