Tell us about your book.
“O Christmas Tree” is the story of the Marshalls – Mr. Marshall, Mrs. Marshall and their daughter, Victoria. They love their holiday traditions, especially the tradition of decorating their Christmas tree. But to their surprise, their tree, Treena, is no ordinary tree, and when she thinks that they have their priorities skewed, she comes to life to teach them what Christmas is really about!
What inspired this book?
It came about through prayer which is how most of my books have come about. One year around Christmas time I was praying, and I just couldn't get the song “O Christmas Tree” out of my head. I thought about how absurd the words were if you really think about them, and I realized that that's how so much of Christmas is today. We are celebrating the wrong things, and sometimes we get so wrapped up in that we don't even realize it.
I was preparing to write a sketch for an upcoming church event so I decided to make it about a Christmas tree who comes to life to tell people about the true meaning of Christmas. I called the Arts Director and found out that the theme for the event was “One Candle.” If you read the book, you will see that theme weaved in. So the story started out as a sketch and was shaped to fit a particular event. It was only later that I began to think of it as a children's book. Adapting it to a book format was actually more challenging than I expected, and there were some parts I had to really wrestle with. But the best part about adapting it was that the character of Treena the Christmas Tree really came to life. Before it became a book, the tree didn't have a name or nearly as much personality as she does now!
How long have you been writing?
For as long as I can remember! When I was a child, I carried around little notebooks where I wrote stories. I can remember my teachers assigning one or two page writing assignments and I'd come in the next day with 13 or 14 pages because I just couldn't stop writing. In high school, I wrote poetry. In college, I started writing short stories/children's stories and dramatic sketches. After college, while living in Spain, I began writing flash fiction and personal essays. Today I write pretty much all of the above as well as doing some writing for magazines, and I've also written a novel. Although I suppose it should have been obvious, it was only recently that I realized that I have always been a writer!
What is your favorite character trait to write about?
I like to write about perseverance, resilience and unfailing love. It's also fun to create a character that has some spunk and attitude, like Treena.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope that readers will take away the centrality of Jesus to the Christmas celebration. It's not that we can't have our fun traditions, but these can't be allowed to overshadow the real reason for the season. Also, the greatest gift we can give at Christmas will never be under the tree. The greatest gift we can give is to share the light of Christ with someone else. Jesus said that if his followers didn't proclaim His name, then the rocks would cry out. In this case, the Christmas tree will cry out!
What is your favorite season?
I really love the Christmas season if you haven't already guessed! There is something so magical about the significance of it all, and I love the depth of the classic hymns and the reflection they inspire. I also appreciate the moments where time seems to slow down and people have more time for each other. I wish it could be like that all year long! But having said all that, I'm just about always cold, so the cold temps of an Ohio winter are not really my thing!
If you could travel back in time when and where would you go?
Wow! That's a tough question, and I've never really thought about it before. I'm usually too busy picking places I want to travel today! I am a notorious globetrotter! But I'm studying the book of Acts right now, and I think I would love to travel back to the days of the early church. I'm sure it wouldn't be an easy trip, but I would love to meet Peter, Paul, Barnabus and the others and see how their faith, trust and dependence upon the Holy Spirit ignited a powerful movement that is still going on today.
What project are you currently working on?
Right now I am actually working on making “O Christmas Tree” an interactive storytelling program. In addition to my writing, I have a theatrical storytelling company where I visit schools, libraries, churches, etc, performing multicultural folktales as well as my own stories. So I'm hoping to begin taking “O Christmas Tree” out for performances by the end of November.
Also, I just finished the second or third edit (I've lost count!) of my first YA novel entitled “Carlos and the Corral of Forgotten Ones.” It's based on a children's home in Paraguay that I stayed at a few years ago, and it follows the life journey of one child from the day he's dropped off there by his older sister after the death of his parents to how he is shaped and changed through the people he meets and experiences he has there. It's a story of personal growth and transformation, and I'm very passionate about it because I'm passionate about the children I met there. Their stories had a profound impact upon me and if it weren't for that, I don't think I could have stayed the course and finished such a huge project. 300 pages is big stuff to a children's book author! So now begins the new job of looking for a publisher for this book. . .
In the meantime, I am working on a new children's book called “Prince Jazreel and the Domain of Darkness” which was inspired from Colossians 1:13. It's a fantasy love story about a great prince and a very unlikely princess.
Lindsay is giving away one free copy of O Christmas Tree. At least 10 people need to leave comments for there to be a contest. Please include your email address. OR you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "contest" in the subject line. Winner will be announced November 14th!
Link to my blog: http://www.lindsaybonilla.blogspot.com/
Link to my author/writer/general website: http://www.lindsaybonilla.com/
Link to my storytelling website: http://www.worldofdiff.org/
Lindsay also, wrote, co-produced and starred in Flight To India, a fun childrens movie. Check this out!