This week the Man Writing a Romance welcomes MJ Schiller to talk about her Christmas novella Upon a Midnight Clear, which delivers everything on your holiday list: Snow, a cute kid, a hunky rescue squad guy, murder and dollops of hanky-panky.
MJ is a romance-writin’ lunch lady from central Illinois who also just released a new novel, Between Rock and a Hard Place, in which the body count doubles, the heroine is a rock star and the hunky guy with the rock-hard abs is a cop instead of an EMT.

She says that most of her books are not “outright romantic suspense,” but she almost always has “someone with a gun, or sword, threatening the happiness of my young couple.”

Enough back story…let’s get right to the ’splainin’:

1. The word “panties” appears in Upon a Midnight Clear three times, which isn’t a lot by ManWAR standards. I figured you were trying to give someone a subtle hint about what you’d like to find in your stocking on Dec. 25. Panties would make a great gift, right?
Funny you should ask, because it brings to mind Christmases long, long ago. When we were kids we used to beg our parents to let us open one Christmas present early. When my mom finally caved in, as she always did, (we could be very…persuasive), I would already have the package all picked out, having studied the pile of gifts over the previous weeks. Of course I would go for the most artfully decorated package. (I’m way into pretty wrapping jobs. It takes me forever to wrap gifts because I have to have the perfect tag, bow, and often some other decorative touch [jingle bell, mitten, whatever]. I probably have about 30 kinds of wrapping paper and as many ribbons. I have a gazillion tags, because they are the hardest of all to match up.)
Anyway—one year there was this dynamite package. It was a gift bag, actually, and had the cutest little stuffed penguin clipped to the handle. You could squeeze where the penguins “shoulder blades” should be and its flippers would open and close so you could pinch it onto whatever you wanted to hang it on. Surely something way cool had to be in that package!
What a disappointment! But to answer your question, David, nowadays a nice pair of Victoria’s Secret panties would go over well!
2. One Christmas season I wore a plus-size Santa costume and roamed around a department store telling people about a new big and tall men’s section. I didn’t score with any perky redheads like the heroine of Upon a Midnight Clear. Or any brunettes or blondes, either. Would it have helped if I’d been moonlighting as a cop or an EMT?
Without question.

3. What is it with women and cops and EMTs?
Duh, David. 😉 They are usually built! Hefting equipment, lifting stretchers, and all the other labor involved in their jobs keeps them fit. And I think they have to meet certain physical requirements every so often.
Second, though we women love our independence we still like the idea of being rescued. I think it can be romantically equated with a show of love, much like a knight jousting for his lady’s favor. The idea that someone would put his life in jeopardy to save you is a pretty heady concept. Plus I believe it goes back to primitive times when someone who could keep you alive came in handy. AND, someone willing to take risks like firefighters might be adventurous in…other aspects of his life.
4. Upon a Midnight Clear takes place at Christmastime. Was that intentional, or did it just work out that way?
Absolutely intentional. I first wrote it for a submission request that called for a romantic suspense with a Santa figure as one of the main characters (whether that be the good guy or the bad guy). I like the title because while the song is about a peaceful arrival on a clear night, mine is about a bad guy sneaking into the heroine’s house and I think that gives the title an ominous tone.
Thank you so much for having me today! I really enjoyed answering your thoughtful and inventive questions!

And thank you, MJ, for answering my inventive questions.

So, all you ManWARriors, would you not read a romance about a hot lunch mom who solves murders at Christmas? Guess I should’ve asked MJ when we can expect that book to come out. Until it does, here’s a link to the books MJ has already written.

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