Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.
About Little Shepherd
Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior’s birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?
Thanks for having me here today. Little Shepherd tells the story of the first Christmas through the eyes of a shepherd boy in the fields outside of Bethlehem. Obed is tending his first flock when the angel appears. He wants to join the others to see the newborn King, but he’s afraid something will happen to his sheep if he leaves them alone.
Some wise words from his father help convince him, but Obed is anxious to return to the fields after meeting the Holy Family. What he discovers is that it is a night of miracles.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
There are really only two in Little Shepherd—Obed and his father. Obed is very responsible for his young age of five and is determined not to let anything happen to his sheep. He knows how much his family depends upon them for food and clothing.
His father and the others witness the angel’s appearance. He is the one who suggests they visit the newborn King. His actions that night surprise Obed a bit, but like a good son he obeys his father, despite his anxiety.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
In this instance, Obed is imaginary, but I can see Obed’s father having been the shepherd who said, “Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.”
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Typically, when I’m working on something, I have a basic idea and then I let things happen as they may. My original idea is rarely what the finished manuscript ends up looking like.
With Little Shepherd, I knew I wanted it to be about a young shepherd who visits the Savior on the first Christmas, but the first draft had no conflict. I had to talk it through with a writing friend a bit to discover what Obed’s conflict would be.
Q: Your book is set outside and in Bethlehem. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
God dictated the setting for this one.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
It does because of the need for historical accuracy.
Q: Open the book to page 9. What is happening?
Obed is visiting with the Holy Family. He sees that everything is just as the angel had told them. He hears the wolves howling in the distance but none of the other shepherds, including his father, seem concerned.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Off in the distance, a wolf howled. Obed moved closer to his flock, scanning the hills for any sign of a pack that might race in and steal his sheep. His family depended upon the sheep for food and their wool for clothing. No sheep would be lost under his watch.
He shivered inside his cloak. While the days were getting warmer, the nights still chilled him. He walked over to the large fire blazing inside the pit. He rubbed his hands together and held them up to the fire to warm them.
Above him, the sky twinkled with millions of stars. Obed couldn’t remember a night so clear.
Suddenly, a bright light filled the sky.
Obed trembled. “Father, what is happening?”
His father dropped to the ground, his right hand blocking his eyes from the intense light.
Obed pulled the edges of his cloak closer to his face as he squinted up at the mysterious form hovering overhead. He shivered, but this time it was not because of the cold.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Cheryl. We wish you much success!
Thanks again for having me. I hope your readers will stop by my new blog dedicated to the book, which can be found at http://littleshepherdchildrensbook.blogspot.com/. There’s a video trailer for Little Shepherd in the sidebar.