Brenda Anderson is the author of the short story, Milkshakes & Mittens. She is also the author of Abish: Faith Among the Lamanites.
LDSP: Hi, Brenda. Hope your day is going well. In my family, it’s common to ask, “Whatcha’ know that’s new or different?” How would you answer that question today?
Brenda: According to my three-year old, “Glue makes me clean.”
LDSP: Funny! So tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?
Brenda: Tolleson, Phoenix, and Avondale, Arizona—all without moving.
LDSP: How did you manage that??
Brenda: The different cities must have really liked (or disliked) our house; they kept changing their boundaries around us!
LDSP: Sort of like ward boundaries, huh? So do you still live in the same area?
Brenda: I live 2.2 miles from my childhood home with my husband and seven children—five boys and two girls. My husband works hard at a warehouse loading trucks so I can stay home with the kiddos, but he says no one could pay him enough to do my job. Although some days, I’d gladly take his…
LDSP: Seven kids?! Wow! Do you even have time for hobbies?
Brenda: Yes. I like to do jigsaw puzzles, volleyball, and go to Arizona Diamondbacks games. (I’d prefer seeing the Detroit Tigers, but it’s a bit of a drive from here.)
LDSP: I’m not a big sports fan, but I do like jigsaw puzzles. My daughter and I had a tradition of doing a huge puzzle every Christmas. But then she grew up and got married, so I don’t do that much anymore. I got hooked on puzzles in kindergarten. How about you?
Brenda: When I was two, almost three, I insisted that my mom let me do a 200-piece jigsaw puzzle. After I begged, and pleaded (and probably whined and cried) she decided to let me, thinking that I would get bored after a few minutes. I sat on our kitchen floor for hours until I had completed the puzzle. I still have it in my closet, minus a few pieces.
LDSP: That is amazing! You could be a professional puzzle-doer. (Is there such a thing, I wonder?) What got you interested in writing?
Brenda: My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hill, had us turn a squiggly line into a picture each week and write a story about it. I found that I really enjoyed the writing part of the assignment; the drawing, not so much.
LDSP: What inspired you to write Milkshakes & Mittens?
Brenda: When I was a young bride living 900 miles from home in a small town of strangers, a woman in our ward had a pair of beautiful gray suede boots that I thought were absolutely beautiful. I didn’t know her very well, but on the Sunday before Christmas she gave me a wrapped gift. When I opened the box on Christmas morning, one of the few gifts under our sparsely decorated tree, I found the boots. I’ve always wanted to share that story somehow.
LDSP: Sometimes the Lord blesses us through others, doesn’t He? I love those little hugs from heaven. Aside from this story, do you have other published stories or books?
Abish: Faith among the Lamanites.
LDSP: I actually knew that. Gorgeous cover. In fact, it won my 2009 Best Historical Cover. What inspired you to write about Abish?
Brenda: Alma 19:16. Whenever I read that verse, I wondered who Abish was and what kind of vision her father had that convinced them to believe in the Nephite religion.
LDSP: Writers can find inspiration everywhere, can’t they? What are you working on now?
Brenda: A trilogy that follows some of the characters from my first book and covers a lot of the history of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or People of Ammon.
LDSP: That sounds interesting. Good luck on that project. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to work on it before the holidays hit. I can’t imagine what it must be like to plan a Christmas for seven children. Do they still believe in Santa?
Brenda: Four of them still do. My husband broke the news to the older kids when they turned 12.
LDSP: Well, don't let those younger ones read this blog then. When and how did you discover the truth about Santa?
Brenda: My older brother told me when I was five as we sat outside on my parents’ steps. I was so crushed, I turned around and told my three-year old sister. Scarred her for life, so she claims!
LDSP: Hmmm. My younger sister makes the same claim. Have you started any fun traditions with your children?
Brenda: On the Monday before Christmas, we like to have a Jerusalem dinner. We have fish, breads, cheeses and fruit, with no light except flickering candles and reverent Christmas music playing in the background. We also have pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.
LDSP: Pumpkin cinnamon rolls? Yum! What’s your favorite part of Christmas?
Brenda: The quiet, late night hours spent with my husband on Christmas Eve as we assemble Santa’s gifts and stuff our kids’ stockings.
LDSP: What books have most influenced your life most?
Brenda: Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time books. Even though I haven’t read any of the books for years, I can still remember the first line from A Wind in the Door: “There are dragons in the twins’ vegetable garden.” What a great beginning.
LDSP: Yes! I love that one! What book are you reading now?
Brenda: Septimus Heap Book Six: Darke by Angie Sage, but I’m anxiously waiting for my husband to finish reading Amber House by Kelly Moore so I can get my hands on it!
LDSP: Both books sound good (I looked them up on Amazon). I’ll add them to my reading list. Thanks for the interview and have a great Christmas!