Galestown native's 40th high school reunion inspires Hallmark movie

By Debra R. Messick, Special To Dorchester Banner
Posted 12/7/22

Career nursing professional Robin Wooten always enjoys Christmas movie season. But this year may turn out to be her favorite.

On Saturday at 8 p.m., Hallmark Channel will air “Christmas …

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Galestown native's 40th high school reunion inspires Hallmark movie

Posted

Career nursing professional Robin Wooten always enjoys Christmas movie season. But this year may turn out to be her favorite.

On Saturday at 8 p.m., Hallmark Channel will air “Christmas Class Reunion,” based on a story husband Paul originally published and the couple later adapted.

It all began in 2017, when the Wootens returned to Dorchester County for Paul's 40th North Dorchester High School reunion. 

Born and raised in a Galestown farming family, college and work took him first to Kentucky then Missouri, and now Florida. But his ties to the area remain strong, with visits to his parents, in their 80s, and his brother, still running the family farm, every few months. And, of course, he made it back for the reunion.

Much more than a trip down memory lane, the experience lit a creative spark within the retired educator turned writer. "There's a story in this," Paul recalled thinking; it became his seventh novel, “Christmas Class Reunion.”  

Published in 2018, the story takes place in a county called Dorset. But the author is quick to point out that the book's plot and cast of characters came purely from his own fertile imagination.

Two years later, the couple decided to begin collaborating on romance novels under the pen name Robin Paul. 

Their first book, “Christmas Presence: A Garland Grove Holiday Romance,” inspired by Robin's nursing background, was published in 2021. This November, the second Garland Grove novel, “Christmas Carl,” which featured a Nashville angle, came out. So, too, did a third novel titled “Christmas Class Reunion: Inspired by the Hallmark Channel Original Movie.”

In a plot twist seemingly plucked from the holiday film genre, a Hallmark movie producer messaged the couple out of the blue on Facebook, indicating interest in Wooten's “Christmas Class Reunion” as the basis for a possible film.

Once Robin's research confirmed that the offer was genuine, the wheels began turning, but their first year under contract passed with no progress. By the following February and March though, plans to begin filming in Langley, B.C., outside Vancouver, were underway.

"We're just normal folks, and this whole experience has been over the moon," Robin said. 

Stressing that the movie is an adaptation of the original story, streamlined to fit Hallmark's “happy ending” niche, the Wootens were, nevertheless, thrilled to be invited to the set for a week, able to watch while the story was brought to life.

"The crew had director's chairs with our names on them, and were always bringing us snacks," Robin recalled. She was especially excited to meet the movie's female star, Aimee Teegarden, who had also appeared in the TV series “Friday Night Lights,” a favorite of hers and her son's (the couple has four children and five grandchildren; youngest daughter Allison, a former wedding planner turned teacher, helps run their social media platforms).

Despite the exciting circumstances, much of the day-to-day movie making involved lengthy, tedious takes required for even a few minutes of actual film. But the overall experience was fascinating, and the couple was grateful for the time and opportunity to explore the picturesque town and nearby mountains.

Whether or not any of their other stories arouse similar holiday movie interest, the couple looks forward to bringing out a new Christmas-themed romance each year.

For more information, visit robinpaul.com.

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