This week I am happy to welcome author Cara Lynn James to Reviews By Jane!
First off, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and
something about you that might surprise your readers?
I’m originally from Connecticut, but I’ve lived in Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Texas, California, Virginia, Vermont and now Florida.
My husband and I were both naval officers. I stayed on active duty for
eight years and he retired after twenty. Our two children are grown
and I have one young grandson with another one on the way.
For several years I owned a bookstore in Vermont. I suddenly had so
many books to read, but no time to read them!
Oh that's cool! I'd love to own a book store someday!
What inspired you to write Love On Assignment?
This was the first book I ever wrote. It started out as a short
contemporary. Much to my surprise it came very close to being
published. I’m glad it didn’t because the book really wasn’t ready for publication and neither was I! I went on to write Love on a Dime, and then another historical that will never see the light of day. Later I went back and began to change Love on Assignment into a historical. The plot generally remained the same, but putting it back 100 plus years changed so much. Women were much more restricted in the Gilded Age and society was completely different. For example, instead of living in a garage apartment, my heroine, Charlotte, now was part of a large staff living in a Newport mansion. It made me so aware of how quickly life changes in so many ways.
Wow that's awesome! I loved the setting you used.
What prompted you to write in 1900's Rhode Island?
I’ve always loved Newport! My mother is from there so I spent a
lot of time visiting Newport during my childhood. We often toured
the mansions and they captured my imagination. Living in the lap
of such luxury was amazing to me. I also wondered what the lives
of the people in that elite society were like and how their wealth
affected them. I expected their fortunes would bring them happiness
or at least free them from the worries the rest of us have, but that’s
not what I found. I enjoyed reading about the New York/Newport
society, so over the years I collected lots of books that I later used as
reference material for the Ladies of Summerhill series.
I once lived in Newport. While I didn't like it then, I think I would find Newport 100 years ago quite charming!
Has your faith influenced your writings?
My faith causes me to look at the world in a particular way and this
influences what I write and of course, why I write. Faith also gives me
themes for my stories.
I loved how you incorporate Christianity into your books.
Did you base any of your characters on people you really know?
No. In the book I’m writing now (working title: A Perfect/Imperfect
Match) I did base a character on someone I know. But I changed
many things about her so she won’t recognize herself. I hope.
Sometimes I combine characteristics of people I know, but by the
time I’m finished an entirely new character has emerged.
Which book that you've written was your favorite to write?
I’ve enjoyed writing all four of them. Love on Assignment took me
the longest to write because I changed it so drastically. After a while
I wanted to move on to something else. But it’s also special because
I learned so much by converting it from one location to another and
from one time period to another.
Love on a Dime is a favorite because it was the first book published.
Love by the Book was the first novel I wrote completely from scratch
after I was published. I sold it as part of the three book series before I
wrote it. So I have to say it was the most challenging. But I proved to
myself I could write fast enough to meet a deadline.
When you started writing, where did you begin? With an outline?
Or did you just jump into it and let the story form as you wrote?
When I first started to write I only had a vague idea where I was
going. I usually got really lost about a quarter to a third of the
way through. So I started making a skeletal outline. But I still kept
following rabbit trails. That added a lot of unnecessary time and
writing to the process. I’d write scenes I hated to cut, but I really had
to. Before I was published I just followed where the characters led
me. But now I have tight deadlines and I can’t wander around looking
for the story. And editors want a logical synopsis, so I’ve had to
learn to structure a book ahead of when I actually write it. When I do
it that way I don’t have as much trouble with the middle. It’s hard to
organize my thoughts at the very beginning, so usually I write at least
a chapter or two to get to know my characters better. They always
surprise me. That’s part of the fun. I don’t write a detailed outline
even now because I think of better scenes etc. as I write. I know
where I’m going, but I’m flexible about how I get there.
Sounds like the way I started. Now I write the outline as I go. :)
You've written and published several books. Which one required
the most research? Which took the longest time to write?
I think Love on Assignment took the longest time to write because
I had to change a lot. By the time I finished it was really a different
|Shenae Grimes as Charlotte|
Who would you have play Charlotte and Daniel if your book was
made into a movie?
Hmm. I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions?
I think Shenar Grimes would make a good Charlotte but I'm not sure about Daniel!
Who is your favorite author?
Maeve Binchy is probably my favorite. She writes Irish
contemporaries. I also love historical mysteries so I’ll add Rhys
Bowen, Victoria Thompson, Jacqueline Winspear. C.J. Sansom and
Lauren Willig. I have so many favorite Christian authors I can’t list
them all. I know I’d probably forget too many.
Do you have another book in the making? Can you give us some
insight on what it's about?
My third and last book in the Ladies of Summerhill series is Love by the Book. It will be released in July. It’s a sweet marriage-of-convenience story set in the lavish homes of 1901 Rhode Island.
Melinda Hollister's sister and Nick Bryson's brother tragically die in a train wreck,
leaving behind three-year-old daughter Nell. Much to Melinda's surprise, she and
Nick become co-guardians of the child. The three of them spend July and August
at Summerhill, a seaside mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, where they try to
get better acquainted and work out a solution to their dilemma with the help of
Though neither loves the other, Melinda and Nick marry to provide a stable home
for her. Their emerging feelings for each other soon strengthen as they focus their
attention on the rescued child they mutually adore.
Although Melinda and Nick are both Christians, they've never before taken the
Bible as a serious guidebook for their lives. But now they admit they love each
other and that their love is based "on the Book." Following principles written in
the no man seek his own good, but the good of every other man." Accepting this
precept grounded in mutual love.
I’m in the process of writing A Perfect/Imperfect Match. It’s also about wealthy
Gilded Age society people, but it takes place in the Adirondack Mountains of New York during the winter or spring of 2012.
Ooh both sound great!
How can my reader's reach you?
I’m at www.caralynnjames.com and at seekerville.blogspot.com
Thanks for visiting Reviews By Jane!
Not only has Cara been gracious enough to allow me to interview her, but she is also willing to giveaway her newest release - Love On Assignment - to one lucky commenter! USA ONLY! Enter soon! This giveaway ends on April 1st!
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