Cara Lynn JamesCara Lynn James writes inspirational romances about wonderful women who find their way. Connecting faith with romance is her specialty, which is why I simply had to ask her a few questions about her writing and her sparetime. (Photo: Copyright Amber Zimmermann)

Thank you for taking the time for this interview.
You’re writing inspirational romance, a genre that has been neglected for a long time in Germany, but has now been found by several publishers. How did you start in this particular genre?

When I started writing ten years ago inspirational fiction was just beginning to become very popular in the United States. I’d already joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and one of their local chapters which met about 65 miles from where I live in northwest Florida. We’d meet every month and discuss different writing topics. I met lots of serious authors and want-to-be authors who helped me learn the craft of writing. They really inspired me to continue learning and practicing. We helped each other and some of us became close friends. It’s hard to soldier on without encouragement! I chose to write Christian romance because my stories fit the genre and it’s where I feel most comfortable.

Your trilogy about the „Ladies of Summerhill“ starts with „Eine Liebe in Summerhill“ (Love on a Dime). In Germany we just have the first novel, so when can we expect the next two novels?

From what I understand it’s up to the German publisher and American publisher to decide on that. If readers in Germany would like to read the last two books in German they should write to the publisher and let them know.

Why did you choose to write a trilogy?

My editor suggested I write three novels connected by the mansion (Summerhill) where the characters live during the summer season. Some of the characters make cameo appearances in all the books. The stories take place during the summers of 1899, 1900 and 1901, but the families living at Summerhill are for the most part unrelated and their stories are very different. But they all involve romances. Personally, I enjoy reading trilogies so this was a good format for me.

What about the time you write of (19./20. century) captured your interest?

My mother was from Newport, Rhode Island. It was the most elite American summer resort during the last half of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th century. I grew up about 100 miles away in Connecticut. When I was young we toured the mansions which were open to the public. I was fascinated by the size of these summer homes (practically palaces), the number of servants to took to run them, and the vast amounts of money spent on clothes and entertainment. Of course the servants were poorly paid! I wondered what it must have been like living there during their heyday. I always wanted to write a story about the era, so at a young age I started collecting books about the society of that time period. I love the costumes, the settings, the lifestyle, the privilege. It reminds me of an American Downton Abbey without the aristocratic titles. I guess this class was the American answer to British nobility. After seeing Downton I realized the lives of the servants downstairs were just as interesting as the lives of the aristocrats upstairs!

How do you organize your workload?

When I’m on a deadline I become very goal oriented. I know how much I have to get done every day, and I do it. I’m afraid of getting behind so I work hard to keep up. When I’m not contracted for a book I write what I want and experiment with character and plot ideas that interest me. Unfortunately, I don’t stick to a project as well and I don’t accomplish nearly as much. But I have more fun! I do some social media on most days, and work on a manuscript for a while every day at least for a few hours.

I do e-mail, read blogs, answer mail etc. in the morning and usually write more on my manuscript later in the day. Writing has a lot of deadlines so that keeps me fairly well organized.

Do you find the time to read? What were the last few novels or comics or audiobooks that you enjoyed?

I make the time to read because I’m addicted to reading! Since I’m not a morning person I usually read a novel for part of the morning or do research and social media. Just keeping up with the changes in the publishing world is a big job! I usually can’t work on a manuscript in the morning because I’m practically ‚brain dead.‘ I like to ease into the day. Reading also gets me into the mood for writing. Sometimes I’d rather continue reading than start to write and that can be a problem especially if I’m on a deadline.

I enjoyed reading The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff and Habits of the House by Fay Weldon recently. Usually I read in the evenings or when I need a break from writing. I always have a book or my Kindle with me.

You write that Christian faith should be included in every aspect of life. How do you yourself live by that credo?

My answer is simple. I try to treat people the way I like to be treated — with respect and kindness. What I believe is important, but how I treat others is equally as important to me.

What project is next on your list? What can your readers expect from you?

I’m going to continue writing turn-of-the-century stories. The manuscript I’m working on now involves middle class, ordinary people, instead of the super rich. It’s fun for a writer to use different settlings, different type plots, and different situations. For now I’m staying with historical romances.

Your grandfather’s family and your grandmother were originally from Germany. Do you have any connections left in that area?

I have a cousin and his family who live in Kiel. My ancestors originally came from Hessen, Kassel, Bremen, and Schleswig Holstein. They all emigrated to America during the last half of the 19th century. I never thought to ask my grandparents why their families left Germany. It’s too bad I didn’t think to ask. They all spoke both German and English, but my father’s generation only spoke English.

Is there something you’d like to share with your German readers?

I’m so glad you’ve discovered inspirational fiction! Years ago I toured Germany and really enjoyed seeing where my grandmother came from. You have a very beautiful country with a very rich history. I’d love to return and see the mountains, and the towns from the middle ages and some of the cities and countryside that I missed.

Thank you for your time.