Saturday, January 11, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH CARA PUTMAN


  

Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. An award-winning author of seventeen books with more on the way, she is active in women's ministry at her church and is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

 S.S: How long have you been writing?


I’ve wanted to write for about as long as I can remember. As a 13 and 14 year old I tried my hand at writing historical fiction – one of the beauties of being homeschooled. I was also drawn to journalism and politics. God graciously opened doors in both fields, so I worked for a local TV affiliate as a college student and then worked on a campaign and in the conservative non-profit world following graduation. During this time I got married and then started law school. Throughout it all the desire to write never entirely disappeared. Instead, it would turn to warm coals only to flare to life every few years. When God’s time was right, He connected me with Colleen Coble and told me to tackle writing. The timing was great because I had two children and was working 4 days a week for a law firm. Eighteen months later I had a contract, and a year after that the first book, Canteen Dreams, released. It’s been a whirlwind since.


S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?


I don’t write full-time. I’m also an attorney and lecturer in law at Purdue University. I also homeschool my kiddos. So I have lots of different things going on.


S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?


There are still days I wonder if I’m a real author J But one amazing moment was when my debut novel won the ACFW Book of the Year for Short Historical. It was kind of a Sally Field moment: They like me, they really, really like me.


S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author? 


My family. My husband supported me from the moment I asked to go to my first ACFW conference. My mother-in-love has freed me to attend ACFW and other writing retreats. My family buys and gives away many of my books. And my kids say I’ll make the bestseller list. J They’ve all been amazing!


S.S:  Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?


I write historical WWII novels and romantic suspense/mysteries. I love a story that has layers and writing historicals allows me to weave the history into the story as a character.


S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?


My faith is an integral part of who I am. Even when I don’t think I’m writing a faith thread, it’s there. In fact, sometimes that’s my favorite part of  writing…discovering the thread as I’m writing and seeing how God’s slipped it in without my being aware of it. Love that!


S.S: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?


Teach. I love taking complicated subjects and make them easy to understand. I also love that I always have to learn. Right now I’m teaching a brand new class, so I’m as much of a student or more than my students!


S.S:  Tell us about your current release.


Shadowed by Grace focuses on some of the endeavors the Monuments Men undertook in Italy. I knew little of the Italian front and discovered a diary that gave voice to the Italian experience. That added with what I was learning about the efforts of the Monuments Men to save priceless monuments and paintings convinced me this was a story I wanted to write. Then I discovered the heroine and her search, and it became part of me. I love this story and am thrilled by the early reactions I’m hearing. Everyone can read the first chapter at http://www.caraputman.com/shadowed-grace/


S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?


I have deep respect and admiration for the men and women of the Greatest Generation, and I love telling their stories. Because of that, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas that will spark into a book. In the summer of 2010, I stumbled across a nonfiction book, Monuments Men, and was introduced to this small band of soldiers. Their stories captured me…and the art added a unique twist to the story. It became a story that burned in my heart to tell.


S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?


The heroine’s search is for her earthly father. And that required a certain level of brokenness between her parents that has overshadowed Rachel’s life. Writing her mother’s journal required putting myself in her mother’s shoes. What would it be like to be a young woman in Italy, the land of romance and love, in the early 1920s? What kind of strength would her mother have to come back to the States and forge a life for them that was the opposite of how she’d imagined her life? How would it impact Rachel to read those very passages in Italy while searching for the man who abandoned them?


It was hard to write at times because I know many people who have experienced that pain of abandonment. One of my heart’s cries is to see people reconciled with God and to understand that no matter what their earthly fathers did, their heavenly Father has promised He never leaves or forsakes them. This novel takes that to a much deeper place. A place that my heart longs to have others grasp and understand…in a way that only story can be heard.


S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?


Rachel Justice, the heroine, who was actually the last character to come to me. I expected her to be Italian, but it didn’t fit. As I kept digging, I discovered she was a spunky American photojournalist on a search for her father. What she doesn’t realize is it’s a search that shadows her search for God.


This woman is willing to go into the heart of danger to try to save her mother, the only other person in her life. She’s on a search that seems doomed to fail from the start, but she is tenacious and won’t let go. She’s also an artist with her camera, and that makes her more understanding of what the Monuments Men are trying to do. She became a complex and rich character that I loved writing.


S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?


There are so many characters, it’s hard to pick one that I don’t like…especially since I try to give every character likeable features. But Tyler Salmon is someone who carries an attitude around. As the book goes on, you begin to understand why, but the attitude borders on hard to like.


S.S: What are you working on now?


My next project is a joint venture with Tricia Goyer and Sarah Sundin entitled Treetops Glisten.


This collection is such fun! I love Tricia and Sarah and their WWII novels, so it was a joy to work with them on this collection. We got on the phone and started brainstorming a collection of stories that would fit with the type of WWII novels we each write. “Should be near a big city but have a small town feel.” “Probably located in the Midwest.” “Needs war industry and a university.” I started laughing as I listened, because they were describing Lafayette, Indiana, where I live.


It was fun to work in collaboration on everything from where they would live, to family timelines, to sibling order, etc. Writing is so often solitary, but writing this collection allowed us to step outside of that. Sarah came out in September to do some on-site research. Tricia will be here in February, so it will be fun to take her to the candy shop my heroine works at, drive her by the Turner home, and more. 


S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.   


Visited Italy and the Normandy beaches. I hope to do that someday – hopefully in the next couple years.


S.S:  What is the silliest thing you have ever done? 


Um, I’m not really silly, but when I worked at a TV station, I did a stand-up on the lap of the Easter bunny. I think my photographer really enjoyed that!


S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?


Law school. Really stretched my mind…kind of like my current MBA classes. A follow up would be training for my first mini-marathon. I’d just miscarried and decided that if I couldn’t be pregnant, I’d train for a mini in three months. I wasn’t a runner then, so that was a good push!


S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?


People can connect with me online at: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.


S.S.: Anything else you’d like to share with us?  


Thanks for having me!

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Cara's book, Shadowed by Grace, just leave a comment, along with your contact information!


13 comments:

  1. Hi, Cara,

    I enjoyed reading the interview and learning more about you! I had never heard of the monument men and have placed this title on my wish list. God bless you as you write for him.

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  2. Fascinating interview. This young woman is amazing. I am so impresded. However, I will now go crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head. I feel like a sluggard in comparison...this woman has accomplished so much in her young life and she's handling so many things at once. How does she do it w/out collapsing?

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  3. Would so love to win this book. Bonnie Traher momtr3@yahoo.com 26 N Mill St,West Nanticoke,Pa 18634

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  4. Would love to win. Angela in KY angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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  5. I agree with Mary - Cara MUST be a person who loves to stay busy, hard to see how she finds time to do it all! SO love that she like to continually learn, and the part her faith plays in her writing.

    Have never heard of the Monuments Men, and love WWII novels. Love the story line of "Shadowed By Grace" - thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  6. Great interview! I learned so many new things I did not know about Cara.
    Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

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  7. I loved this wonderful interview and learning more about Cara Putman. What an amazing woman with incredible talent! I would love to win a copy of SHADOWED BY GRACE and thank you so much for the opportunity.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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  8. What a great interview! Cara Putman is one amazing woman. Her talents abound and I would love to be the winner of her beautiful book. Thank you for the opportunity.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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  9. Hello Cara. Very interesting. Did you by chance go to a Christian school? Wondered because of graduating at 16. One of my girls did and graduated one year early.And graduating College when only 20. No wonder you made it as a Attorney. Very smart lady. I love to hear conversations about WW ll. I remember all of the talk as a 3rd and 4th grader about the war since my older brother was in it. He is now 88 yr. old. brother-in-laws, cousins, friends were also serving. We were living in Houston, Tx. then so daddy could work in the Shipyard. Moved there from a very small tow,. I would love to win your book. Thanks to the SuspenseSisters for having you. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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  10. Loved learning more about your writing and your life, Cara! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  11. I believe I will need to read some of your books. They sound fascinating.

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  12. I had never heard of Monuments Men prior to finding out about this novel, but it sounds like such a fascinating piece of history. Great interview. Thanks!

    natalieflores@live.com

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  13. Have not read your book..but am going to look for it

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