|Stars in the Night|
Cara C. Putman
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During World War II, attorney Audra Schaeffer travels with the Hollywood Victory Caravan---but she's more interested in finding her sister's killer than selling war bonds. Then two people are found dead on the train, including star Robert Garfield's ex-wife. Are the deaths related to her sister's? Could the murderer be the man Audra loves? 320 pages, softcover.
Cara Putman is an attorney, wife, mom, women's ministry leader, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband, and kids, that is. For years she asked God if this dream of writing was from Him. Her life was full. She went to college (Go Huskers!), moved to the Washington, DC area, married the man of her dreams, worked in the non-profit world, went to George Mason Law School at night while working, and then started having children. Her life was far from empty, but the dream of writing historical fiction wouldn’t die. After moving to Indiana she met Colleen Coble who put her on the writing path. In her "spare" time she serves as membership officer for American Christian Fiction Writers and adviser to the Indiana chapter.
Favorite Verse: Psalm 37:4( NIV): "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
This verse is special to me because of the promise as I chase God and seek to know Him and become like Him, that He will change me until my desires match His. There’s no better place to be than lined up with His plans and desires for my life.
Our Interview with Cara Putman
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a wife, mom, attorney, homeschool teacher, Bible study leader, and all around crazy woman who lives in Indiana with my husband and kids. I'm an honors graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and George Mason University School of Law. I inhale books and have always been a voracious reader
How did you get started writing Christian fiction?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was a teenager. When I was 14, my mom let me try my hand at writing books as part of my English curriculum. I also wrote my favorite authors (Janette Oke, Michael Phillips, Frank Perretti, and others). A couple of Christmases ago, my mom gave me a scrapbook filled with the letters and encouragement I received from those authors.
But in 2005, I attended a booksigning in my hometown. Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter and Diann Hunt were there. Colleen and I were chatting when my husband leaned into the conversation. He asked Colleen if I'd told her I wanted to be a writer. The rest is history. Colleen took me under her wing, and I started writing. A year later I receive my first contract and a year after that my first book, Canteen Dreams, released.
What inspired your interest and passion for fiction?
Stories allow us to escape to another place. We can get swept away by the challenges and experiences of other people. Yet at the same time, God can use fiction to teach us things that we might otherwise be closed to. Fiction is powerful, and I love the process of creating characters and settings.
How did you come up with the concept for Stars in the Night?
It was time to create a new World War II series. I usually start with setting, and then the concept flows from that. Because I knew I wanted Stars in the Night to be romantic suspense, once I had the setting, I started thinking about the characters. What would happen if a woman suspects something is wrong with her sister who has moved to Hollywood? Then against all common sense that woman heads to Hollywood to search for her. Add in a trainload of rising stars, all of whom are suspects. Kind of an Orient Express idea. Then more people die and the need to discover the killer ratchets up. And Audra resists falling in love because Robert is a movie star and might be the killer. It was a fun book to write.
How did you choose the location for the setting?
I'd already written two series of books set in Nebraska and Ohio during World War II, and was beginning to think of the next setting. My husband is a huge World War II history buff, too, so we were talking about unusual homefront settings that people might not immediately think of. I thought Hollywood would be fun. You've got glamour, glitz and stars. But you also had the dichotomy of stars who abandoned Hollywood to serve, others who stayed, and those who served through organizations like the USO.
How long did Stars in the Night take you to complete?
I started talking to my editor in July, actually received the contract in October and turned the book in February 1. So it took about four months to write. And then there were a couple rounds of edits.
Do you have a favorite character Stars in the Night? Why?
I love Audra, but Victoria was a close runner up. Audra steps out of her comfort zone and fights people's expectations to do what she thinks is right. She gives up her dream to find her sister and has a core tenacity that I hope I have. Victoria is a rising star who is filled with charm and a steadiness I didn't expect. I've been surprised by how much people are drawn to her.
How much research did Stars in the Night take?
Stars in the Night required an immense amount of research. Because the stars board a train that heads to Washington, D.C., and then travels through southern cities, not only did I have to research Hollywood, I also had to research each of the other settings. It's very important to me to get the details right. For example, I'd assumed I would use Ford's Theater in D.C., a historic, intimate theater. Instead, as I researched I learned it wasn't restored until after the war, and was basically used as storage. Then I turned to the National Theatre, and learned that it had a free schedule right when I needed it to. Hallelujah! I also had to research the Hollywood studio system, and get an understanding of how that worked, even though that will be more pivotal in future books.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Stars in the Night?
While researching hotels the stars could stay at in Atlanta, I learned that the Winecoff Hotel was the sight of the deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history in the late 40s. The Hotel has now been restored to its former glory, but I almost got lost on a research trail involving that hotel and its history.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
As a mom of young children, my hardest challenge is finding the time to write. For me right now that means I'm often writing from 9 p.m. to midnight or later. Fortunately, my husband is immensely supportive. I couldn't do it without him.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love creating characters and stories that sweep readers away. And I love the interaction with readers after they've read a book. Sometimes their take-away is very different from what I expected, but God is so good to send the encouragement when I need it.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I'm somewhere in-between. I usually start with a several page outline. For some books, that can be as much as 20-25 pages. If it's a suspense, I like to leave it a bit looser, but I always know the main characters, the setting, the romantic thread, and if there's suspense, the suspense thread. Then I start writing.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Absolutely! I love that! I love getting caught in their world, and the characters becoming so real that they begin to share things with me I hadn't anticipated.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
I'm also writing mysteries for Guideposts new series, Patchwork Mysteries. That's been fun because it's a highly collaborative process. Something I've never done before. And I'm in the midst of brainstorming my next World War II series, which will have a new twist for me.
What message would you like your readers to take from Stars in the Night?
That God is always with us. Even when it looks like life is falling apart and He can't possibly be in the midst of it, He is there. And He will turn our grief into joy -- maybe not over night -- but it is one of His promises.
What is your greatest achievement?
Hmmm, my greatest achievement. That's never easy to answer, but I'd have to say it's being married to my wonderful husband and raising our children with him. I love writing and can't imagine not doing it, but raising our children to love and serve the Lord will be my greatest achievement.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
My mission is to encourage readers that no matter what they're experiencing there is always hope. Life is tough, and sometimes it's easy to wonder where God is. But He never leaves us or forsakes us, and as we seek Him and His faith, we'll find that we have a core strength that we didn't know.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I love to read books to escape. And my family and I love to take short trips. And often those trips are to places where we can get away from the rat race of life.