I'm tickled to introduce you to one of my Indiana writer buds and a fabulous writer. Just this month Jamie Carie had a new book release. Love's First Light is brilliant! There's no other word for it.
Jamie, Love's First Light is another dramatic addition to your books. How did you land on France as a setting?
I have always been interested in France and its history, but it was a friend of mine who told me about Carcassonne and the castle there (who can resist a medieval castle?) that really sparked my curiosity. After doing some research I decided that the French Revolution was too compelling to pass up. The aristocrats were the "bad guys" during those years and I thought it would be so interesting to make my hero a brilliant scientist/aristocrat on the run from the guillotine.
What research challenges did setting the book during the French Revolution present?
Many! This book was a real challenge that I didn't anticipate until it was too late to do anything but trudge forward. The complexities of the political upheaval (monarchy, church and revolutionist - all corrupt) were daunting to wrap my mind around. I tried to stay historically accurate in depicting the actions and motivations of the players in the French Revolution. I also researched the geography of Paris and Carcassonne, the science and technology of that time period, and all those little details from how they baked bread to what sort of herbs an apothecary would have used. And the science of the time! I read and reread material on light, color, mathematics, astronomy, biographies on the scientific leaders of that day. I remember looking at my husband at various points and wailing, "I've reread this paragraph four times and I still don't understand what it means!" Then I would call my neighbor who is a chemist and beg for help.
Were you able to visit France? If not, how did you get the details so clearly established in your mind to be able to paint the picture for the reader?
No visit, but what a dream vacation that would be! When I can't visit a place in person I first pray and ask God to give me a feel for the time and place. Then I use Google Maps, travel websites (check out this one on Carcassonne), books and movies and novels set in France. After all of that I almost feel like I've really been there.
Your hero is a scientist...one who is fascinated with color. How did you land on that theme?
When I started to imagine Christophé, I thought he could be a similar character to John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. While I didn't want him to be schizophrenic, as John Nash was, I did want him to be a tortured genius type. After that first scene, it was easy to imagine him slipping into science to stay sane. I think when we are traumatized there are disconnects in our mind and heart that kick in to protect us so that we can continue to function. Christophé clings to two things - his science (experiments /mathematical equations) and his connection to God which comes in the form of The Lord's Prayer and Communion. Then God gave me a moment in the book where his science and faith meet - the rainbow. And, in particular, the color red. There were so many analogies to be made. The blood of Christ. The only answer that would ever save him. I love it when God surprises me through my stories and characters. It's one of the best parts of being a writer, don't you think?
Emilie is an amazing character. Have you ever had to forgive someone like she did?
I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. I think there are the big ones, as in some sort of cruelty or evil against you beyond your control such as physical/emotional/sexual abuse, adultery, murder, etc. and then there's the little everyday grievances that can range from annoying to genuinely hurtful. The Bible is pretty clear about our need (I like the word need because it's for us as much as the person who hurt us) to forgive those who abuse us. Emilie finds the key to forgiveness, I think, and that is the focus. Are our eyes (thoughts, words, emotions) focused on the offender? Or is our focus on the Lord? God has promised that if we look to Him, cling to Him in the midst of pain and suffering, He will provide what we need, everything we need.
You asked if I have had to forgive like Emilie? Not for the same reasons, but yes, both in the big sense and the everyday hurts. But the knowledge that I've also been on the other side, that I have caused pain to people too, makes it easier to forgive. I think that the constant forgiving of each other is the only way to stay in and build relationships.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?
I'm a huge patriotic soul! I'm a "go America" kind of person! So when I read about the French Revolution I was in awe, once again, at the plan God has for this nation. The American Revelation was a few years before the French Revolution, and the poor, desolate people of France saw what we had won and wanted it for themselves. What amazed me as is how sorry and sad their ending was compared to ours. We had men like George Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin (none perfect, I know!) but they had a heart on fire for a new kind of government, freedom, and they loved this ideal so much, more than they loved themselves. In the French Revolution, I learned that the men who fought against the monarchy were as corrupt, godless, and grasping as those they fought against. There was no love but love for self. And there was no love for God. The result was a blood bath of horror and terror. The 4th of July is especially glorious for me as I continue to learn and realize our heritage as a nation. Our nation is so blessed! A beacon of light in the darkness. Salt to the whole world.
What's next for you?
I just turned in a novel entitled, Angel's Den, out February 2010. It's a little like the movie Sleeping With the Enemy starring Julia Roberts. It's about a woman who marries the perfect picture and then the devastation of finding all her hopes and dreams turned into a nightmare that she must endure. I had no idea how God was going to save Emma, but He showed me and it was better than anything I could have dreamed up - not your typical formulaic romance. ☺
The trailer on your blog for that book has me incredibly interested! (look below for a sneak peek) Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm just amazed at all you do, Cara! You are truly a wonderful woman and writer. Thanks so much for the interview!!