Marcia James, author of hot, humorous romances
 
 

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The James Gang


THE JAMES GANG

Each month I interview an author or publishing insider who has "James" in his/her name.  My June James Gang interview is with Thomas Nelson author, Cara Lynn James.

1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?

James is actually my middle name and my mother's maiden name.  I hated it when I was a kid! Not many girls had a boy's name for either a first name or a middle name.  But I picked James for my pen name because it's easy to remember.

My James ancestors came to Massachusetts from England in the 1630s.  Within a few years, they got in some trouble with the religious authorities and were expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of their radical spiritual beliefs!  They moved on to Rhode Island and stayed there ever since — until my mother's generation.  I grew up in Connecticut.  The James's were among the original settlers of Rhode Island.

2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?

I write inspirational fiction — historical romance with a touch of mystery.  My favorite time period is the Gilded Age, the end of the turn of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth.  My story setting is Newport, Rhode Island.  It's a small quaint town where the New York/Newport millionaires used to spend their summers enjoying their wealth in great style.  They built enormous mansions on the ocean and only lived in them for the eight weeks of summer.  For many years it was the premier resort on the east coast.

When I was young, I spent a lot of time in Newport, but not in a mansion!  I toured the enormous summer homes (misnamed cottages) and those "white elephants" really impressed me.  I couldn't imagine living in such opulence.  Well, I guess I could imagine it because I decided that someday I'd write a story using the Newport millionaires as my characters and the resort as my setting.  The lifestyle of the "rich and famous" fascinated me, and I wondered what made the Astors and Vanderbilts and the other privileged folks different from the rest of us.  Of course their money separated them from everyone else and insulated them from many of the problems of ordinary life.  Yet vast wealth also created problems.  They worried about being married for their money, not for themselves.  Heiresses and fortune hunters make for some interesting characters.

The three books of my series, "The Ladies of Summerhill", all take place in Newport.  Love on a Dime is the first book, and the second one is Love on Assignment.  I'm writing the third book now, which will be called Love by the Book.

3. Tell us about your latest release.

Turn-of-the-century novelist Lilly Westbrook learns that being faithful to her calling means more than just putting pen to paper.  It's the summer of 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lilly Westbrook is struggling to conceal her career from family and friends because of the stigma attached to dime novels.  Lilly feels good about her secret — after all, she's enlightening working class girls with her books and honoring God by using her talents to His glory.  But her secret is threatened when Jackson Grail, a former suitor, becomes Lilly's new publisher.  He's determined to revive his floundering publishing house by maximizing their most promising -- and most secretive -- author.  His plan?  Find "Fannie Cole" and convince her to go public.  When a gossip columnist discovers Lilly's true identity, she finds that being faithful to her calling involves more than just putting pen to paper.  It requires that she stand up for her faith and for herself, no matter the consequences.

4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?

The theme is following God's calling in your life and finding a way to accomplish it even when it might not be the easiest thing to do.

5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?

I think Lilly Westbrook is my favorite heroine (Love on a Dime), at least so far.  She's doing what she loves to do (writing), but in secret in order to avoid disapproval.  Lilly is caught in a bad situation, which she is responsible for, and she has to figure out how to get out of it.  But I also love Jack, the hero, because he's strong and determined and, need I add, very handsome!

6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I especially love research.  Over the years I've collected a lot of books about Newport and New York during the Gilded Age, so I'd already done much of the research before I even began developing the Ladies of Summerhill series.  It's easy to spend too much time reading and surfing the net for interesting tidbits of information!  I can get lost in research and drift from one topic to another.  I love trivia.

When I'm really into a story, I love to write.  And I also enjoy editing.  I like searching for just the right word to convey a certain meaning.  It can be time-consuming, but it's not a time-waster.

7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you'd like to tell us about?

I received fourteen writing awards (unpublished) from American Christian Fiction Writers(ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) contests.  I won the ACFW Noble Theme Contest in the historical category, and last year I was the RWA Golden Heart finalist in the inspirational category.  That led to a three-book contract from Thomas Nelson.  Very exciting!

8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?

I'm really just learning about promotion.  I took writing one step at a time — first I learned the craft, joined writers' organizations and a critique group, entered contests, etc.  Until I sold, I never even thought about promotion.  So now I'm playing catch-up.  My publisher, Thomas Nelson, is giving me lots of really useful information and help.  Also, I'm a member of a very active blog called Seekerville.  (Waving to my "Seeker sisters").  We blog about all things related to writing including our books.  I also have a new website, www.CaraLynnJames.com, and I'm on Facebook, Goodreads and Authorbuzz.

9. What is your next project?

I'm finishing line-edits on my second book in the Ladies of Summerhill series.  It's called Love on Assignment, and it's also set in Newport, Rhode Island, during the Gilded Age.  It'll be in bookstores in January 2011.  I'm starting on the third novel, which will be called Love by the Book.  I'm really excited about writing this.  It's about a marriage of convenience, one of my favorite themes.  I'm still thinking through the plot.

After that I'll continue to write historical romances, but I might set them in another location.

10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you'd like to impart or a favorite quote?

One of my favorite quotes about writing is from William Wordsworth: "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."

 

Thanks, Cara Lynn!  Next month, I'll interview Wild Rose Press author Christina James!

 

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Sherry James Interview

Maddie James Interview

Marcia James Interview

 


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