Most Entertaining Book of 2008
"Sandhill Dreams" & "Captive Dreams"
by Cara Putman
First up I have the honorable mention for Most Entertaining Book of 2008... maybe I should introduce a historical category, hmmm... Well, anyway - last year her debut novel "Canteen Dreams" was in the Top 7 for Most Entertaining Book of 2007 and just won Book of the Year in the Short Historical Novel category at the American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference! This year she added 3 more books to her library including "Sandhill Dreams" and "Captive Dreams" to complete the Nebraska Dreams trilogy. If you like history you will love these books - Cara has picked out 3 amazing (and almost forgotten) parts of Nebraska WWII history and novelized them.
When I told Cara she was my honorable mention winner in the Most Entertaining Book of 2008 category she wanted to make sure she didn't make the list just because she's my older sister. In a way I suppose maybe she did, after all I might not have read them if I didn't know the author since I'm not a member of HeartSong Presents (the publisher), but the books and the history they exposed me too are why they won. I strongly encourage you to seek these books out - they are inexpensive, packed full of history, driven by wonderful romance threads and currently available at amazon.com and cbd.com (Canteen Dreams and Cara's mystery suspense "Deadly Exposure" are right now anyway).
1) Last year your first book "Canteen Dreams" came out and it just won Book of the Year in the Short Historical Fiction category for American Christian Fiction Writers. What was your reaction to winning?
I was so humbled and blown away -- and I have to say it was AWESOME to share the award with Mary Connealy, since watching her get the contract for that book at the ACFW conference in 2005 gave me so much hope that it could happen to me, too. The Book of the Year is becoming a well-respected award in the industry and to win the award at the same conference where I was awarded the contract two years earlier was pretty amazing. It was also awesome that you and Mom were there to enjoy the moment with me. :-) God continues to humble and amaze me with His gifts.
2) "Sandhill Dreams" and "Captive Dreams" complete the series that "Canteen Dreams" started. Canteen Dreams is set in North Platte, Nebraska during WWII and the canteen that the town set up for the soldiers that came through on trains. Sandhill Dreams takes us to Fort Robinson, Nebraska where the war dogs and horses were trained. Captive Dreams takes us to Holdrege & Kearney, Nebraska where Camp Atlanta (a POW camp) was. These are parts of history that most people are not even aware of. How did you find out about them?
Fort Robinson I knew about from a field trip there as a teen, though, in the oddest twist, the curator assured me I couldn’t possibly have remembered it. I guess it’s a modern mystery! Camp Atlanta I hadn’t heard about until I talked to you and Mom about my need for a third Nebraska based WWII story. It totally fit the bill because it was a little known fact and it completely intrigued me. That’s a key. If I’m not intrigued, it’s very hard to do the research necessary to get the details right and bring that slice of time alive.
3) How do you get into research for WWII historical books like this?
First, I choose WWII because I LOVE that timeperiod. That’s key for me. I love the music – I can get lost on-line watching YouTubes of scenes of folks dancing the jitterbug, finding the songs that topped the charts in 1941 or 1943. I love the movies. I love the clothes. Even the cars are pretty cool.
Then I have to find the event that hooks me. For Canteen Dreams it was the Canteen in North Platte – such a cool example of the lengths people were willing to go then to put others first! I loved the thought that half of the war dogs were trained at Fort Robinson, a hard to reach, little known fort in Nebraska. And the thought of prisoners of war in Nebraska – WOW! It was such a contrast to learn how we treated them and how they fared here… so different from our soldiers imprisoned by the Germans or Japanese. Each historical hook was a little different from the other books, and yet piqued my interest – still do in fact. I’d learn more even if I weren’t writing the book.
I love to go on site and visit the location. I changed the city location in A Promise Kept since I couldn’t get to Canton, Ohio to do research, it’s that important to me. I think I need to set one of these books in Europe!
4) You have a new series of Ohio books coming out soon, don't you? What parts of history will they focus on?
With A Promise Kept, the first book in the Ohio series, the hook came from learning that children evacuated from London came to the states. It was an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London that Eric and I almost skipped, but I am so glad we followed the prompt to walk through it. It’s title totally misled me! The second book has a top secret project and spy. I’ve loved Ultra, and now it gets to go into this book – I just plotted it and will write it this spring. I’m itching to start. And the third book has the all American girls professional baseball. I know enough to know what I still need to learn, but am already connected with the museum archivist who has access to all the documents I need. I can’t wait to race up to South Bend to explore his records.
Umm, can you tell I’m excited? J
5) You also had a contemporary mystery/suspense book "Deadly Exposure" come out this year. What do you like to write better - contemporary or historical - does one take more research than the other?
Oh, tough question! I love both. Seriously. I love the time period of the historicals. World War Two has fascinated me since I was a teen, so it’s a thrill to get to write about a generation I so admire. But I just wrote the sequel to Deadly Exposure: Trial by Fire. Honestly, I wondered if I could write suspense it had been so long and I’d written three historicals in between. I’ve got to tell you, I LOVED IT. They’re so different – but they both require research. At this point the historicals take more, but I interviewed a fire investigator for Trial by Fire, and loved the research angles.
6) Oh, and let's talk about the law book you just finished - how did that come about? And would you anticipate your regular readers to pick this one up and add it to their home libraries?
I’m sure tons of your readers would love to read the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. It’s a great sleep aid if you’re not in law school or taking the business law class somewhere. Seriously though, this book releases in May 2009. I call it my outlier, because fiction is what I see myself writing. But I was emailed by a fellow attorney who writes fiction Ron Benrey last February asking if I might be interested. His agent talked to me – and I honestly thought it was the longest shot ever. I mean, yes, I’m an attorney, clerked for a judge, and teach business law at Purdue, but there have to be others more qualified. But the publisher decided I was what they were looking for. It was a totally different style of writing, but I enjoyed it. And because it’s a Complete Idiots Guide, its as readable and fun as we could make it – though fun is probably a relative term for most. J
7) Where can readers find you online?
Thanks so much for having me!
Okay, readers you have a chance to win these great books! Here is what you do... leave me a comment (with your email address or way to reach you) telling me what you like about historical romances and you will have 1 entry in the drawing! If you tell someone else about this interview with Cara and they enter and put your name in the comment then you will have 3 extra entries, if you link to this interview from your own blog then you will get 2 extra entries - We will give away Captive Dreams - when we pass over 25 comments then we will add in Sandhill Dreams and Canteen Dreams and the winner will get ALL 3 books (THE ENTIRE SET!) - Good luck!