Cara Putman is a writer of historical fiction and contemporary suspense. She has won several alwards for her writing, and her historical novel, Canteen Dreams won the 2008 ACFW Book of the Year — Short Historical; Sandhill Dreams was a 2009 ACFW Book of the Year Finalist. She resides in Lafayette, Indiana.
When did you first start writing?
My first short stories were written as part of third grade – I still have that journal filled with stories about a frog and toad and their adventures. Since then I’ve kept a journal and now have a bookshelf filled with journals. Then in high school I started two novels: one exploring what happened to the Lost colony of Roanoke and the other set in Boston during the Revolutionary War. Then college started and writing went on the back shelf though the dream wouldn’t die. But that all changed in April 2005 when I told my husband told that I wanted to be a writer.
Who are your major influences?
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful writers. And each day I discover more. I read voraciously and try to pay attention to what works in their books. ACFW (www.acfw.com) has made a tremendous difference in learning how to write and encouragement on the journey. But some of my favorite writers are: , Brandilyn Collins, Randy Singer, James Scott Bell, and Stephen James. There are so many amazing authors out there. Christian fiction is so broad and it’s awesome!
What draws you to the World War II era?
There is something heroic and romantic about that time period. A clear good v. evil battle. A time when the country pulled together behind a larger goal.
What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction? How is this different than the other genres you write?
Historical fiction is fun though a lot of work. I picked a time period that I love and that makes the research more enjoyable. I love the twists and turns of suspense. That’s my greatest challenge right now – I love both genres!
What resources helped you the most in your research?
Using the internet to find the local resources/museums that have the information I need on various topics. For example, when writing Sandhill Dreams I made the trip to Fort Robinson and spent a day with the museum curator. That was incredible!
Why do you think accuracy so important in historical fiction?
One mistake can take a reader out of the dream. And once they’ve uncovered a mistake their looking – even if subconsciously – for other mistakes.
How did the idea for your historical series come about?
It started with Canteen Dreams which is set in my hometown of North Platte, Nebraska. That story was incredible: a town started a canteen that ran from December 17, 1941 through April 1946. Every troop train was met by volunteers from 125 towns who brought in food, coffee, books, magazines, birthday cakes, etc., for the troops. It was an amazing story I had to tell. And then I needed two more Nebraska based stories to round out the series. All three titles are being released in Cornhusker Dreams in November.
Any more plans for a World War Two series?
The first book in the Ohio series released in June. A Promise Kept focuses on a newly married couple and the challenges they face while opening their home to an evacuated British child. A Promise Born highlights a top secret project in Dayton as well as a great romance. While A Promise Forged focuses on the kid sister and her adventures in the All American Girls Professional Softball League, with a romance.
Can you tell me a about your road to publication?
The visible road to publication was short. Met Colleen in April 2005, attended ACFW in September 2005 where I met the Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired Suspense acquisitions editors, received my first contract at ACFW in September 2006, and now I have 7 books out with two more and the repackage releasing in the next six months. It has been an amazing journey.
What was your biggest struggle?
Making the time to consistently write. That time at the keyboard is critical. Without it, there are no books. And balancing the marketing with the writing is a challenge too.
What advice do you have for newbie authors?
Join ACFW (www.acfw.com). I am published in large part because of this organization and the teaching it offers as well as the relationships and conference.