Please read this interview with two of the authors, Cara C. Putman, Gina Conroy, regarding what it was like to work together to write the four novellas State Secrets, Dying for Love, Buried Deception, and Coffee, Tea and Danger.
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Ladies, tell me how Cherry Blossom Capers was born?
Cara: Several years ago, Gina, Lynette, and I (Cara) were trying to come up with a novella idea. Then we got Gina involved and tried to think of an interesting locale that hadn’t been covered by a prior novella collection and Washington, D.C. came up. Since I had lived there, we picked my former neighborhood, and each took a different location and mystery. The key connector became this community where all of our heroines lived.
Did you know each other before writing together or did Barbour Books pick you ladies for this book?
Gina: I met Lynette Sowell about seven years ago at an ACFW conference as we stood outside agent Steve Laube’s door as newbies for an in depth critique. We bonded over our nervousness and our naïve hopefulness that Steve would recognize our brilliance and sign us on the spot. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I met Cara when she joined the ACFW crit group I led and I got to see her grow from a new writer to someone who’s surpassed me with contracts. I didn’t know Frances until we formed this group.
What did your co-writing relationship look like?
Cara: We brainstormed extensively through email, finding our theme, location, and the fact that these would be romantic mysteries. Then we went to work on our synopsizes. After that we submitted the proposal and waited…a long time J Once we received the contract we rebrainstormed and then wrote. We read each others novellas and found a few more ways we could connect the stories like having the gals get together in each one to watch a classic movie. Small details that tied the stories even more closely together.
What were the pros and cons of writing this book together?
Gina: It was a fun and relatively painless process. We all bounced ideas off of each other and I can’t remember any real disagreements. The hardest part for me was not being under contract for other books and having all this energy and time to put towards this project, but realizing the other authors in our anthology might not be so focused on our project because they were writing other books. Still, they always took time to listen to my suggestions and answer my questions. They really were great to work with!
Did you feel like your writing styles blended together nicely or did they clash?
Cara: The styles really did blend well. Each story reflects who we are as individual writers, yet they melded together to form a cohesive collection of stories.
For the legal elements in these stories, was there a lot of research that went into them?
Cara: Because I’m an attorney, the legal elements didn’t require much research. I actually attended law school in Arlington, Va, and clerked for a federal judge in D.C. That was one reason I put my story in the legal community.
Did you learn anything from writing a co-authored book and what was it?
Gina: I really enjoyed the process of figuring out ways each of our characters could make cameo appearances in the other stories. And it’s one of the things the readers love about our stories. We had fun coming up with more ways to tie our novellas together and I think in the finally stages of edits before we submitted we added the fun connection of our characters getting together for classic movie nights.
Do you have any advice for other writers who may be asked to write a book with another author?
Gina: It’s important that you collaborate with others you respect in writing and work ethic. If something in your relationship outside of writing clashes, chances are it will clash in the writing as well and make it a miserable experience. I only know this from what I hear from anthology projects where the authors have had trouble with their partners, not from experience!
Cara: That’s great advice, Gina. It helped that I knew Gina well, and had worked with Lynette and Frances in other capacities over time. All these gals were great to work with and we had a lot of fun.
Did any of you experience writer’s block during the writing process and did the other authors offer encouragement or help of any kind?
Gina: I don’t think I experienced writer’s block, but I when I was incorporating their characters into my story I’d often ask, “What would Ciara wear? OR what little quirk did Jack have.” It think those little details helped the continuity of the characters and story.
I like the fact that the main characters were neighbors and that they helped each other out. There was a sense of community. Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?
Gina: The theme of my novella, Buried Deception, is about surrendering to God and not trying to be self sufficient. Through Samantha and Nick’s story I show that we’re not meant to go through life alone and we need to ask for help. I think the fact that the four neighbors were always there for each other just strengthened the message.
Cara: Ciara has to be willing to let go of her past pains to move into a new relationship with an old flame. I think many of us can relate to having an issue that we just can’t seem to walk away from even when we want to do just that. So I hope readers will gain the courage to turn over those past areas of pain to God and walk into the future He has for them.
Thanks so much for having us, Sherri.
You ladies are totally welcome! It was my pleasure to have you on my blog. I enjoyed the book so much, I just had to share a little bit about it with my readers.
For more information on Cherry Blossom Capers, visit the blog that’s dedicated to the book.