We're pleased to have Cara Luecht back on our blog with her latest release!!
Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Cara has four published novels: Soul Painter, Soul’s Prisoner, and Gathered Waters, and Devil in the Dust. Soul Painter and Soul’s Prisoner will be joined by a third novel in the series, Soul’s Cry, in 2017.
Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
Christian Fiction is called Inspirational Fiction for a reason: it should inspire the reader. Duh. But after going through a tough time in my own life, I noticed that the characters in the Christian Fiction books that I picked up usually experienced a happy ending. I don’t know about you, but not everything in my life always ends perfectly, and what I had been dealing with was the opposite of short term. So I began playing with the idea of why we seem to need a happy ending in order for something to be inspirational. Eventually, I decided that if I wanted to write something truly inspirational, it should look like real life.
The dust bowl was a natural setting. The people in the center of the country suffered the drought for a decade! That’s long term suffering! But they also kept their faith. I began asking what faith in times of that kind of hardship would have to look like, and Devil in the Dust was born!
Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I loved writing Emma. Because she is a mother and just trying her best to keep her family together, and struggling with how to encourage and guide her oldest daughter, Jessie, I found I had a lot in common with her. Emma is real and she is tender, but there is a resilience about her that creates a solid foundation for her family.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?
I should warn you that sports and entertainment fight for the lowest score on my trivia crack profile, but I’ll give it a go.
For Lillian, the pastor’s wife (the first voice in the book), I envision a Nicole Kidman inspired character (in her 20s).
For Jessie, I see someone who looks like young Emma Stone.
For Emma (Jessie’s mother), I think the actress should be Kirsten Dunst.
How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?
For this one, I chose the location because of the severity of the drought.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it and why?
I don’t think there is. There may be genres I don’t see myself writing, but not subject matter. I probably will never write a YA novel because I always tend to complicate things beyond what the YA genre requires.
Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?
I have to admit that I just googled “literary charter quiz,” because I’m an idiot with these kinds of questions. The answer? Mr. Darcy. Which, strangely enough, rings pretty true.
I tend to be a bit of a loner. I like to spend time thinking. Most people might consider me a little standoffish when they first meet me, but if I let them in (something I am working on!), they see that I actually am quite sensitive and empathetic.
What strange writing habits do you have? Like standing on your head while you write with a pen between your teeth?
No to the head standing and teeth writing. Yes to temporarily uninstalling Facebook so that I can concentrate. Yes to chocolate. Yes to needing a clean desk.
Do you have a writing mentor, or another author who has inspired/encouraged you in some way?
The authors who have inspired me would have no idea, because I’m an introvert, and introverts just don’t do that kind of thing. LOL. In my mind I have a lot of mentors…they just don’t know it!
We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
My faith has affected every aspect of my writing because I am a Christian, and what I create can’t help but be a reflection of who I am. I do not write Christian Fiction out of what I feel to be a calling, and I do not write it because I think I have some sort of special message the world needs to hear. Rather, each novel becomes an echo of my experiences as a wife, mother, teacher, student, musician, professional, friend, and follower of Christ. I write it because I have stories in my mind, and I have a desire to put them on paper.
I believe that we are all created in the image of God—which means we all have the ability to create different things. We can choose to use that ability or not to use it. I simply choose to use that ability.
Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were responsible to write your own epitaph for your tombstone, what would it say?
I told you I was sick.
Anne is an insatiable romantic with a serious vintage aura in all she writes. Do you have fabulous love story in your family history that you could share with us in a few words? If not, what about your own?
My own <3 I met my husband the weekend I turned sixteen. We’ve been together ever since…married for 23 years. He is amazing.
Erica and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?
Romance influences every part of my writing because there is a push-pull rhythm that I feel is essential to compelling writing. Every scene for me, even if not romance, is a love scene. If my characters are dealing with loss, it’s a love scene. If they are fighting, it’s a love scene. If they are afraid, it’s a love scene. If you think about it, everything we do is based on love. We go to work or stay home because we love our families and want to give them the best life possible. We do their laundry, or teach them to do their own laundry, because we love them. I try to write every scene with that same kind of tension.
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! Please share something below:
The wind stopped. The house grew quiet. Lillian kicked the oil rag out of the way and eased the kitchen door open to listen, to see if it was safe.
A single drop of rain splashed down on the rickety porch, and for a brief second Lillian could remember what the wood once looked like. But too soon the drop remembered where it was, that it had no place in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and it rolled, following a parched crack in the ever-present layer of dirt. And then it disappeared into the ground.
Lillian took a step out of the house and stretched her bare toes against the hot, soft dust. The screen door no longer hung in the way, and with a diminished need for the protective layer, no one
felt the urge to retrieve it. The frail door had made it through the first summer. But the second summer, when the drought refused to loosen its hold, the winds had ripped it from its hinges, stretched the frail metal spring to the breaking point, and set the door down against the fence. There it rested, with one board broken and a ripped screen, leaning on a fence post that once marked the entrance to the garden.
Now the fence marked nothing. An entrance to nowhere.
When the dust settled, she could see for miles from her kitchen door. Miles that once cradled golden fields of wheat, dew-covered footpaths, acres of grasses, and the occasional neighbor walking through to visit. Lillian took another hesitant step, careful not to stir the persistent cloud of soot that coated everything. In years past, the dirt—the rich topsoil of the Oklahoma territories—had been the source of life. Now that hope, the black wealth the old settlers had risked their lives for, smothered the city. It seeped into every crevice, into every building, into their lungs and ears. Their most valuable asset, once under their feet, now smothered their tiny town.
Lillian reached up to shade her eyes from the sun, looking for the stray cloud that had mistakenly dropped its burden.
Another drop fell. And then, another.
Lillian shuffled out of the shadow of the small farmhouse and up the side to what had been their front yard. Now dominated by rippling drifts of fine dirt, there wasn’t much left of the grass that used to dampen the toes of her shoes or her flowers with their heavy velvet petals.
But a neighbor still lived across the street.
Her listless children, long since worn free of the desire to run and carry on with sticks and games, stood in the yard looking up.
They’d seen it too.
The sun burned against Lillian’s blonde hair. At least, it used to be blonde. The layer of dust covered everything, including people, and where there had once been defining characteristics, now there was likeness. The Negro man on the old shanty claim just outside of town was the same color as the horde of white children across the street. The dirt made sure of that. It was, if nothing else, an
Lillian watched the shoeless children. There were five, and no one left in town thought it strange that they traipsed down the street without shoes. Shoes filled up with the soot. Add to it the summer heat, and the ensuing paste meant the freedom of bare feet outweighed the humiliation of it. At least for the children.
Lillian looked up at the lumbering brown cloud overhead.
“Here, over here!” A young boy jumped up at the sky, waving his arms and stamping around as if performing some kind of rain dance. The others joined in, hooting and calling to the meandering cloud.
Another drop fell, and then another, and for a brief second they watched each other from across the street while the rain crashed against the dirt in impossibly huge drops and a cloud of dust rose and fell from the miniature impacts.
Rivulets of water ran down Lillian’s arms, streaking through the dust. She glanced across the street where the mother of the children stood in the middle of their undignified splashing dance.
Lillian lifted up to her tiptoes and waved to the woman.
And then, her arm still in the air, the rain stopped.
The cloud moved on, almost as if it had been a mistake. Where it had blocked the sun, suddenly it didn’t, and it took only a matter of seconds for the hot rays to undo the rain’s damage. Lillian looked
down at the unchanged earth and then back up to Mrs. Owen and her children, but she had already retreated into the house.
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