An Interview with Jamie Carie – Love’s First Light

1. What kind of research did you do when writing your book?

Research is one of the best parts of writing historical novels. I often get side-tracked and end up with so much material that I have to wade around in it for awhile before I know what I want to use. For Love’s First Light, I studied the complexities of the political upheaval (monarchy, church and revolutionist). I really wanted to stay historically accurate in depicting the actions and motivations of the players in the French Revolution. I also researched the geography of Paris and Carcassonne. When I can’t visit a place in person I first pray and ask God to give me a feel for the time and place. Then I use Google Maps, travel websites (check out this one on Carcassonne), books, movies and novels set in France. After all of that I almost feel like I’ve really been there.

The most challenging research for this book was the science and technology of that time period. I read and reread material on light, color, mathematics, astronomy, biographies on the scientific leaders of that day, etc. I’m not particularly strong on the math/science side of my brain, and I remember looking at my husband at various points and wailing, “I’ve reread this paragraph four times and I still don’t understand what it means!” Then, I would call my neighbor who is a chemist and beg for help.

2. What significance does the French Revolution play in your book?

It is very key to the book. I like to use the timeline of actual, historical events as a sort of backbone structure to my plots. As I studied France’s history, I was struck by the differences in the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The American Revelation was a few years before the French Revolution, and the poor, desolate people of France saw what we had won and wanted it for themselves. What amazed me as is how sorry and sad their ending was compared to ours. We had men like George Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin (none perfect, I know!) but they had a heart on fire for a new kind of government: freedom, and they loved this ideal more than they loved themselves. In the French Revolution, the men who fought against the monarchy were as corrupt, godless, and grasping as those they fought against. There was no love but love for self. And there was no love for God. The result was a bloodbath of horror and terror.

3. What do you like best about your hero and heroine? What personality traits did you enjoy watching develop in those characters?

After Scarlett’s husband dies, she has to move home from Paris to Carcassonne to have her baby and live with her mother and sister. Scarlett is definitely the person who holds the family together. She is like so many women I know – a great manager of life’s day to day ups and downs, with a loving, sacrificing heart towards her family. What I love about Scarlett though, is as solid as she is, she has a giant weakness for falling head over heels in love at first sight. She did it with her first husband and regretted it, and now she finds herself falling for Christophé St. Laurent, a French count who is running from the guillotine. Their connection and chemistry was fun to watch enfold and sometimes difficult to reign in!

Christophé is that scientific genius type that forgets to eat and sleep when in the middle of an experiment or mathematical calculations. After the devastation of witnessing his family’s destruction, he turns to science and his relationship with God to stay sane. I love this character! His growth comes through hard choices and he was just so multi-layered and interesting to me.

4. What are a few techniques you use (if any) to develop your complex characters? Do you interview them? Have long bios about them?

Mostly I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writer (a pantster J) so I usually let the characters develop as we go along. I do try to find a photo or painting that depicts the character’s physical attributes. But I like to throw them into a scene and watch how they behave to get to know their external and internal motivations. That’s the really fun part!

5. How does the faith of the characters shape their decisions?

This was a challenge I wasn’t expecting with this book. During this time period everything was so corrupt – the government, the church, the revolutionist – everybody! I prayed and asked God how I was going to be able to make my characters Christian when all the research blatantly pointed to a Godless nation. God gave me two answers: the Lord’s Prayer and Holy Communion. The Catholic Church would have taught both and these are such universal, yet powerful, Christian sacraments. It really gave me a lifeline between God and my characters.

6. Who do you think would enjoy your book and why?

I like to think I write for anybody 16-116 – LOL! If you like history, you will probably like my books. If you like romance, you will probably like my books. If you like real, flawed characters who are striving to follow Him and look to Him and believe in Him even though their world is sometimes falling apart . . . if you like to be inspired by such people, then I think you will like my books.

7. How is your book different from other romance novels?

I’ve been told that the historical detail is well done (not overpowering the story but intrinsic to the plot in a compelling way). I’ve also been told that I’m not preachy but that the Christian elements seem organic to the story, which is why I started writing novels in the first place. If I can maintain both of these elements in each book, I’ll keep writing historical romances.

8. Besides entertainment, is there anything else you hope your audience will glean from reading Love’s First Light?

I would say the two themes are forgiveness and, for me, a sense of profound patriotism – go America! I know we have our issues, but when you look back at our country’s history, wow. I just see God’s hand over us and His plan for us to be light and salt to the world.And forgiveness? I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. I think there are the big ones, as in some sort of cruelty or evil against you beyond your control such as physical/emotional/sexual abuse, adultery, murder, etc., and then there’s the little everyday grievances that can range from annoying to genuinely hurtful. The Bible is pretty clear about our need (I like the word need because it’s for us as much as the person who hurts us) to forgive those who abuse us. The key to forgiveness, I think, is the focus. Are our eyes (thoughts, words, emotions) focused on the offender? Or is our focus on the Lord? God has promised that if we look to Him, cling to Him in the midst of pain and suffering, He will provide what we need, everything we need. And the knowledge that I’ve been on the other side, that I have caused pain to people too, makes it easier to forgive. I think that the constant forgiving of each other is the only way to stay in and build relationships.

9. How does your faith play a role in creating your novels…particularly this one?

In every novel, when I sit down to a blank screen, especially that first chapter, it requires a great deal of faith to start tapping away at the keys. Can I do it again? Will it be as good as that last one? Will people love it? Hate it? I have to push aside all the doubts and fears, pray, and then take a leap of faith that this is the call on my life. This is the job God has given me to do. Then I start typing.

10. Do you have anything to add?

Thank you so much for these great interview questions! I pray God will bless (happy, to be envied, spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) anyone who reads it. (I found the meaning of bless from the Amplified Bible – my favorite tool for writers! Matthew 5:3) God bless you!

Thanks for being with us Jamie and God bless you too. I can’t wait to get my hands on Love’s First Light. To learn more about Jamie and her writing, visit her website at http://www.jamiecarie.com.

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