Friday, June 5, 2009

A View from Jamie Carie's Window - Love's First Light

Wind Dancer was my introduction to Jamie Carie's work, and historical fiction burst into my heart and mind as never before! You can imagine how exciting it was for me to receive my review copy of Love's First Light!

Well, I just had to find out how these fantastic stories find their way into Jamie's heart and mind, and she graciously answered some of my questions. It is my great pleasure to share with you some thoughts about Love's First Light. This great story will release from B&H Publishing Group in July! Please, welcome Jamie Carie to my Window!

The details of the French Revolution – particularly Maximilien Robespierre’s reign of terror is a most unlikely setting for romance of any kind. How was the seed of this story birthed in your heart and mind? Do you just love French history? Or had you traveled to the area? How did love and terror wind up together in your mind?

LOL about loving French history! I am one of those people who (sometimes fortunately/ sometimes not!) jumps off the cliff and then thinks to ask if the water is deep enough for my landing on the way down. This novel was really challenging because I knew so very little about French history when I started it. My original thought was something to do with the Cathers in Carcassonne, France in the Pyrenees Mountains. The more I researched this area and then Paris, the more I was drawn to the revolutionary time period. I know my American history pretty well and I was struck by the differences in our American Revolution and the French Revolution. God had such mercy on us to give us selfless, Christian leaders as George Washington to help establish our country.

France was spiritually bankrupt, the church was corrupt, the monarchy was corrupt and completely self-serving and the men who came into power became more and more corrupt and greedy as time went on. It was a horror story and I had to get on my knees and ask God how I was going to pull off two Christian characters seeking Him, depending on Him, during such a hellish time period. God brought me the answer in the sacrament of communion or The Lord's Supper and The Lord’s Prayer. I knew those were two things that Christophe and Scarlett would have learned about in the French Catholic churches and I prayed the Holy Spirit would help me make them alive to my characters. They ended up a lifeline for Christophe.

What kind of research was involved in writing this story? How difficult was it for you to capture the raw terror of the guillotine?

The research was intense! Lots of books on France, French history, Paris (I used Google Maps to study Paris in detail), Carcassonne and what really challenged me - the science of that time especially as it pertained to light, color and astronomy. Whew, I’m breaking out in a sweat just remembering how I struggled while studying the same mathematical equations over and over (from that time period!) and didn’t have a clue what it meant. It was frustrating that my mind couldn’t wrap around the math as easily as I knew Christophe’s could. I think he was getting annoyed with me on several occasions! LOL! As far as the guillotine, there were so many actual accounts written about The Terror and the use of the guillotine that it wasn't too hard to grasp the horror of what humans were doing to other humans during those blood soaked years.

Your writing faithfully reflects God’s faithfulness to those who call upon His name no matter how dark the night or how hopeless the circumstance. How important is it to you to make this ring true to your readers? For instance, Christophe and Emilie had much to overcome, and yet God revealed his mercy to them and in turn they offered forgiveness to the unforgiveable.

This is one of the best parts of being an author! I didn’t know how Christophe and Emilie were going to get through the devastation brought upon their family but, as happens in all of my stories, God reveals it to me little by little, just as in real life, and my characters have to truly trust Him (and me to hear Him) so that they come out victorious in the end. I picture God knowing all of our stories – from the first people to the last every created – and then He gives me parts of those stories as I write. To me they are all true and real and could have actually happened.

Jasper and Suzanne’s relationship was a particular delight to me in this story! It was as innocent and amazing to them as it was to the reader! What was your inspiration for this?

Jasper was one of those side characters that popped up strong and sure right from the beginning. I didn’t have a good grasp on Suzanne though until she met Jasper and then – BAM – her personality came flowing through. They just needed each other, and I think that the time period was so intense it was great to have a few moments of silliness and comic relief to lighten the mood once in awhile. They were both serendipitous to me and I hope will be to the reader as well.

How did you capture the essence of Scarlett and Christophe’s sense of knowing one another so completely when they were but mere strangers?

I think this happens to some people. It’s like two souls wandering around the earth and then they meet and know that they’ve met their other half. Some call it "love at first sight" but I think of it more in an imprinting way. Some people just recognize their imprint in another and embrace it, which is what Scarlett and Christophe do. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s an immediate happily ever after for those lucky enough to fall fast! J Lots of overcoming makes for a strong, solid foundation in a relationship.

The scenes between Christophe and Scarlett are rather breathtaking, and I daresay the birth scene may seem a bit extreme to some. To me, it seemed that only the birth of Scarlett’s son could have conveyed to him what God was trying to say to him in order to free him from his bloody and horrifying memories. Am I overstating when I perceive this to be a picture of God’s redeeming love? What was your reasoning behind this scene?

This scene was intense and yes, I thought that the symbolism of blood and new birth would be the only thing to break the bondage Christophe had allowed to rule over his heart. Some people have been so traumatized in life that it takes a special kind of miracle to open them back to life again. God showed Christophe that love is just that - love. There are no boundaries to it, no strings attached, no horror that can undo it. The scripture that says there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39) took on new meaning for me with this book.

Don’t you think it would be a different world today if we could all learn to forgive as completely and honestly as Emilie? What would you like for your readers to take away from her character?

Yes! My little world would be different if I could be as forgiving as Emilie. I don’t think we give children and the young in general enough credit sometimes. “Faith like a little child” can be interpreted as an innocent and na├»ve meaning, which can be true, but sometimes they are braver, more willing to risk and believe exactly what God tells them. Emilie has the kind of faith that keeps her focused on God’s voice for her salvation, not the “voices” screaming around her to believe in another kind of world.

What on earth comes after this amazing story? What exciting story has the Lord laid upon your heart now?

I just turned in my fifth novel, Angel’s Den. It kind of reminds me of that movie, Sleeping with the Enemy with Julia Roberts. It’s the story of a woman who thinks she is making the best decision of her life and then finds her dreams turned into a nightmare. The way God delivers her came to me one chapter at a time. I could have never dreamed up what happens, but it was perfect for her.

Now, I’m writing a Christmas novella that will be set in Alaska and reminds me a little of my first book, Snow Angel. It's the month of June and I am listening to Christmas music to get into the spirit of it – lol! But, I’m not complaining! I hoped and prayed and wished for this career for so long. I am incredibly blessed to get to do this for my job. Thanks so much for the wonderful interview, Kim! It is people like you who help get the word out about these stories and I am so grateful for you!!

Please visit Jamie's website to learn more about all of her fantastic novels!


Jenny said...

Enjoyed the interview - and the cover of this novel is just lovely. I've 'visited' France a few times in contemporary novels, but never in an historical one. I think Love's First Light is going to change that.


Unknown said...

Hi Kim,

Great interview with Jamie! She will be touring the south during the last two weeks of July 2009. I'd be happy to send you all the tour information if you send me an e-mail.

Amanda C. Willis