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Interview with Candee Fick

She’s a woman whose love for creating fictional story worlds began when she was four-years-old. Today, Candee Fick is a working mother of three children, including one with special needs. She’s the wife of a football coach and enjoys cheering on her favorite team, which I would say is her family. Candee finds that her personal faith in God grows alongside the faith of her fictional characters. She describes her characters as taking up “residence” in her head and feels compelled to tell their stories for readers to enjoy. Candee’s latest story for readers to enjoy is Catch of a Lifetime, about a man who “breathes football” and a woman who “shudders at the very mention of the sport.” Draws you in right away with that conflict in the first two sentences of the book summary, doesn’t it? Today, Candee is ready to reel you in with many more captivating details about her book, passion, life purpose and hope.

Why are you, since age 4, so passionate about reading and writing?
I love stories! Once I unlocked the power of a vivid imagination and placed myself into a story with the characters, I discovered a form of entertainment that let me experience the world without leaving home. Today, as a working mother of three kids including one with special needs, I still read to escape. But I also find my personal faith growing alongside those I’m reading about as I experience their challenges and wonder how I would react. Somewhere along the way, new characters took up residence in my head and I had to put their stories on paper for others to enjoy.

Did you dream of being an author when you “grew up”? If so, what does that dream look like today? Was it what you expected or better? Explain.
I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, but after putting aside that career to be a mom, I found myself with time to read again. But I also found myself disappointed by some of the books I read and wondered if I could write a better story. I soon found myself waking up in the morning with vivid scenes filling my mind and filled a folder with scribbled ideas waiting for the day my kids were in school so I’d have time to write. I guess you could say my dream of being an author found me since the stories wouldn’t leave me alone until I began to share them.

What is your new novel, Catch of A Lifetime, about?
Catch of a Lifetime is about a rookie college football coach and a graduate-assistant athletic trainer who hates football but has to work with the football team. It’s a romance so of course they start to fall in love, but relationships between university staff and students are strongly discouraged and they have to keep their feelings hidden behind a wall of professionalism. It’s also a story about forgiveness and stereotypes and finding the perfect place to use the gifts God gave you in order to serve others.

The opening line to your book summary is, “He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport.” What a powerful way with words you show! What can you tell us about your main characters without giving away the story?
First, Reed is a fierce competitor whose own football career was cut short with an injury, so he’s pouring his life into the game he loves. His father wants him to quit wasting his time on a game and get a real job … meanwhile football programs that don’t win games soon have coaches looking for a new line of work. All that to say, Reed feels extra pressure to succeed and spends countless hours preparing his players for the next game.

On the other hand, Cassie is looking for a fresh start after a painful event in her past that involved a football player and destroyed her family. Happy to have a graduate assistant position to pay for her tuition plus a stipend toward her living expenses, life is looking up. Except there’s been a change and she’s assigned to work with the football program … or else drop out of school with no means of financial support. Being around the players is a harsh reminder of what she’s lost until she begins to see them as individual people.

What do you want your readers to remember most about Catch of A Lifetime?
I want readers to remember this romance with a smile on their face because of the happily-ever-after ending. :-) But this is more than a feel-good story, so I’d also love for readers to leave with the same truths the characters learn about forgiveness, judging a group of people by the actions of one, and discovering what matters most in life.

When did you begin your writing career and since then, how many books have you published?
I started writing in 2005 with a non-fiction idea that wouldn’t leave me alone. I have since published three non-fiction books and two short devotional ebooks. However, fiction has always been my dream and now Catch of a Lifetime is my first published novel with more to come.

Briefly share your journey to publication. Include your most memorable moment.
My journey began with the crazy idea that I would write a book. Of course, when I finished that manuscript I had no idea what to do with it. That launched me into an adventure of writing conferences, a two-year writing course, a dozen published articles, several non-fiction books, and a blog that sparked several devotional books ideas. The path for fiction took a whole lot longer and ACFW played a key role in that journey through the courses loop, critique groups, conferences, and contests. I was a Genesis Runner-Up in 2009 in women’s fiction, a Semi-Finalist in 2011 with a different story, and a double-Finalist and winner in 2014 in the short novel category with two new stories.

My most memorable moment on this journey was when all the pieces came together in a God-ordained-Facebook-message asking if Catch of a Lifetime was still available. Are you kidding? Of course it’s available! A book blurb on my website, a growing platform of online connections, and name recognition from the ACFW Genesis contest converged to open the door for a publishing contract. How awesome is that?

Why did you choose to write Contemporary Romance?
I initially chose to write contemporary romance because romance sells and I thought that door would be easier to get my foot into and because I thought contemporary stories would require less research. I have since learned that every story requires a lot of research to bring the setting and characters to life. And while I may not stick to a he-said-she-said formula in future books, romance is the perfect tool to depict a glimpse of God’s amazing sacrificial love for us.

How does your faith in God play into your storytelling?
I believe The Bible is the greatest Love story ever told with God as the Ultimate Hero. When I write, I try to weave into the plot some aspect of God’s character to help grow the reader’s faith. (For example, Catch of a Lifetime brings out the fact that man looks at the outside, but God sees the heart.) I also try to have my characters model an honest, trying-to-trust-even-if-it-doesn’t-make-sense faith in the middle of their struggles. They aren’t perfect and will fail, but God forgives and offers second chances. I believe readers are encouraged to know they aren’t alone in their doubts and shortcomings.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Explain.
I’m a big picture plotter and a scene-by-scene pantser. After my first fiction manuscripts turned out to be more episodic than unified around a story objective, I learned to invest the time to make sure the structure was solid with a good pacing of signpost scenes to keep the momentum building. However, when I sit down to write a particular scene, I set the stage and then let the characters romp. Some of my best lines of dialogue have come from just letting the story flow in the moment. There’s freedom to create pantser-style knowing that the overall story structure works.

What’s your inspiration for your story settings and character creation?
Honestly, many of my settings and characters so far have come from scenes I dreamed and then scribbled down. Of course, as ideas have percolated over the years, they have taken on lives of their own as I tried to figure out who these fictional people were and how they came to be in such a crazy situation. When it comes time to actually write the stories, I draw from my own life experiences. For example, Catch of a Lifetime was built on the foundation of my being married to a football coach and knowing some of the inside workings. My next contracted release, scheduled for September, grew even deeper from my love of musical theatre and having performed in several Passion plays.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Wow. That’s a great question that readers might be better able to answer since they’re more objective. However, since you asked me, I think my partially-sarcastic, partially-punny sense of humor leaks through into some of the bantering dialogue exchanges, but I’ve also worked hard on deep point-of-view and crafting a vivid story world so readers are sucked into the pages. I think another unique factor is my choice of setting since there haven’t been many football program or (coming soon) dinner theatre settings in Christian fiction.

Do you write full-time? If yes, please share advice for authors who aspire to make a living solely by their imagination and keyboard.
My dream is to write full-time, but for now I juggle writing and marketing with my work-from-home day job and family life. My advice to others is the same as what I’m trying to do: be professional. Have a set place and time to work. Meet self-imposed deadlines. Keep learning the craft. And don’t revise the same manuscript fourteen times … move on and bring your growing skills to a new story. If you can produce quality words on a regular basis, doors will eventually open and you’ll be prepared to maintain the new momentum. But in the meantime, don’t quit your day job.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing? Explain why.
Right now, it’s basketball season and I enjoy watching my senior son play ball. While we’re praying for open doors (and scholarships!) to play at the next level, I’m soaking in a series of his lasts (last Homecoming dance, last football game, …) before graduation. My other two kiddos also participate in sports, so I’m busy cheering on the home team because this season of life won’t last forever. In whatever free time remains, I also read and watch movies to refill the storytelling tank.

Thanks for sharing with us, Candee!

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