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Interview with Cara Putman

Can you give us a behind the scenes look at what went in to creating Beyond Justice? What sparked the idea?
I reached a point a few years ago when editors started asking me for legal ideas. While most of my books have legal characters, few had legal threads. This gave me the opportunity to dive deep into a world I know well. But I also knew I needed to somehow find an idea that would engage me for the couple year process from creating the proposal to writing the book to editing and then to marketing. That was when I started reading articles about the unaccompanied juvenile illegal immigrant crisis, and my writer’s mind and momma’s heart took off.

What did you enjoy most about writing Beyond Justice?
I loved creating the cast of characters. Hayden and her friends are recurring characters in this series. In addition, it was so fun to draw on my experience in the legal realm to craft this series.

Was the case that Hayden, your main character, is fighting difficult to construct?
It actually was because I knew I needed it out of Texas where the crime is committed. And I really wanted to put it in the Court of Federal Claims because I clerked there and am pretty familiar with how it works. However, the Court of Claims doesn't hear criminal matters. That meant I got to create a novel legal argument, but it passed my straight face test, which is critical when I’m actually appearing in front of judges. I’m actually curious to see how my argument would work in front of a real judge.

Can you give us a sneak peek at Andrew Wesley? What’s your favorite part of his character?
Andrew was exactly everything Hayden didn’t want, and she was his worst nightmare. He has a strong bias against attorneys because of his childhood, so it was fun to create him. Also, I gave him the quirk of being a political cartoonist by night…a result of brainstorming years ago with dear friends and neighbors. The husband is an artist, and I thought it would be such fun to have a character who is one, but his father’s a powerful Congressman, so Andrew thinks he has to keep his other career hidden.

What was one thing you learned while writing Beyond Justice?

That adding layers can lead to a very bloated manuscript. Because this is a full length novel, I had so many ideas for ways to make the book richer, but each has an associated word count. That means that what was supposed to be an 85,000 word novel, was sent to the amazing Amanda Bostic at 130,000 with a desperate plea for help. I think the final count was around 95,000, and that’s where the books in this series seem to be landing.

Writing is a process, both physical and spiritual, for all of us. Was there something that the Lord taught you through writing Beyond Justice that you’d care to share with us?
I was reminded how much He is the Father to the fatherless and how much each life matters to Him. There’s a sentence I wrote where Hayden is saying that either every life matters to Him, or none do. That’s a powerful sentiment, especially in a world that seems hopelessly out of balance when it comes to what’s valuable. I also struggle with the same angst that Hayden does of being too much and not enough all at the same time.

Would you choose to play the role of your main character if your book was turned into a movie?
Hayden is so much of me, my answer would be an automatic yes. Fortunately, no stunts (ala Wonder Woman) are required.

What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I love writing. It’s part of who I am and has been a dream and need of mine since I was thirteen. Ideas come from all over, and it keeps me fresh. I can always work to become a better writer. And I can always keep my eyes open for new ideas.

What has been the biggest influence to your writing career?
My biggest influences have really come in the form of people. My mom homeschooled me in the early days, and I learned how to write from her. Colleen Coble is the one who has been my biggest cheerleader and the midwife to my books. But writing is a community and there are so many who have encouraged or taught me along the way. My life is so much richer for it.

What authors do you look up to? And why?
Colleen Coble because I want to encourage and mentor others like she has done with me. Rachel Hauck and Susie Warren for the way they can break down and teach writing concepts. Lacy Williams for her mastery of the hybrid world. Tricia Goyer for letting me watch her process, and now we coauthor for Guideposts. There are really too many to name.

What are you currently reading?
Multiple books. I actually plowed through Joel Rosenberg’s latest series as well as several soon to be released novels while I was in Italy. I’m currently reading Jaime Wright’s The House on Foster Hill.

Do you have an all time favorite book you can share with us? Why is it your favorite?
I love books. It’s impossible to pick one. I love books that pull me back time and again. The ones that feel like good friends.

Any parting words?
If this is your dream, then do the work to accomplish it. Think about what you have to give up to make space for writing. How can you learn the techniques you need? How can you get where the people who can help you are? The ACFW conference and chapters are a great way to grow and improve. They are also where you will meet the people who understand the journey you are on.

That's great advice. Thanks for sharing with us, Cara!


Emilie Hendryx is a freelance writer and photographer living in the heart of Washington, D.C. She writes romantic suspense while dreaming up YA Sci-Fi dystopian worlds on the side. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time you can find her playing guitar or reading a book all while drinking too much coffee.

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