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Interview with Kara Isaac

Where did you come up with the idea for Close to You?

As much as I would love to claim the idea, it actually came from an editor that I pitched to at the ACFW Conference in 2013. My agent had submitted two of my manuscripts to her and I thought we were going to talk about those, instead she asked me if I had ever thought about writing a book set in New Zealand around the Lord of the Rings movies. I thought it was crazy! But I immediately had this idea of a disillusioned tour guide and a failed entrepreneur and so six weeks so later I started to write the story that became Close To You.

Are you a Tolkien fan?

On a 1 to 10 scale where “1” is I’ve have never even heard of J.R.R. Tolkien let alone read his books or watched the movies and a “10” is attending The Lord of the Rings movie marathons in Elvish garb, I’d rate myself as a very average five.

What did you enjoy most about writing Close to You?

A few months into writing the first draft, I heard from my agent that the editor who initially suggested the idea to me had let him know that her publishing house was putting an indefinite hold on acquiring any new contemporary romance authors. Because I was writing the story specifically for her, and honestly didn’t believe that any other publisher would be interested in a crazy romantic comedy set in New Zealand around The Lord of the Rings, I had zero expectation that this would be the story that would result in my first publishing contract! As a result I wrote with a sense of freedom and just had fun putting the characters on the page, not worrying about whether a certain editor or publishing house would like it.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

I started writing when I was five months pregnant with our second child and finished it when she was six months old. She wasn’t a great sleeper and so fighting through the newborn sleep deprivation haze was definitely a challenge. To this day I don’t remember writing some of the chapters! That’s how I know that God has a purpose for this story—because it got written when I felt at my least capable as a writer.

Did you do anything special to research your book?

I visited locations around Wellington where I live and the first part of the book is set. I also had some friends who visited Hobbiton while I was writing and kindly took 300 photos for me since it wasn’t possible for me to travel up there with a newborn. A few of the other locations I had previously visited on holidays so it was fun being able to weave them in.

What’s your favorite thing about writing romantic comedies?

I love being able to put my characters into some truly ridiculous situations! With Close To You it was even more fun because The Lord of the Rings tour location component provided even more scope to write some scenes that in any other story would just have been completely unbelievable.

What actors/actresses do you see playing your main characters if your book was turned into a movie?

For Jackson Gregory I see actor Jesse Williams who plays Dr. Avery on Grey’s Anatomy. I modeled Allie on an early nineties Gillian Anderson. She’s probably a bit on the older side to play Allie in a movie now so actress Emma Stone would be my next pick.

Who/What inspires you to write?

So many things, but here are four:

  1. God, because I have seen Him open so many doors to make this crazy dream of having a novel traditionally published come true.
  2. My husband, who wouldn’t touch a romance novel with a barge pole voluntarily but has always encouraged me to persevere and co-financed the whole pursuit.
  3. My five critique partners who are all amazing writers and always turn my stories into so much better than anything I could ever managed on my own.
  4. And, of course, my agent and the whole publishing team at Howard Books who believed in my stories enough to take a chance on a debut author in a really tough industry.

Now that I have a book out there in the big wide world, I guess there’s a fifth thing! Hearing from readers who enjoyed Close To You also inspires me to keep putting words on the page, especially in the times when it just feels like nothing is working!

Who/What has been the biggest influence to your writing career?

My five critique partners: Jaime Wright, Laurie Tomlinson, Halee Matthews, Sarah Varland, and Anne Love. We have been through so many joys and disappointments together – both in writing and in life.

It’s only because of their encouragement and talking me off many ledges when this whole crazy writing dream felt (and feels!) way too hard that I’m a published author today. And I wouldn’t even want to think about the state my stories would be in without their brutally honest feedback!

What author(s) do you look up to? And why?

It’s a very long list! I think Susan Meissner writes like an angel and will always be grateful for the time she took to encourage me at one of my earliest ACFW conferences before I was even agented. Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart was what convinced me that there was a place for my voice in Christian fiction. I am a huge fan of her writing and she is such a fun person!

Please share one resource, piece of advice, or book that you’ve found helpful in your writing career

The first craft book I ever read was Donald Maass’ Writing The Breakout Novel after attending his Early Bird session at my first ever ACFW Conference (2009). It totally transformed my writing!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just received the final galleys back on my October release, Can’t Help Falling, so most of my reading time is going into proofing those! I’ve just finished The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim and am bereft that I’m going to have to wait another nine months to find out what happens! I’m also looking forward to diving into Becky Wade’s Her One and Only and Amy Sorrell’s Lead Me Home.


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. Check in with her at:

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