I’m delighted to welcome fellow Contemporary Romance Writers member Jim Cangany here today for an interview and a look at his debut contemporary romance, Fallen Star.
Hi, Jim, so glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Fallen Star:
Fallen Star is my debut novel. Published on June 14, 2013, it’s the first in my three book contemporary romance North Star Trilogy. One of the most unique aspects about the book, and the entire series for that matter, is that it’s told in first person from the hero’s point of view.
When ordinary guy, E.J. McCarty, crosses paths with not-so-ordinary Annie Wilson, extraordinary things happen. For E.J., it’s the start of a great adventure. For Annie, it’s an escape from colossal failure. But thanks to fate–and Amtrak–they’re thrust together on the cross-country ride of their lives.
E.J. and Annie like each other, so what’s the problem? Rock star/actress Cassandra Lawrence is the problem. Despite their obvious attraction to each other, Cassandra’s history in show biz and distrustful nature conspire to keep them apart.
Can E.J. break down the walls Cassandra has built around Annie? Can Annie learn to trust E.J. enough to let him even try? And what’s with E.J.’s bizarre dreams about the North Star? From Chicago, through the heartland and all the way to the Malibu Pier, they struggle to accept that while faith, hope and love are important, trust is the key to the future.
What inspired this story?
I’ve actually had the idea for Fallen Star in my head since my college days, circa 1987. I don’t want to give too much away, but the question of what would it be like to meet someone mysterious while traveling cross country hasn’t changed. The idea never went away, so a few years ago, I decided to get serious and put it down on paper.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
Right now, I’m finishing up the final story in my North Star Trilogy, Wish Upon a Star. I’m also very excited that my first short story, The Christmas Angel, will be released in just a few weeks, on December 13.
How do you come up with ideas?
Something will catch my attention that will lead to the question “what would it be like if…” From there, I let my imagination run with it. I’m very fortunate. Since I write contemporary romance, everything I see or hear is a potential idea source!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Having the story surprise me. I don’t do a lot of plotting, generally I prepare a one or two page outline at most to make sure I don’t end up completely in the weeds. After that, I let my characters take the lead and I follow along. Even when I know how the story will end, there are always twists and turns that I didn’t expect.
What is the best thing about being an author?
The opportunity to be creative. It’s so much fun to have an idea pop into my head and then take that idea and mold it into a complete story.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
I prefer evening. By then I have enough caffeine in my system for the brain to function.
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
I don’t know that I have a favorite hero or heroine. I’ve gotten to know those characters so well, they’re like friends to me. One character I’d love to get to know better is Gloria from the North Star Trilogy. She’s older and fills the wise, counselor role. It would be a lot of fun to write Gloria’s story someday.
How do you balance writing and everyday life?
It can be a challenge at times. I have a full-time job and a family, so my weekdays are pretty busy. During the work week, I try to spend an hour per day on some sort of writing related task; writing, revising, or critiquing. On the weekends, my goal is a minimum of two hours per day. Sometimes I meet or exceed my goals. Sometimes I don’t. For me, the important thing is to maintain a daily commitment to write something.
What do you like to read?
I try to support authors I personally know, so I read a fair amount of romance and young adult. I grew up on sci-fi and still love it. I just started a mystery series and am enjoying it.
Do you listen to music while you write? What are you listening to now?
I enjoy music when I’m writing, but I prefer quiet when I’m revising and editing. I’m listening to a lot of Sara Bareilles and The Head & The Heart these days as they both have new albums out.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
I owe my love of reading to my parents. My siblings and I always had plenty of reading material around the house. Fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines—we had it all.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
My characters Annie and E.J. from the North Star Trilogy! I joke that they started banging on the inside of my head so hard, I couldn’t ignore them any longer. When I told my wife and kids what I was doing, they were incredibly supportive.
What don’t most people know about you but you would like to share?
When I was a senior in high school, I played the lead role in our spring musical. I was Harold Hill in The Music Man. I had an absolute blast doing that. To this day, I have a box of mementos from it, including my copy of the script!
These are few of my favorite things:
1. pro bicycle racing
2. Star Trek, especially The Next Generation
3. a glass of Moscato
In addition to a romance, Fallen Star is a road trip story, as much Annie and E.J. travel cross country on Amtrak. Have you ever traveled by train? If so, what did you think? I’d love to hear about it.
A Giveaway! One commenter will received an electronic copy of Fallen Star and The Christmas Angel upon publication.
“And here we are,” Annie said as she dropped her purse in a window seat. Our seats were in business class, about two-thirds of the way down the train car on the right. She pointed above us to the baggage storage area. “Would you mind?”
“Not at all, least I can do.” I lifted her luggage over my head and placed it in the storage compartment. I gave the train car a once over, taking it all in, and okay I admit it, stalling. For some reason, it seemed that sitting down next to Annie was going to create some kind of commitment or bond or I don’t know what, between us. Or maybe I was just chicken. Here I was, a grown man and I was scared to sit down next to a pretty girl. How weak was that?
Fortunately, Annie came to my rescue.
“Here, come join me.” She patted the empty seat cushion next to her.
I may be chicken, but I’m not stupid. When a pretty girl asks you to sit next to her, you do it. I sat down and dropped my backpack between my legs. Looking around, I continued to study our train car and the other passengers that were finding their seats. The car seemed like a cross between a charter bus that you might take on a big group trip and an airplane, with an aisle down the middle and two roomy seats on one side, a single seat on the other. The windows were large to provide for great views once we got out of the station.
“Not bad. This business class is nice. I’ve never taken a train before, so this is all new to me.”
“Really.” Sarcasm dripped off each letter of the word. “The way your head won’t stop turning this way and that, it’s a wonder you haven’t gotten motion sick or something.”
“And I take it you’re an experienced train traveler?”
She nodded. “I’ve done train travel from time to time. It can be a nice alternative to flying or driving.”
The train lurched forward and we began our trip to St. Louis. “Wow, good to know I’m in such experienced hands. So where are you headed?”
Annie looked out the window. “Home.”
The way she said that single word, so wistfully, almost sorrowfully, told me I shouldn’t intrude, but I couldn’t help myself. She’d told me that she lived on the West Coast, but that was an awfully big area. “And where might that be?”
She started playing with a lock of hair by her ear. “Southern California, L.A. area.”
“Nice. So what do you do there?”
“Oh, I run my own business. It’s similar to a consulting thing.”
She sounded tired, as if whatever she did, she didn’t truly enjoy it. I was going to ask her more, but she leaned her seat back and closed her eyes.
“Please don’t take offense, E.J., but I’m kind of tired. I think I’m going to try to catch a little nap. Do me a favor. If I’m still asleep, wake me before we get to Bloomington please. I’d like to… Oh, you’ll do that for me, yes?”
“No problem.” I reached down, unzipped by backpack, and pulled out a red sweatshirt emblazoned with the yellow and blue logo of Cycles Forever, the bike shop back in Indy where I’d gotten my start. “Here, use this for a pillow.”
She stuck out her hand, took it without opening her eyes and placed her under her head. “Thanks.” She turned toward the window. “You’re a nice guy. Wish more people were like you.”
You can find Fallen Star at:
Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books
Bio: A lifelong resident of the State of Indiana, Jim Cangany is proud to call himself a Hoosier. The youngest of eight children, he grew up in a household full of books and people. Thanks to the influence of his older siblings, Jim gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi when looking for something to read. He wrote his first story at age fourteen. A school project, The Magic Coin was a fantasy that involved a king, some bad guys, and, not surprisingly, a magical token.
These days, Jim writes romance on the sweet end. If you ask him what is a guy like him is doing writing romance, he’ll reply, “Those are the stories in my head.” A believer that the world has enough doom and gloom, he likes stories with a happy ending, regardless of genre. He lives in Indianapolis with his wonderful wife Nancy and his two sons, Seamus and Aidan.
You can find Jim at:
Website – www.jimcangany.com
Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/jimcangany
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-Cangany-Author/193385657452953
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7134508.Jim_Cangany
17 thoughts on “Interview With Jim Cangany, Author of Fallen Star”
Good morning Babette, and thanks for having me. I’m thrilled to be here!
I heartily recommend Jim’s book! It’s the perfect read for the holiday season. (You’ll fall in love with his characters!) And yes, Jim, please write Gloria’s story!
Thanks, Brenda! I’d love to write G’s story. Now that I’m about finished writing Annie & E.J.’s story, I think I may be able to get Gloria to dish up a few things. Appreciate you stopping by!
Enjoyed the interview, Jim. Discovered that we’ve shared a few similar experiences [e.g., I played Tony in “The Boyfriend” — a musical production — as a H.S. senior].
My writing m.o. is also similar — chart the general direction and then let my characters surprise me as to how they get there.
As for train travel — only one long trip, as a grown man … to a family wedding. Much too rich an experience to go into here, but I blogged about it a long time ago … somewhere.
Great to see you here, Jeff! How about that, from musical theater to romance writing. While I have the utmost respect for the writer who plots out an entire story in advance, one of the things I love about writing is being not 100% certain what’s going to happen. I think that makes it much more of an adventure.
I agree completely that it’s an adventure. One of the big surprises for me has been when a minor character — whom I only needed as a one-time walk-on to deliver some info or perspective — later compels me to write her/him into more scenes! I really love that.
If I enjoy the book as much as I did the interview, then I’m in for a good read. I, like Jim, am a sucker for a happy ending. I’m looking forward to reading this first of the trilogy. And the final two books when finished. Good luck, Jim, and keep listening to those voices in your head.
You’e too kind, Claudia, thank you. Lucky for me, I have a number of voices in the old noggin that have been patiently waiting for me to finish telling Annie and E.J.’s story.
I love this interview. I also love Moscato (although our mutual friend Nan doesn’t) and The Music Man! The stories sound great, Jim!
Hi Liz! Thanks for visiting. Some day we’ll have to share a glass of Moscato, but just one so we don’t run into any Trouble in River City with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for Pool. 🙂
I loved your excerpt, Jim. How did you find writing in first person? I’ve been on a train exactly once in my life, on a short trip between Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario many years ago. I actually wouldn’t mind taking a train trip again, since flying can be so stressful, but you’d have to have a lot of time on your hands, at least in Canada. It takes a long time to get anywhere. Best of luck with your writing ventures!
Hi Jana! Great to see you. For the North Star Trilogy, writing in first person has been very natural. The challenge has been structuring the novels in sich a way that it doesn’t become a problem not being in Annie’s head. You’ve totally nailed it with train travel. If you can afford to not be in a rush, it can be very relaxing and quite fun. As an adult, I’ve been on two long train trips. The first was from Northern Indiana to Charleston, South Carolina via Philadelphia and took a good two days to get there. My second trip was basically the one that Annie and E.J. take in Fallen Star – from Chicago to the West Coast via St. Louis. That trip was a blast. Best wishes on your writing, as well!
I love train journeys – provided I have a seat by the window and a supply of snacks. I really enjoyed Fallen Star.
In the midst of the Dr Who excitement this week a lot of romance writers have commented on how they love sci-fi. I guess it’s the combination of stories about people and the fantastic leaps of the imagination.
Lovely interview Jim. It’s nice to know more about you.
Great to see you here, Rhoda! Thanks for stopping by. One of the things I admire about Europe is it’s passenger rail system, which is so much better than ours here in the States. I actually have a sci-fi romance idea in outline form that I hope to get to before too long. Best wishes on your writing!
I enjoyed the excerpt and the concept, that mysterious stranger on a cross-country trip, has me hooked. I’ve always fantasized about driving cross country, but a train would be even better. Time to revise the fantasy.
Thanks for dropping by, Pat! My one piece of advice about taking a train ride cross-country it to book in advance so you can get a sleeper car. Chicago to L.A. on the Southwest Chief takes two overnights. Would not have wanted to do that without a cabin to sleep in and access to a shower.
Thank you, again, Babette, for allowing me the pleasure of visiting with you here. It’s my pleasure to announce that the winner of a copy of Fallen Star along with a copy of The Christmas Angel when it comes out, is Patricia Dusenbury! I’ll contact you, Patricia and thanks so much to everybody for stopping by and commenting.