Classic romance stories—that’s Amanda Cabot’s specialty. Her latest release, On Lone Star Trail (Revell), is no different! After a tragic accident with a motorcyclist wounds Gillian Hodge’s body and spirit, the last thing she wants to see is another man on a motorcycle. But God seems to have a sense of humor because widower TJ Benjamin is just that and he makes quite the impression on her. Amanda answered our questions about her fantastic new novel.
This book is about an unlikely pair. Gillian wants nothing to do with TJ but because of circumstances outside of their control, she is forced to help him. Where did the inspiration for this plot come from?
I’m often asked what inspired a particular story, and in most cases the answer is easy. On Lone Star Trail’s origin isn’t that simple to explain.
For a number of years, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a pianist whose career ends when her hands are injured. Why? Perhaps it’s because I play the piano, although I’m certainly far from a concert pianist. Perhaps it’s because when I was a teenager I injured one of my hands, although not as drastically as Gillian. Whatever the reason, I kept thinking about a pianist whose dreams had died along with her career. And so Gillian Hodge was born.
The next question became what kind of man would be the right one for Gillian. Enter TJ Benjamin. Like her, he’s had a life-changing event that left him wounded, although his wounds are interior.
On the surface, they’re all wrong for each other, but the more I got to know them, the more I realized they were perfect for each other–if only they’d take the time to look beneath the surface.
After her accident Gillian is dealing with a lot of pain and grief. Was it hard for you to climb into her skin and write this book?
Not really, but of course I took the “easy” way and began the story after Gillian’s months of surgery and physical therapy ended.Like many writers, once I start a book, the protagonists live in my head, demanding to be let out.
What makes Gillian and TJ such good leading characters?
Short answer: they both need healing. I’ve always been drawn to stories of healing, since to me one of the most wonderful things to experience is the healing power of love – first the love between a man and a woman, but more importantly God’s love for His children – so writing about these two wounded people who seek healing but don’t know how or where to find it made them ideal characters for me.
What’s the core message behind this novel?
Having read my answer to the last question, you won’t be surprised to learn that my theme is that God will heal even the worst of hurts, if only we ask Him.
Can you tell us about your writing process?
I’m definitely a plotter rather than a seat-of-the-pants writer, so before I start writing, I have a synopsis and a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book. Oh, I may make detours along the way, but those serve as my road map. Once I start writing, I write two chapters of the first draft each week, then do a second draft, again at a two-chapter-a-week pace. That’s followed by a final polishing that takes place over a day or two, and then the manuscript goes off to my editor. This very disciplined approach works for me, but I’ve seen other writers’ horrified expressions when they hear how I write. The good news is that there’s no right or wrong way to write, just the one that works best for each of us.
Would you say your books are typically plot or character driven?
My books are definitely character driven. For me, the key elements of every book are the characters – not just the hero and heroine, but all the people who find their way into the story. In the case of On Lone Star Trail, in addition to TJ and Gillian, readers will meet Mike, an up-and-coming politician who ought to be the perfect man for Gillian, and Brianna, a teenager with more than her share of problems.
Are you a paper or digital reader? And why?
I was a late comer to eBooks, but now I prefer them. Among other reasons, I like the lighter weight of an eReader compared to a trade paperback and the ability to change font sizes to accommodate different lighting conditions. I also like the built-in dictionary when I encounter an unfamiliar word. And, of course, there’s the fact that I can carry literally hundreds of books in a single small package.
This article was originally featured in our April issue of FamilyFiction. Read the rest of the issue HERE!