You know when you just need one of those sit-down, curl-up, get-lost-in novels? Well, Kate James’ debut novel, Can You See Anything Now? might just be your perfect fit. Kate is lovely and authentic and raw and holy – and in that way, her book doesn’t then deviate from her personality. Enjoy the interview!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? One of the most troubling things about me is that I can’t seem to pin down what my name is: Katherine, Katie, Kate. I go by all 3. Most of my life I’ve been called Katie, but then Katie doesn’t seem quite right for a married woman with 3 adult children, so I made what I thought would be an easy switch to Kate. And then someone had to mix it up by telling me that Katherine James is such a great name for an author (although entirely un-google-able; there’s a lot of us out there), which didn’t help the decision process. There’s a lot of confusion. But Kate works well enough.
I grew up in the Chicago area and presently live near Philadelphia. I’m married to Rick (yes, that would be Rick James, but not of Superfreak fame), who’s a writer/philosopher/preacher, and we have 3 grown children. We live in an older cozy, white cape cod with a big living room window that has a ladder leaning against it outside because Rick’s trying to caulk the panes before winter. I became a Christian in college and have no problem with bumper stickers that say ‘Jesus is my co-pilot’.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? My novel, Can You See Anything Now? follows a year in the town of Trinity in upstate New York. The characters are pretty complex—Margie is a suicidal artist who ends up teaching her evangelical neighbor, Etta, how to paint nudes. Her husband, the town therapist, has difficulty understanding people in general, let alone his complicated wife. The characters seem satisfied with the limited connections they have with their neighbors, however when their college aged daughter Noel brings her troubled roommate home from college, a tragedy occurs that reveals the real motivations and desires of those involved.
It’s not a sentimental story—it’s very real, even raw—but just as in real life, there’s an awful lot of grace evident in the novel for those who are looking for it.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? Ha ha, well as far as initial inspiration, I just happened to be taking a walk one afternoon and passed a small lake and my imagination got the better of me. The lake and my imagination inspired the first chapter.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I would love for readers to revisit their assumptions about those who are different from them. In our day of the echo chamber, when we’ve trained our Facebook feeds to tell us more of what we already believe, and we listen to this news station or that news station to confirm our present take on things, I think it’s a good time to be open to ‘loving our neighbors’ in a real way, which I don’t think is possible unless you get to know them and listen to them. This doesn’t mean changing your own views, just being open to the possibility that your neighbor, in spite of disagreeing with you, has a good heart. My hope is that some of the stories that unfold in the little town of Trinity will help readers understand that no one is only one dimensional and there are things we can discover about each other that are ultimately very encouraging.
But perhaps more than this, it would make me really happy if readers began to think more about God: his love, his sovereignty, that he wants us to know him, and can ‘work all things together for good’ (Romans 8:28)
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? Writing this novel, honing in on each individual character, has confirmed more than ever for me how complicated we as individuals are. I like to think the characters in Can You See Anything Now? are pretty complex for a novel, but they barely hint at the complexities of a person’s soul. The more I wrote about each individual the more I realized that I could keep writing about them for the rest of my life and they’d still be flat as a pancake next to a real, breathing human being. And even as I wrote about each of them, I grew to love them more and more, even one of them who is particularly shallow. If I feel that way about made up people, perhaps discovering more about the people around me would surprise me and I’d tap into a tiny bit of the same kind of love God loves us with.
How and where can we find you on the internet? Katherinejameshome.com
So, want to win a copy of Can You See Anything Now? Leave a comment on this post, or head directly over to Instagram for a couple more chances to win. Winner will be drawn on Friday, November 3rd – good luck!
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