Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Interview with Kristy Cambron, author of The Ringmaster’s Wife

Welcome my new writer friend Kristy Cambron to the blog today! She's here to talk about her new novel, The Ringmaster's Wife. 


Kristy agreed to host a book giveaway contest where YOU have the chance to WIN a copy of her novel! Exciting, isn't it?

Enjoy my interview with Kristy! 

*Words from Alexis are in bold, words from Kristy are not in bold.

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Alexis: Welcome to my blog, Kristy! Thanks for agreeing to an interview about your new novel!

Kristy: Thanks for having me as a guest today, Alexis. I’m glad to be here!

What were the unique challenges of writing this historical novel?

The Ringmaster’s Wife was my first opportunity to explore writing a work of semi-biographical fiction and that certainly posed a challenge or two. I had to consider the depth of research that would be required to ensure we got the story right. Up to this point, I’ve only ever given a voice to fictional characters. I may have had true historical figures referenced in a novel, but they did not have a unique voice, motivation or character profile. So it was new for me to weave fictionalized scenes into Mable Ringling’s life– a real-life character whose story has already been written by our human history. The research was fascinating, though, and the chance to stretch as a writer was simply too much to pass up.

Who are your main characters and what makes them want to, as you say in your book’s summary, “chase a new life”?


The two pivotal characters in this book come from completely different worlds, but they meet in the middle of their prospective journeys and help one another along the way. Our semi-biographical characters is Mable (Burton) Ringling– who rose from humble beginnings to become the real-life circus queen and wife of John Ringling, of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. And our fictional main character is Lady Rosamund Easling– the privileged daughter of an English earl, whose wealth and prestige couldn’t make her happy. Though they started out in very different places in life, both women were the same in that they showed incredible bravery to step out, to risk everything and choose to live a life they’d dreamed of. There’s always risk with trailblazing; these women made me see that it’s possible to live a life that may seem unscripted to us, but has been wholly planned by God.

You’ve set Rosamund’s story in the Roaring Twenties. Why did you choose to write about that time era?

The Roaring Twenties really was a remarkable time in history. On the hinges of the Great War and the Spanish Flu epidemic that swept the world in its aftermath, those living in this time had to endure unspeakable loss, but also had to navigate the optimism that flooded the culture with vast societal change, advancements in science and technology, and the upheaval of many from a rural life to living more consumer-centric, urban ones. When you add the vibrancy of the circus, the fashion and art– even the music– into the mix, you get a story setting that is incredibly rich. I loved every moment of the research and the opportunity to see characters triumph over difficult circumstances permeating a post-war world.

What is about the Ringlings that makes Rosamund choose to join their nomadic lifestyle?

That’s a great question, because I don’t know that Rosamund actually chose the circus life; I think it chose her. She was already a bareback rider at heart– that’s true. But the connection Rosamund shared with her late brother, and the last gift he ever gave her (her beloved horse, Ingénue), is really the catalyst for her journey. It was love that propelled her forward, and the lack of love in an arranged marriage that nudged her onto the steamship that eventually carried her to America, and a home on a circus train. But once there in the midst of the performance world that was already a part of her heart, I think it would have been very difficult for Rosamund to turn back and live the life she’d fled. Adventure is part of who she is, and I happen to love that she embraced it fully.

What was the most rewarding part of writing this book?

There’s no question – it was the research.

I came to greatly respect Mable Ringling as a person, and then fell in love with the character she became. And it was the onsite research at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL that really helped me understand the legacy the Ringling and Burton families left for future generations. Spending a research days at the Ca’d’ Zan mansion (“House of John” in Venetian dialect) really made the story come to life. Everywhere the characters go in this book– from the Gatsby-inspired parties at the outdoor ballroom, to the piano-playing in The Court, and the quiet moments Rosamund and Colin share in the 5th story Belvedere Tower – every step they took was also offered to me. I’ll never forget the generosity of the Ringling staff, and the Ringling-North family descendants who shared so much information with me. It was a researcher’s dream.

What do you want readers to remember most about The Ringmaster’s Wife?

I think I’d want every reader to walk away from this book feeling really entertained. (I mean, it is a story of the circus set in the Jazz Age!) But I’d also like for readers to get to know Mable Ringling as a real person– not just a figure in the history books. I’d love for every person to be inspired to look beyond the scripted in their own lives, and to follow the calling God’s placed on their hearts with a relentless chase – especially when risk is involved. Because the truth of it is, we’ll never have regrets with our own life story if we’re following Jesus with everything we have.

Thanks for the interview, Kristy! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

I’m very grateful for my publishing family, who truly made this book a reality. But I’m also grateful to all of YOU – reader friends who have had such a pivotal role in making my own author dreams come true. Thanks for helping me to be brave (and dream a little), even when the path isn’t clearly cut. This book is proof that good things come when we step out and follow God’s lead!

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Author Bio:
Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN, was named to Library Journal Reviews' Best Books of 2014 and RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best of 2014 lists, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel.

Her second novel, A SPARROW IN TEREZIN, was named to Library Journal Reviews Best of 2015 list, and received a nomination for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best Inspirational Book of 2015. 

Kristy's third historical novel, THE RINGMASTER'S WIFE, was named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10 and will release from HarperCollins in June, 2016.

Kristy is a Speaker and Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com, and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

Connect with Kristy:

Facebook: Kristy Cambron | Twitter: @KCambronAuthor | Instagram: kristycambron

Pinterest: KCambronAuthor | Web: KristyCambron.com | TheGROVEstory.com 

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Win a copy of Kristy's book by entering the book giveaway contest via the Rafflecopter widget below:

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20 comments:

  1. Been looking forward to this book! I grew up in FL and went almost annually to the Ringinling Brothers circus.

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    1. Every time we visit FL, we come home wishing we lived there. (Though, who doesn't?) ;)

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  2. What a blessing to follow your dream and write books! We are so thankful that you are following God's calling for your life. What made you want to write this story of someone in the circus?

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    1. Great question, Vicky ~ I grew up loving classic films (thanks to my mom's influence), and had always loved The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). I never thought I could write about it until my publishing team came to me in late 2014 and said, "We think Mable Ringling has a story to tell and we want you to write it." And off we went. ;)

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  3. How did you decide on the cover for the book?

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    1. I LOVE art, so I wish I could say I get to have any part in the development part of the cover. I get to render my opinions, but the really snazzy design work is left up to the uber talented team at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. We did a specific photo shoot though, for the figure of Rosamund in the center. We chose the model and the 1920s outfit, and they added the image into the already-designed cover! Cool, huh?

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  4. Congrats, Kristy, on this new release! Fascinating interview!

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  5. I've heard so many wonderful things about this book, I can't wait to read it!! My question is, what is something that surprised you in your research that you never knew before?

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    1. Thank you, Abby!

      At the time of the setting for this book (late 1920s), there were 1,400+ performers/workers traveling with the circus, over 100+ train cars to carry it all from town to town, over 400 horses (wow!) AND these folks could put up the enormous Big Top in under 2 hours. How's that for surprise?! They were amazing!

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  6. At what age did you begin to have interest in writing?

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    1. Great question! I loved storytelling from childhood -- actually wanted to be a Disney animator. Instead of reading fiction, I read art history and animation books as a child. Years later (because I can't draw well enough to be an animator), I walked into an art history class in college and exhaled for the first time: I was home. Now I get to write about what I love -- art, history, Jesus & tell stories about them all. :)

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  7. What was the one big thought or reason for writing this book? I'm really curious as it seems quite different from your previous two. Congrats on your newest release!

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    1. Hi - Thanks for the question! It was a combination of: 1) Loving vintage/classic movies, in this case, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), one of my favorite films, and 2) my publishing family thought Mable Ringling had a story to tell. Those two things came together (with my love of historical research) to develop the story for this book. ;)

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  8. Sounds like a very unique book, never read any based on the circus! My only question, how do you strive to show your faith in your stories? Because really for me as a Christian fiction reader, while I like to be entertained, more importantly I want to see a faith theme throughout the writing! I love seeing God work through a writer's pen to reach out to us readers; whether it be to teach a lesson or to encourage us in our own walk with the Lord. It all boils down to that for me :-)

    Thank you for sharing on today's blog post & the giveaway chance!

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    1. Hi Trixi ~ That's a great question! I always let God lead me in the direction for the faith thread in a story. In my first 2 books, it was extremely strong, just because of the subject matter. (The Holocaust is a very heavy topic and demands such reverence that I couldn't see handling it any other way.) In The Ringmaster's Wife, the faith thread is more of an undercurrant because it's semi-biographical fiction, and Mable Ringling was more private in this way. I always want to be true to history -- and what I feel called to write.

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  9. I'd like to add, I've found a new blog to follow, yay!!

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  10. Super excited to read this story. I grew up in Tampa and love to read books set close to home. I can't wait to get to know Mable Ringling. 😃

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  11. This book sounds wonderful. My question would be, what was the most interesting information you found when researching this book?

    Thanks ~ Becky

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    1. There's SO much! I'm not sure I know where to begin. Some of the research on the earlier days of the circus was so interesting (as in the early 1900s, right around the time of John and Mable's marriage). But I also cherished the research in the late 1920s, with the flapper fashions (think Downton Abbey!) and the incredible access I was given at the Ca'd' Zan mansion in Sarasota. This book felt special because I had the opportunity to walk right where the characters did, and that came very close to home for this writer's heart.:)

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