I met Clarice a few years ago at the American Christian Fiction Conference (ACFW) and have enjoyed our friendship ever since. She’s entertaining whether in conversation or in print. I’m so excited about her latest book. Make sure when you read it that you are in a location that laughing out loud won’t disturb others.
- Please tell us something about yourself, Clarice.
I grew up on Cape Cod—before it got crowded. The second oldest of six children, my days were spent playing make-believe with my siblings and friends in the backwoods of our rural neighborhood. We had the kind of family who was poor but didn’t know it.
My dedication in Double Header says a lot about my upbringing. “I credit my father for showing me the power of dreams and my mother for teaching me the value of working for them.”
During those formative years, I learned about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in church, but I hungered to know God better. That happened when I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior in 1980.
After three children and 20 plus years of marriage, I was widowed. Eight (long) years later, I was blessed to remarry (Ralph) David James. My dedication in Party of One says a lot about our relationship. “To my husband, David, who every day shows me he loves me, makes me laugh, and keeps me out of trouble as best he can.”
David and I live in Southern New Hampshire, where we are connected to a wonderful church family. Together, we have five married children and ten grandchildren.
- I know Party of One is based somewhat on your experience as a widow. Please share the journey of how you came to write this story.
About six months after I was widowed, I returned to the diner my late husband and I had frequented for decades. While seated at the table we had called ours, a server approached and asked if someone would be joining me. When I told her no, she asked me to move to the counter because their tables were reserved for two or more.
I drove up the street to another restaurant. The staff there treated me like they’d been awaiting my arrival all week. That restaurant was the inspiration for Cranberry Fare, the one featured in my book.
In the midst of one person’s insensitivity and another’s warm welcome, a seed for Party of One was planted. Originally, it began as a non-fiction book about the struggles and surprises of the middle-aged single life. When I remarried in 2006, my husband, David, suggested I turn my manuscript into a novel. Although based loosely on my life, fiction has its advantages; with a few keystrokes, I could make the protagonist younger, thinner, and richer!
- God often teaches us something through our writing, particularly if it is based on our own personal experiences. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Party of One?
Since my marriage had been a happy one, I was not opposed to remarrying one day. When I finally decided I was ready, I discovered God’s timing was not necessarily the same as mine. Patience took root once I tired of fighting it.
During those eight years of widowhood, I became aware of other lonely people, which resulted in my sharing my home at different times with four single women. I also prepared Tuesday night supper for the young adults in my church. My plan was to start Party of One, “a fellowship for those tired of dining alone.” Ironically, that didn’t happen until after I’d written the book and happily remarried.
- Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As I learned for myself, it’s not about me or my timing. It’s about God and his perfect plan for my life. Look around and see how you can help. You are his eyes and ears, his hands and his feet.
- Your novel Double Header, a stand-alone story, is the sequel and is also available so your readers won’t have to wait to continue learning about some of your characters. Where can readers find your books?
Ask at your local bookstore or order both Party of One and Double Header on Amazon.com and/or Barnes & Noble.
- I believe you have a third story written. Has it found a publishing home yet and if so when will it be available?
My third novel is titled, Manhattan Grace. Per my readers’ request, I continued the story of Gracie Camden, the aspiring actress/hostess you meet in Party of One. However, as are all my books, it’s a stand-alone story. Elk Lake Publishing has first dibs. I’ll be sure to let you know!
- What are your social media sights?
Website & Blog https://claricejames.com/
A signed copy of Party of One will be awarded to one commenter.
AUTHOR BIO: Clarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, or involved in home decorating projects. She and her husband, David, live in New Hampshire. Together, they have five married children and ten grandchildren.
PARTY OF ONE: When a widow breaks through grief, she falls flat on her face into loneliness. In a bold move for this private woman, she founds Party of One, a communal table for single diners. Outside of these weekly gatherings at a local restaurant, she has no intention of getting involved in the diverse lives of the people who join her. But God …
DOUBLE HEADER: A rising Boston sports columnist fears losing the unblemished memories of her father when she learns she has a brother no one knew existed. In her search to identify this walking insult to his memory, she learns that God’s playbook is less about her well-ordered plans and more about His.