Cara Cobb is a resident of Cassadaga, Florida, a small community known for having a large number of psychics and mediums. She’s written a memoir about her life in a religious cult.
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
My mother, a wealthy young Hungarian, was engaged to be married to a Nazi officer after WWII. Unfortunately for her, after the Allies won the war, the Americans allowed the Russians to first enter the cities that had been sympathetic to the Nazi cause. As our then allies barged through these marked cities, they plundered, raped and murdered the innocent populace.
My grandfather sent my mother and her two sisters out of Budapest ahead of the onslaught. They eventually trekked their way into Southern Germany, where they settled in a refugee camp high in the Bavarian Alps.
At the foot of the mountain was an American base, temporarily commandeered by a sergeant, an imposing New York Jew with a big heart, my father.
The Hungarians were hungry, cold and lacking in water and milk for their children. They needed help but were afraid to approach the Russian allies camped below. No young men were available to solicit the Americans, so the decision was made to send a beautiful woman with a big mouth.
My mother walked into the American camp— The rest is history.
I was born in Germany (February 14, 1952) and raised in the military. As we traveled, my mother insisted that we learn the language, participate in the culture and eat the foods of each locale.
After graduating from Berlin American High School in 1969, I married a GI from Hollywood, Florida. We returned to the states and settled in South Florida, where our first child was born in 1973 and I obtained an AA in Elementary Education.
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
My father-in-law was a founder of a worldwide religious organization. My husband and I became very involved with the group and migrated to Fitzgerald, Georgia, to establish a community of “like believers” in 1978. Due to marital issues, I left my husband and the community in 2009.
My book, We Walk on Water, is a memoire of my 30+ years in the Move. My life there was unique, interesting and fulfilling. We gardened together, raised animals, birthed our babies at home, taught our own children and lived apart from the “world.” I left with no documented work experience to begin a new life at age 57.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
After leaving the Move, I learned of sexual, physical and financial abuse within the group that had been covered up. After my in-laws and mother passed, I decided to document my own experiences with candor, humor and love as an expose of this little-known, world-wide group.
The Move is the subject of a recent People’s Discovery Investigates Cult series for which I was interviewed. It is presently available on Amazon Prime Video and other venues.
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
My biggest “aha” moment was when the UPS man delivered six boxes of my book to my door-step. I measure any success by the reactions of my readers, some of whom are former students from whom I have not heard in decades calling or writing to tell me how much my book means to them or how I have positively impacted their lives.
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
Books that have influenced me….. hmmmm, starting as a child with Edgar Allen Poe, Inspector Maigret and most recently, Educated by Tara Westover and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. And I love Bible stories, especially the ones they don’t read in Sunday school.
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I do not write every single day. I keep an electric typewriter open to type quick thoughts or reminders of things to add to stories later into my laptop. When I do serious writing, I usually go in spurts, having to stop every so often to “clear my palate” with housekeeping, errands, phone calls and such.
What are your interests outside of writing?
Outside of writing, we are very social and enjoy entertaining friends. My partner and I are yard-sale and thrift-store junkies. He owns several properties (three of which we use, the others are rentals) and we fill them with found art and unique furniture pieces. Oh, we also have a mannequin population in our Cassadaga home that I enjoy posing and dressing. In addition, I have three children and six grands (although, I see only one regularly).
Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
If you are a writer, you know you are a writer. Write!!!! Keep a journal, write little stories. When I went into the religious group, I burned much of my youthful writings. I do regret that, although I have retrieved much from memory.
Yesterday, a writer friend gave me a profound insight. “Pretend you and I were driving to Winn Dixie together. What would you see? Cars, stop signs, street corners. Now pretend we are walking the same route to the store. What would you see? Perhaps a dead bird on the side of the road, perhaps a lost shoe, maybe an abandoned kitten. Write as if you are walking.”
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers.