Today, we welcome author, Susan Mathis, to Love Lines from God.
Susan, tell us about your book, Katelyn’s Choice.
The Gilded Age comes to life in this first installment of the Thousand Islands Series with Katelyn’s Choice.
Katelyn Kavanagh’s mother dreamed her daughter would one day escape the oppressive environment of their Upstate New York farm for service in the enchanting Thousand Islands, home to Gilded Age millionaires. But when her wish comes true, Katelyn finds herself in the service of none other than the famous George Pullman, and the transition proves anything but easy.
Thomas O’Neill, brother of her best friend, is all grown up and also working on Pullman Island. Despite Thomas’ efforts to help the irresistible Katelyn adjust to the intricacies of her new world, she just can’t seem to tame her gossiping tongue—even when the information she’s privy to could endanger her job, the 1872 re-election of Pullman guest President Ulysses S. Grant, and the love of the man of her dreams.
When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to fourth to eighth graders, had my own newspaper column, have written missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path.
Before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of 12 Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with my husband, Dale. I also authored two picture books and am published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens.
I swore I’d never write fiction, but never say never! My hubby and I went to a book talk/signing, and after we left, I jokingly said, “I could write a story about a quilt!” I then proceeded to tell him the entire story, and he said, “Well, write it!” Thus began my journey of writing historical fiction.
Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?
I grew up in the Thousand Islands, and there are so many wonderful stories to tell. The Thousand Islands Gilded Age is full of wonderful islands and characters like George Pullman, Frederick Bourne, and hundreds of famous people like J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, and others. So I aim to tell at least some of them.
Why do you write what you do?
I fell in love with the Thousand Islands as a young girl, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that I felt inspired to write The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series. By then I had completed my debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, a story set partially on the largest island, Wolfe Island, Canada. Christmas Charity is also set in the Thousand Islands.
What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
Time. I have too many ideas for one lifetime.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
A few years ago, my husband and I visited Wolfe Island, Pullman Island, and Singer Castle on Dark Island. We met some wonderful people who kept the intriguing Thousand Island history deep in their hearts, and I gleaned all kinds of valuable information and made special friends in the process. My historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and a Thousand Islands author herself. Seeing and experiencing the area as I wrote made my writing come to life, and my historical editor keeps the history accurate.
If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?
The market is so inundated by the good, the bad, and the ugly that it’s hard to find the space and audience.
If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?
Both of my novels took about six months to write. The hardest part was finding the time to get it out of my head and onto my computer. The toughest scene to write was a near-drowning scene. As a former lifeguard, I know how traumatic it is to nearly drown.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
The time it takes to do all the marketing, social media that constantly changes its algorithms, and the challenges of building a platform.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
Everything! I love creating a world and characters that touch the readers’ lives.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
In all my stories, I include an Irish character and tea, since I’m Irish and love tea! But faith, hope, and love are reoccurring themes in my stories.
What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
I enjoy reading everything from children’s picture books to nonfiction to contemporary and historical fiction. But if I had to choose, I’d settle in with Christian historical fiction and that’s what I’m writing from now on.
Tell us about your next project.
Book two of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series comes to life in Devyn’s Dilemma. It’ll release in April 2020. Here’s the summary of the story: Twenty-year-old Devyn McKenna is nervous about working on Dark Island in the imposing Castle called the Towers, a 28-room structure complete with dungeons, underground passageways, and castle secrets. Devyn struggles to find the self-confidence she needs to carry out her duties as a housemaid in the summer home of the wealthy president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Frederick Bourne. As she serves the likes of Brig. Gen. Cornelius Vanderbuilt III and others, her curiosity for learning grows. But when she is accused of stealing his plans for expanding the NYC subway and learns her brother ‘borrowed’ the plans and the man she loves believes she was the culprit, her faith is tested like never before.
Thank you, Susan, for spending a few minutes with us today. We wish you the best as you continue your writing journey.
Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at http://www.SusanGMathis.com.