Today, Love Lines from God welcomes author, Susan Mathis.
After a career in writing nonfiction, I hear you’ve settled into writing only historical fiction. What is your most difficult writing obstacle?
Transitioning from writing nonfiction to historical fiction was a huge leap but a wonderful discovery in finding my sweet spot. I studied fiction writing for about two years before launching out in this wonderful journey. I read books about the craft, went to writing conferences, and learned from mentors, critique groups, and more, and I’m thrilled to dedicate the rest of my writing career to this genre. Now I have five published historical fiction books on the market and am working on another for the end of the year.
Why do you write what you do and where do your ideas come from?
I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands. In fact, my husband and I visit the Thousand Islands region in upstate NY every summer. It’s a beautiful, largely unknown piece of the world where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. There are nearly 1800 islands there, including the largest, Wolfe Island, which is in Ontario, Canada.
I chose the Gilded Age because that’s when the playground of the rich and famous took off—1872 until about 1910. The Bournes were one of the Gilded Age titan families from New York city whose “hunting lodge” called The Towers was built on Dark Island. Intrigue, mystery, and beauty surround this Thousand Islands Gilded Age story.
All summer long, tourists enjoy cruising around the Thousand Islands, passing by Pullman Island (the setting of my first novel, Katelyn’s Choice), and hearing the stories of yesteryear. As a historic landmark, these islands are invaluable, and so are the stories that go with it.
What kind of research did you have to do?
Ah, how I love research, and I love to be accurate. Besides combing through volumes of information, there’s nothing like being there on the island. The owner of the island has had us over to visit the island twice now. He’s toured us around and let us roam at will to get the “feel” of being there. My sweet hubby took hundreds of photos that jog my memory as I write.
I’m also super blessed because my historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and has written several nonfiction books about the island. She’s awesome and has gone through each of my manuscripts with a fine-tooth comb. When I mistakenly have my character take a left instead of a right to get to the kitchen, she faithfully corrects me.
What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?
Sleeping. I lie in bed and think about the next scene, the next chapter, and the next book until I have to get up and write it down.
What are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?
Being salt and light in this ever politically-correct and darkening world without beating readers over the head with the truth. We need to season our writing with love and truth, but also make it palatable for not just the choir.
If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? And how long does it typically take you to finish your books?
It takes me less than six months to write a full-length novel—three to four months for a novella. I guess the hardest thing was knowing how much detail to add to my story. There was so much interesting information I could’ve added, but that’s where my wonderful editor helped me slice and dice it to perfection.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
Spending so much time marketing, low return on investment (few authors get paid what they deserve) and Amazon gobbling up so much of the marketplace.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
Dreaming up the story! The characters. The scenes. The plot. And taking real historical figures and places and integrating them into a story that shows what it was like back then. My imagination really is my playground.
Tell us a little about Devyn’s Dilemma.
Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?
1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.
Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.
Can you give us your social links so others can follow you?
Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.
Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children's picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.
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