What a delight to welcome historical romance author Susan G Mathis. Readers of her recently released Katelyn’s Choice are calling it “a gripping story” and “a must read.”
Susan, you’ve been successful as a nonfiction author. Why did you turn to writing fiction?
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, and I’ve
found my playground. Creating memorable characters, weaving a meaningful story
around history, and using my imagination for God’s glory simply thrills me to
Tell us about the Thousand
Islands series and explain the Gilded Age.
The Gilded Age is the period from 1870-1910, just after the Civil War and before World War I. It is characterized by the expansion of the Industrial Revolution, growth in the economy, and unfortunately lots of social problems.
Thousand Islands Gilded Age begins in 1872 when George Pullman invited
President Grant to his island for a vacation. After this, the rich and famous
bought islands and built grand castles, mansions, and elegant cottages. Think
of it as a Downton Abbey meets the St. Lawrence River.
You’ve made several trips to the islands for research. How did you choose the Thousand Islands as the setting for your series?
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.
Katelyn’s Choice is the first book in the series. What’s it about?
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.
Your books always have a
strong Christian component. What subtle teaching will we find in Katelyn’s
power of the tongue to hurt or harm, bring life or death, pain or joy. And
How do you decide on your characters
and their names for your books?
is simply an Irish name I’ve always liked, and because I have a strong Irish
thread in all my stories, Thomas, Shamus, and McCarthy are also Irish names of
Do you have another book
Book Two of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series comes out in April 2020. It’s called Devyn’s Dilemma and here’s a 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’s accused of stealing Bourne’s investment money for expanding the NYC subway, her faith is tested like never before.
About the Author:
Susan G. Mathis is a multi-published author of both nonfiction and fiction. She’s a former editor/editorial director of twelve Focus on the Family publications and has served as founding editor of Thriving Family magazine. She’s currently vice president of Christian Authors Network (CAN), a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), and Evangelical Press Association (EPA). Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling globally, having visited more than forty countries. Her latest fiction series is set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands in upstate New York.
“You called me to write, Lord, but nobody wants my stuff. I guess I’m just not good enough.” I pushed my manuscripts aside and grabbed my car keys. Maybe hanging around the Christian Book Nook for a while would cheer me up.
Unfortunately, my downcast mood followed me. In the store, I drifted wistfully past the novels and began picking half-heartedly through the devotional books. One pierced my blue funk with a spark of interest. I read the first devotional, sampled one in the middle, and turned to the end of the book. The last piece quickly pulled me in. I devoured it.
“Wow, Lord, if only I could write as
well as this author, I’d really be getting somewhere!”
I flipped back a page to the byline. Really? I began to chuckle. The joke was on me. I had been admiring my own piece!
Yes, I still have a lot to learn. Writing and marketing manuscripts isn’t easy. But these days when I’m tempted to feel depressed about my progress, I remember how God once encouraged me with—of all things—my own writing.
After all, if the God who called us to write believes in us, who are we to doubt?
Dear Friends, in case you were wondering … After breaking both ankles in mid-September, I could do little for quite a while. But as of Monday — yea! — I’m well again. And deeply grateful to the Lord and the long list of kind people who made recovery possible.
So, what did I learn from this experience? (We are told that we learn from every experience, right?)
Walking on broken ankles, even with the aid of therapy boots and a walker, is painful! But then, pain often interrupts our everyday lives. It’s what we do with it that makes the difference.
God walks with us through those painful parts of our lives. And, if we let him, he provides others who are willing to help. Like the neighbor who abandoned a big football game on TV to take me to the hospital. Hospital and rehab center staff who were positive angels of compassionate care during those first two weeks. Church family and friends who rushed to visit and pray. And brought gifts and cards to cheer me. Family and friends who equipped my house for safety before I went home to finish recovering. Friends who stayed with me around the clock for two days until my sister-in-law could fly in from Florida to care for me for three weeks. Other out-of-state family who surprised me by visiting in person for a few days. I could go on, but you get the picture.
We may lose a lot, but we gain even more. I had to cancel attendance at a major writing conference in Nashville, a multi-author book signing sponsored by a Christian bookstore, and a major speaking engagement. Surprise! … I learned from nurses and therapists that my body drained energy from the rest of it to invest in healing my ankle bones. No wonder I felt tired and foggy much of the time! But through it all, I learned I could persist and work toward wholeness with God’s help and the help of others.
Though it seems impossible, the pain eventually comes to an end. It may take days, months, years. I know. Less than two weeks into rehab, I wept, fearful the pain might never end. That I might never recover. But the old adage is true: “This, too, shall pass.” At the right time and in the right way as we lean on the Lord.
Whatever you are going through, you are not alone. The Lord is with you, and he cares. With his help, determine to keep inching toward wholeness. Lean on him and wait for his right timing for your pain to end. It will come to pass! Every time.
Woot! It’s release day for Her Deadly Reunion, and I’m interviewing Jill and Clay to find out how they’re feeling about this latest adventure in their lives.
So Jill and Clay, I’m glad to have you with us on this exciting day! We know you two met and came to love each other in the first book, Her Deadly Inheritance. What did you hope to accomplish in this second story in your series?
Jill (sitting on my couch next to Clay): At my birth father’s invitation, I went to Milwaukee to meet him, hoping finally to know the loving father-daughter relationship I longed for all my life. But I arrived to find he might not have long to live. My heart broke, knowing we might have so little time. And discovering someone might be trying to kill him frightened me into action. Not the first Christmas I had envisioned with him.
And how about you, Clay?
Clay (with his arm around Jill): I went with Jill to give her the support she would need. But also with big plans to make our first Christmas special. I intended to include her father in my plans, if he was willing. Never had I experienced so many obstacles. And danger? I wasn’t sure any of the three of us would escape the deadly trap a killer had set for us. Jill is right–this was not the beautiful Christmas we expected until ….
Obviously all turned out well, since you two are here today and healthy.
Clay (smiling at Jill): Yes, Jill and I–with God’s help–make a good team.
You sure do. But now that this second adventure is over, what good news can readers expect in your future?
Jill: Clay leaves soon to renovate a historic hotel in Port au Prince, Haiti, and I will join him the last two weeks to finish plans for our wedding on Easter morning.
That is good news! You’re not expecting any more difficulties, are you?
Jill and Clay smile and shrug their shoulders, and I don’t blame them. Trouble does seem to find them wherever they go!
It likely won’t be different in the third book in their series,Her Deadly Vows.
Dear Reader, if you have any questions for Jill and Clay, please let me know, and I’ll ask them.
Believe it or not! We woke up to a “Merry Christmas” morning today. A bit early … as it’s early November yet … but hey! It’s beautiful and MOST APPROPRIATE.
Why? Because …
Believe it or not, in just seven days Her Deadly Reunion releases! And … it has a Christmas setting in beautiful Wisconsin. With all the celebration and snow tucked into Jill and Clay’s continuing romance. And heart-stopping suspense as they race to outwit a yet another killer.
You’ve been asking for this sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance (Thank you so very much!). So here’s your chance to grab a copy. Go to Amazon or order it through your local bookstore. And enjoy!
Blessings to you all … and Merry Christmas (when it arrives)!