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 my toes!
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.
The 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 Choice?
The power of the tongue to hurt or harm, bring life or death, pain or joy. And always—redemption!
How do you decide on your characters and their names for your books?
Katelyn 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 my characters.
Do you have another book coming soon?
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.
How you can learn more about Susan: