Susan Mathis joins me today to talk about her latest release and how her journey shifted from writing non-fiction to writing Historical Fiction.
Thank you for joining us. Susan, you’ve had a long career in writing. Tell us how your journey shifted to writing novels.
I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote 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 three 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.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle transitioning from non-fiction to Historical fiction?
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, crit groups, and more, and I’m thrilled to dedicate the rest of my writing career to this genre. Now I’ll have five published historical fiction books on the market and am working on another for the end of the year.
What is your latest published project, Devyn’s Dilemma?
It’s 1910, in the 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.
Why did you choose this time and setting for the second in your Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma?
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, and hearing the stories of yesteryear. As a historic landmark, Pullman Island is 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, which make it really nice to 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.
If you could go back in time where would you go?
I’d love to meet my great-great-grandmother, Margaret, and hear what she thinks of her story, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
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 romance and that’s what I’m writing from now on. Smiles.
Where is your favorite place to write?
My dining room table overlooking the Rocky Mountain Front Range, Pikes Peak, and the Air Force Academy.
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, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.
Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/devyns-dilemma