Susan F. Craft, author of the historical novel, The Chamomile, was once an Army brat, who has lived in Columbia, SC, sixty years. She married her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog.
Susan has worked for SC Educational Television, the SC Department of Mental Health, the SC College of Pharmacy, and currently the SC Senate.
She’s a history nerd who enjoys painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on her front porch watching the rabbits eat all her day lily bulbs.
Susan, it’s great to have you at Novel PASTimes today. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing?
Thank you so much for inviting me.
I’m constantly surprised by the learning curve for authors as far as technology goes. I’m over 60, so I didn’t grow up with computers and such and am not that comfortable with technology. Publishers demand that authors create a strong platform (a network) through: a website; blogs; email; FaceBook; Pinterest; texting; and Twitter. An author can no longer simply sit at her desk and write. She must wade out into the fray of social networking. It can be fun interacting with people who leave comments on blog posts, but learning how to use all the technology can be daunting for someone like me.
Please tell us something about your novel, The Chamomile.
Lilyan Cameron joins Patriot spies in British occupied Charlestown, SC, to rescue her brother from a notorious prison ship. "I’ll lie, steal, kill or be killed", she promises Nicholas Xanthakos, a scout with Francis Marion’s partisans, who leads the mission. In Nicholas’ arms she discovers enduring love. A home. But a home that is a long time coming. Her journey requires she save the life of one British officer and kill another to save her Cherokee friend. In escaping bounty hunters, she treks 200 miles of wilderness and very nearly loses everything before finally reuniting with her true love.
The Chamomile is set in Charlestown, South Carolina during the Revolutionary War period—one of my favorites! What drew you to write about this time period and the location of your story?
My small state has an amazing history, and many people aren’t aware of the huge part it played in winning the Revolutionary War. Charleston, known as Charlestown until 1783, is a fascinating city that emits the most amazing vibes (sorry, I’m a 60’s girl) when you walk its streets.
The Revolutionary War was a turbulent time of high passions and human drama -- America’s first civil war that tore families apart. Just about everything about the time period appeals to me. A soft glow reflected in a pewter mug, a crisp white mobcap, delicate lace dripping from the elbow of a sleeve, a neatly tied cravat, fiery and impassioned voices arguing over the war, the smell of freshly brewed tea – all of these things stir my imagination.
Here’s how my character Lilyan Cameron describes her beloved city:
Outside on the stoop, Lilyan paused to breathe in the cool air, rich with salt from the sea and the pungent odor of loamy soil settled atop centuries-old layers of oyster and clamshell shards.
She pulled her cape tighter against a blustery wind that whipped in from the Ashley and the Cooper, twin rivers that flowed on either side of Charlestown. At the tip of the peninsula, the rivers joined together in a rush to the sea, forming marsh-lined inlets and tiny islands that peppered the bay areas, ripe with oysters, shrimp, loggerhead turtles, and myriad species of waterfowl and wildlife.
Have you found that similar themes throughout your writing? Why? Or why not?
I do have similar themes throughout my writing--faith under pressure and letting go of willfulness and reliance upon self-sufficiency.
I visualize my body of work as a tapestry through which I’ve spun a golden thread of faith made from finely hetcheled flax silk. Although it may disappear from sight, it’s always there, a constant foundation, binding the piece together.
What drew you to writing historical novels?
My seventh grade South Carolina history teacher, Lucia Daniel, brought history to life for me, and it’s fascinated me since. Francis Marion became a real person when she explained his heartbreak at losing his dear nephew, his intended heir, who was killed by the British when they discovered his connection to General Marion. After that, I began to see the figures in history as not just names I had to memorize, but as real, sometimes ordinary people who rose to the occasion (or not) when called upon during extraordinary circumstances.
If you’re anything like I am, one favorite book is hard to pick! Do you have two or three top picks among the historical genre that you would care to recommend?
I recently read Burning Sky by Lori Benton. It’s extraordinary. I recommend anything written by the authors who belong to a group called Colonial American Christian Writers. We have a blog, Colonial Quills, where we feature interesting information we come across in our research.
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
More tomorrow from author, Susan F. Craft. Please answer her question below in the comment section to qualify for a drawing of her historical novel, The Chamomile.
Do you prefer the heroes and heroines in the novels you read (especially romantic suspense novels) to be handsome or beautiful?
To be entered in this week’s drawings, please do the following:
1) Answer the question.
2) Leave your email addy in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com.
3) Leave your answer in the comments before 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday morning. Thank you!