Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Author spotlight: Kathleen Rouser

This week we’re thrilled to welcome one of our Novel PASTimes family members as our spotlight author!  
Kathleen (Kathy) Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. Kathleen’s debut novella, The Pocket Watch, part of the anthology, Brave New Century was published by Prism Book Group in November, 2013.

She studied communications and English at Michigan State University during her first college years. Kathleen has been published in Homeschool Digest and An Encouraging Word magazines and the Oakland Press. She currently enjoys writing devotional articles for a local women’s ministry newsletter and interviewing authors for the Novel PASTimes historical fiction blog. Her desire is to bring to life endearing characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives.

During a long career as a home school instructor, she and her husband reared three sons. She recently graduated with her Associate in Applied Science and is a part time mild-mannered Registered Dental Assistant by day. Kathleen is longstanding member of ACFW, former critique group moderator, past Genesis judge and current Great Lakes Chapter board member. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in southeast Michigan with her hero and husband of 32 years, Jack, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

Congratulations on the release of Brave New Century, with your novella The Pocket Watch! Introduce us briefly to the main characters.
Thank you, Leigh. I am so pleased to be with you at Novel PASTimes today!

Isabel Jones is a young woman who grew up in the Protestant Orphan Asylum of Detroit, knowing nothing about her birth family. Because of the sense of emptiness this has brought her, the orphanage director finally reveals items left behind by Isabel’s mother, including a ruby ring. This piques her curiosity even more. A sensitive, caring person, Isabel is content to care for the younger orphans, but she is pushed beyond the orphanage walls to become a companion to an invalid. That and a surprise encounter, with a young doctor, changes the course of her life.

Dr. Daniel Harper is kind-hearted, wanting to include those less fortunate in his medical care. His heart was broken by his childhood sweetheart. The last thing he wants is to court one of the pretty socialites his mother demands he spend time with. Isabel Jones, the girl who finds his lost pocket watch is exceptional, but he’s not interested in entangling his heart again.

And now that we know who we’ll be reading about, tell us a bit about the storyline for The Pocket Watch.
When Isabel Jones receives a ruby ring from the mother she never knew she wants more than ever to find her roots. When a young physician, Daniel Harper, rescues her from an oncoming automobile and she finds his pocket watch in a puddle, her circumstances take a turn. She begins to consider what life outside the orphanage could be like. Daniel’s heart has been broken before and the attractive young lady who finds his treasured timepiece wouldn’t be deemed suitable by his social climbing parents.

When Isabel and Daniel work side by side, caring for the orphanage children during an influenza epidemic, she becomes gravely ill. Compelled to redeem the time by helping her find the past, Daniel finds a buried truth that creates an unbridgeable chasm between them. How will they find hope in a hopeless situation?

Anthologies of novellas usually have a common theme. What do the stories in Brave New Century have in common? 
The heroines are each facing the new challenges of changing times. Automobiles are rather new, electric lighting is available, people are communicating by telephone and women are asking for the vote. In the midst of such times, these young women are searching for an identity and how to make their way in the world. Each one of them has been orphaned or abandoned at some point. Unbeknownst to one another, we had written in this similar theme. That had to be orchestrated by the Lord, I’m sure!

That sounds like so much fun! How did you get involved with the project? How does the process of writing a novella as part of an anthology work? 
Lisa Lickel sent out an email to ACFW Midwest, and I believe some other loops, looking for authors who wanted to write romances set in urban areas around the year 1900, to put together an anthology. Since I had looked into Detroit’s history around that time for another story I had been working on, I thought it would be a good fit for me. I still had to do additional research, but I didn’t mind.

The days of the Internet and email make working with authors who are many miles apart much easier than it was in the past. We each had to work on our separate proposals, which were formatted into a single document. Emails were sent back and forth to discuss the possibilities of which publishers to approach and how to go about contacting them. When we approached Prism Book Group, Lisa was the one to query the acquisitions editor. All four of us were kept in the loop during the entire process and each author’s opinion was respected.

Once we had a contract with Prism Book Group, we helped one another through the editing process, so we not only had an editor’s eyes on the manuscript, but three other people to go through each novella.

Attempting to follow the Lord’s leading, prayer with writing, being flexible on decisions about the manuscript can all help authors work together. I have been very thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with Lisa Lickel, Paula Mowery and Teena Stewart. It’s been a great experience. The people make a big difference.

Wow, that’s a great story. What do you love most about history, and what drew you to write historical romance?
There’s just something about period clothing and genteel manners that seem more romantic to me. (Think Jane Austen’s novels or Lucy Maud Montgomery.) It fascinates me to think about how people, just like you and me, lived without modern conveniences, and how their decisions are influenced by their times. They often had more obstacles to overcome than we do, but had full, though often shorter lives.

Exploring those differences and putting characters in a historical setting allows me to escape as I write. I hope it would also give readers a chance to enjoy a slice of life in another time period. There’s so much to learn from the past.

Historical fiction requires so much research. What’s the most interesting (or unusual, or funny) thing you’ve done in the name of research for a book?
Come back tomorrow for Kathleen’s answer to this and other questions – including photos!

Plus, Kathleen will be giving away a copy of Brave New Century to one of our visitors this week! Just answer this question in the comments to be eligible for Friday’s drawing:

What do you feel was the biggest challenge single women faced in 1900?

Be sure to include your email address (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam). Thanks for sharing with us, and we’ll see you again tomorrow!


Cindy Thomson said...

So excited to have Kathy's interview this week! Maybe the corset was women's biggest challenge then??

Kathleen Rouser said...

Hi Cindy! So happy to be here this week! I agree
that corsets had to have been a big challenge.

Susan P said...

Lovely interview. I'm laughing at Cindy's answer. I think that might be the truth right there - the corset!! LOL.
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