Welcome back for our second day with debut author and Novel PASTimes contributor Kathleen Rouser! You can learn more about Kathleen and her writing through:
Kathleen, 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?
A main character in one of my stories is a turn of the century pharmacist. (Thomas Harper makes a cameo appearance in The Pocket Watch.) I was researching the history of medicines and pharmacy, looking for resources on the web and stumbled upon the Soderlund Pharmacy Museum at Soderlund Village Drug in St. Peter, Minnesota. We were planning on visiting family in Minneapolis that summer, so we decided to make a side trip since St. Peter is about an hour away from there. There’s a working soda fountain circa 1911 in the drug store and you can buy a root beer for a penny! I love museums. It was a fun little out-of-the-way place to visit. And I was able to take quite a few pictures of old-fashioned mortars and pestles as well as bottles of potions and real medicine ingredients.
How fun! If you could be any character from another historical novel, who would it be and why?
This is such a hard question to answer. If Jane Austen’s novels count, then it’s a tie between Elizabeth Bennett and Elinor Dashwood. Elinor shows great character in her restraint, her loyalty to and care for her family. I’m not sure if I could have kept the secret of Lucy Steele’s secret engagement to Edward Ferrars for that long. I’m afraid that in my youth, I was much more a Mary Ann.
Elizabeth Bennet is clever and not afraid to speak her mind, but is also virtuous and has a sense of class and decorum, despite the fact that her family isn’t the richest among gentlemen’s families. She learns her lesson of misjudging people, particularly Mr. D’Arcy. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be mistress of Pemberley?
Exactly! When starting a new project, do you tend to begin with a time period or event and create the characters to live it, or do you start with characters and then find their story?
I usually start with characters and then find their story. In fact, even though I was limited to a time period for The Pocket Watch, I chucked my first couple of chapters and started over, because I wasn’t completely happy with the character and setting I had begun to create.
You also write devotional articles for a women’s ministry newsletter. What kind of challenges do you find in writing both fiction and nonfiction? What do you enjoy most about both?
I really enjoy writing devotional articles. When I first volunteered I wasn’t sure how to start, but I would pray. Scripture and real life examples would come to mind as the Lord provided. I love it when someone tells me how she was touched by reading one of my devotionals, because it makes me happy and gives me a greater sense of purpose to think that the Lord would use me in that capacity.
At the same time, it’s so energizing to begin a new story and develop characters, then come up with the events and obstacles, which force them to make choices and change. It’s more challenging than writing an article, because you need to sustain that believable creation of your characters’ world throughout your story and credible growth within their individual journeys. I have learned so much through writing novel length fiction and my novella, The Pocket Watch.
Rewriting is fun too. Once you have the basics of your story down, there’s so much you can add or change to make it better.
What would you like readers to gain from reading your books or articles?
I hope that readers could identify with my characters or that they would feel I identify with them in the examples in my devotional writing. If they take away from either of these that God loves them and wants to transform them through trusting Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, that God is good and has a plan for them despite their circumstances, then I will be grateful.
Any final words?
Thank you for interviewing me, Leigh. I have so happy to be here at Novel PASTimes this week!
And we’re happy to have you! Congratulations again on the release of The Pocket Watch and Brave New Century!
Visitors, Kathleen will be giving away a copy of Brave New Century to one lucky winner 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 stopping by!