Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA).
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?
Thanks for having me! One of the surprises has been how each publisher handles things a little differently. I’ve had the good fortune of having four books published over the past year with three different publishing groups, and the revisions, galleys, covers, etc. are all handled just a little differently. I suppose it has helped me to become a more well-rounded author!
Please tell us something about your latest novel, Irish Meadows.
My story is about the O’Leary family, set in 1911 Long Island, New York. Patriarch James O’Leary is the owner of Irish Meadows, a farm that trains and breeds racehorses. He is worried about his business now that horse racing has been banned in their state. James is determined that his two oldest daughters will marry well in order to secure their financial futures, as well as their position in society. Both girls, however, have other dreams for their lives and proceed to greatly complicate their father’s life!
What drew you to set Irish Meadows in 1911 on Long Island?
I liked the time period because certain modern conveniences, such as automobiles and telephones, were becoming more common, and women were starting to have more independence. Also I had started watching Downton Abbey and liked that era—the clothes, the manners, and the mansions. I chose New York because that’s where a lot of Irish immigrants settled, including my own ancestors. Long Island’s Gold Coast is where a lot of wealthy families built country estates and seemed like a good choice for the O’Leary’s mansion and horse farm.
Have you found that similar themes throughout your writing? Why? Or why not?
I have found several similar themes in my writing. Without consciously realizing it, the theme of worthiness kept creeping into my stories. I found great delight in having my characters come to understand that they are infinitely precious in God’s eyes and worthy of His great love. Themes of redemption and forgiveness also come up quite often. My characters struggle with guilt over some past mistake or some perceived shortcoming and their journey includes asking for and receiving forgiveness, being released from their great internal burden, and finding joy in life again.
What drew you to writing historical novels?
That’s a funny question! Although I always loved reading historical romances, I swore I would never write one. Way too much research involved. But then something totally unrelated to my writing happened. I started researching my family history on-line. I literally became addicted to the thrill of uncovering family mysteries and expanding our family tree. One love story intrigued me. My great-great grandfather was a stable boy at a grand manor called Stainsby Hall. I discovered that the girl he married was a kitchen maid at the same estate. My vivid imagination took off and I wrote my first historical romance based on their history! The moral of the story is ‘never say never’!
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 loved A Passion Most Pure, Julie Lessman’s debut novel, and I went on to read all of her books. I also adored Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor, a story with an Irish hero and horses, so no wonder I liked it! The third one would be Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz. Laura’s writing is like reading poetry—so lovely and lyrical.
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
Come back tomorrow to learn more about Susan and her writing. Enter the give away
for her latest novel, Irish Meadows, through Rafflecopter below and answer Susan's question below to qualify.
Do you think a parent has the right to dictate the path of their children’s lives?