Welcome back to our second day with Maureen Lang, author of The Matchmaker's Daughter and other novels! We have lots to cover so will jump right in!
You’ve written books set in the Gilded Age, World War I, the Old West, and modern times. What do you enjoy about writing stories in so many different time frames? Are there things they have in common despite the difference in times?
I’ve always believed a story’s setting is vital, so I try to immerse myself into whatever era I’m writing about. I’ve learned that every era offers something fascinating, and no matter how tranquil any era might appear, a history explorer can find plenty of strife! That’s because we live in a fallen world, ruled by the prince of darkness who takes advantage of our weaknesses.
Just as a little side-track to this discussion, I’ve often wondered if storytellers will still tell stories in heaven, simply because so many forms of conflict are based on sin somewhere along the way. Once we’re no longer struggling with sin, what will our stories be like? Makes me wonder what my earthly training is preparing me for as far as heavenly work!
Wow, that's an interesting thought! If you could be any character from a favorite historical novel for a few days, who would it be and why?
Although I’d likely be terrified because of all the dangers she faces, I’d like to see what it feels like to be Jacky Faber from the Bloody Jack series. She’s gotten herself out of more scrapes that any other character I can think of. (And with her virtue “more or less” intact.)
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?
Actually, I’ve done both. With my World War One stories, world events took precedent. There was plenty of conflict to imagine what kind of character would fit best or experience the most challenge for a good story.
With other stories I filled in the plot around the character. A woman just learning her son has a lifelong disability and that it’s been in her family for generations (The Oak Leaves); a woman whose sister has to rebuild her life after spending time in prison (My Sister Dilly); a woman who made one mistake and decides to dedicate her life to helping other women who’ve fallen into prostitution—a fate God spared her from (All In Good Time).
What is the most interesting (or unusual) thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your projects?
My favorite form of research was going to Belgium and Northern France for researching two of my World War One books—that was an incredible trip!
On a far less dramatic scale, for the book I’m writing right now that’s set in 1903, my heroine is making soft, stuffed toy animals. An online search about the procedure done at the time revealed sawdust as one of the stuffing materials, and that it was boiled before being used. I couldn’t find much more information than that, so I didn’t know if the sawdust was put into boiling water, or placed into water then brought to a boil? It’s a little detail, I know, but I like including things like that. So I did my own experiment. I scooped up a bunch of sawdust from beneath my husband’s workbench—luckily we were doing a home remodeling project at the time—then made two batches of boiled sawdust. I also wanted to know how long it would take to dry. Other than getting an odd look from my youngest son who came into the kitchen looking for something to eat just then, the experiment went well.
It reminded me of another experiment I did years ago. One of my characters needed to make some sort of ink, but this was the Viking age and he was surrounded by people who depended on oral traditions rather than writing anything down. He had to make his own ink from oil and ashes—so I took a little vegetable oil, mixed it with regular old ash from our fireplace then dipped a sharp stick into it and started writing away. It worked!
Can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
As I mentioned above, my current heroine is a toymaker. Raina thinks of her little lambs as a mission tool to remind children (and their parents) that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Little does she realize she has a hidden ambitious streak inside, something a suitor or two suspected which resulted in the withdrawal of any interest in courting her. So her parents let her visit her aunt, who lives in a town called Cranbury—the same little town that is the setting for a previous book, The Cranbury Papermaker which released last spring. In Cranbury, Raina meets a man far too young to be the town curmudgeon, but that’s what he calls himself since he can’t seem to get over his broken heart after losing first his wife then a few years later his daughter. Loving anyone is too risky, so he’s gotten used to keeping everyone at bay. But with his nearly forgotten history of toymaking, Raina isn’t afraid of enlisting Cade’s reluctant help to improve her craft.
Sounds like another great story! Any final words?
Thanks very much for having me. It’s always fun to hang out with book lovers!
As I mentioned in my bio, I’m the caregiver for my adult son. People often ask me what Fragile X is, and for information on that, please visit https://fragilex.org/
Visitors, if you’d like to learn more about Maureen and her books, here’s where you can connect online:
- Website: www.maureenlang.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maureen-Lang/77586161029
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authormlang/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/420047.Maureen_Lang
And … don’t forget to enter our drawing for two great prizes that Maureen is sharing! She’s giving away a copy of The Matchmaker’s Match (Kindle for an international winner or paper copy for a U.S. winner) PLUS a trade size paperback copy of the 12 Brides of Christmas for a second U.S. winner. It’s signed by all 12 authors on a bookplate placed inside the cover.
To enter the drawing, click on the Rafflecopter entry here or answer one of these questions from Maureen in the comments section. Be sure to include your email address, spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam.
Have you ever been a matchmaker? Have you set up a blind date, or introduced two people you thought might hit it off?
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?
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