This week we’re glad to welcome author Maureen Lang back to PASTImes! Maureen writes stories that celebrate a mix of faith, history and romance. She is the author of 15 novels and 3 novellas. Several titles have been recognized through various awards including finaling for a Christy, Carol and Rita. She lives in the Midwest, is a married mother of three, and caregiver for her adult son with Fragile X Syndrome.
Welcome, Maureen, and congratulations on your latest novel, The Matchmaker’s Match! We’d love to hear about the story.
Mara Madison has been traveling the world independently—something few women of 1895 were bold enough to do. But when she discovers the faith her family held so dear, she decides to go home to make amends for her estrangement and past mistakes.
She soon realizes she isn’t the only one in her family who thinks of herself as a matchmaker. Her sister immediately recognizes Mara as perfect for her husband’s business partner—a man Mara could find interesting except for two obstacles: she believes God expects her complete devotion to make up for her past rebelliousness, and she also guesses the governess to her sister’s children is already in love with the man. Mara has no intention of getting in the way of that.
When Mara’s mother arrives with Mara’s first love in tow, Mara begins to doubt her understanding of God’s plan for her to remain alone the rest of her life. But which man will she choose?
Now please introduce us to your main characters. What’s your favorite thing about each of them?
Mara is one of my favorite heroines. She’s a new Christian, and eager to do God’s will instead of her own—if only she could figure out what He thinks is best for her!
Benjamin Esherwood has remained unmarried because of the poor example his parents modeled for him. Why get married if it only leads to strife? Far better to devote oneself to strengthening society by offering jobs and products to an expanding country. He only wishes he could avoid all of the women forever being pushed his way—but unfortunately his goal to avoid marriage hasn’t cooled his interest when it comes to Mara Madison. However, when she keeps putting him together with a governess he knows he’ll never understand women, which is probably why his own parent’s marriage wasn’t successful.
What did you enjoy most about writing Mara’s story? What were the challenges?
I thoroughly enjoyed Mara’s faith journey. She’s so eager to please God because of her newfound love for Him that she’s forgotten she doesn’t have to work to earn that love—it’s a gift, right along with salvation.
As far as challenges, there are a lot of layers to this story: the spiritual level, faith issues in faith vs. work and selfishness vs. generosity. On a more structural basis, I had to coordinate the matchmaking efforts of three different women. Then there are social issues in the backstory about workers demanding an eight-hour day. Finally, there is the purely emotional layer: how will Mara resolve her turmoil when her first love shows up—to paint both men as worthy, but only one who wins her love. I enjoy a story with some teeth in it but this one took a bit of juggling.
I love how you share the “story behind the story” for all your books. Will you tell us more about that for The Matchmaker’s Match?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, which I didn’t talk about in either my Author’s Note or on my website, at least not yet. This story was first inspired when I wrote Bees In The Butterfly Garden (Tyndale, 2012). There is a young, mischievous character in that story by the name of Evie. She’s a real stinker! I kept thinking: this girl needs to grow up and get redeemed. And so the nugget started. Now that I’m writing independently, I didn’t want to tie myself to the cast of characters already set in stone in Bees In The Butterfly Garden, so I gave “Evie” a totally new story—Mara is a new character, but definitely inspired by Evie.
I’ll let you in on another secret: Tyndale is putting Bees In The Butterfly Garden on sale in January 2016! The ebook version will be only 99 cents.
Oooh, we love secrets, especially like those! Thanks for letting us in on the scoop. You’re also part of the anthology, The 12 Brides of Christmas. Tell us about your story in that.
I was so blessed to be part of the 12 Brides group of authors! My story is called The Gift Wrapped Bride, and is set in 1848 Chicago. It’s about a young girl who reluctantly follows her family to the rough-and-tumble new city, where her brother and his best friend have promised their father robust working conditions. They arrive with a group of other settlers who also hope to start a new church and help tame Chicago’s wild reputation.
Sophie hasn’t forgotten her brother’s best friend—Noah used to be the world’s worst bully, and she has every intention of avoiding him. But Chicago also needs brides, and Noah is eager to prove to Sophie that not only has he changed—he’d make the best husband for her.
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?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Maureen’s answer to this and other questions – including what historical fiction character she’d love to be for a few days.
In the meantime, be sure 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?
We’ll see you again tomorrow!