By Ashley Kath-Bilsky
Well, rather than talk about historical reenactments, I thought it would be interesting to talk with someone who actually did this, and how it inspired her as an author. So, I am delighted to welcome my special guest, SUSAN MACATEE, to Sweethearts of the West. Susan is an multi-published author of historical romance, and someone who spent years as a Civil War civilian reenactor with the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment. Quite understandably, her personal involvement with historical reenactment inspired Susan to write American Civil War romance, some with a paranormal twist. From time travels to vampire tales, her stories are always full of love and adventure. In addition to being a busy author, Susan is also a wife, mother of three grown sons, and has recently become a grandmother. She spends her free time inhaling books, watching baseball games and favorite old movies.
So, please join me in welcoming Susan and enjoy our discussion about how she became a writer of historical fiction, and all sorts of insightful information – including what television show inspired her to be a writer.
AKB: Welcome to Sweethearts of the West, Susan.
SM: Thanks so much for having me, Ashley!
AKB: It’s always interesting to learn when or how a person discovered the moment they wanted to become a writer. When was that moment for you?
SM: That would have been way back when I was in grade school. I got hooked on an after school soap called ‘Dark Shadows’. I loved it so much, I’d rush home from school to watch. Eventually, I started writing my own stories using those characters. By high school, I enrolled in a Journalism/Creative Writing course, and decided I liked creative writing because I could live vicariously through the characters.
AKB: Oooh, ‘Dark Shadows’. I will never forget the day the ghost of Sarah showed little David the secret room in the family mausoleum. Loved it, and how great the show inspired you to write.
AKB: What made you decide on the Victorian era and American Civil War period for your writing?
SM: I got interested in the Civil War after watching the Ken Burns programs. After that, our family vacations included a lot of Civil War sites and we joined a Civil War reenacting group.
AKB: I find it fascinating how you became involved with Civil War research. What impact did your participation have on your understanding of the period and your writing?
AKB: Your Civil War novel Cassidy’s War was a finalist in the Historical category of the 2013 Award of Excellence Contest by the Colorado Romance Writers and also the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Please tell us more about this title.
SM: Cassidy’s War was a spin-off of a young adult historical I’d had published in 2002 titled ‘Under the Guns’. It didn’t do very well in sales and is now out of print, but I loved the characters so much, I wanted to do a new story about their lives after the war. Cassidy’s War is a reunion story between the two love interests in ‘Under the Guns’ now that they’re older and hopefully, a bit wiser. Here's the blurb:
Cassidy Stuart longs to attend medical school. Training beside her physician father and serving as a nurse during the war, have only increased her desire to be a doctor with her own practice. When the man who’d left her at the altar returns, she’s determined not to let him upset the plans she’s set for herself.
Until his mission is accomplished, George Masters must hide his identity as a Pinkerton agent as he investigates a physician living in George’s former hometown, a short distance from Cassidy’s home. When he finds Cassidy hasn’t married, he hopes he can rekindle their love while trying to protect her and townsfolk from the evil Dr. Madison.
Can their love be renewed despite the villain’s desire for revenge against them both?
AKB: Sounds wonderful, and you know how much I love Pinkerton heroes. Can’t wait to read it.
AKB: Tell us about your writing process? Day or night owl writer? Any rituals you follow, like a music playlist, lighting a scented candle, perhaps a secret drawer filled with M&Ms?
SM: Afternoon is my time for writing after all the morning chores are out of the way. I don’t have any rituals to get me in the mood, all I have to do is open whatever file I’m working on to get me back into my writing frame of mind. My desk sits in the corner of my dining room by the window, so I’ve learned to work without getting distracted.
AKB: Both readers and writers get attached to characters. Do you have a favorite hero or heroine, and why?
SM: I love them all. But I’d have to say Will Montgomery, the Confederate infantry captain in my Civil War time travel romance, 'Erin’s Rebel', is my favorite hero. I think it’s because while learning the writing craft, that story had been forming in my head for years. And Erin Branigan, the time traveling heroine, was partially formed from my own reactions as a Civil War reenactor. It was so easy to imagine how I would feel if thrust back in time to the Civil War and meeting a hunky Southern officer.
AKB: If you had to describe your writing style in 3-5 words, what would they be?
SM: Adventure, fun and romance.
AKB: I am super excited about your latest American Victorian release. Please tell us about The Physician’s Irish Lady.
SM: The Physician’s Irish Lady is an off-shoot from my award winning Civil War romance, 'Confederate Rose'. This new story was actually formed by a fan asking if my next story would be about the doctor in the story. Having not read 'Confederate Rose' for a long time, myself, I was scratching my head wondering who she was talking about, but remembered a minor character, a Union army surgeon and friend of the hero. I decided I just had to tell the story of Dr. Elliot James after he’d returned from the war and settled in his small Pennsylvania town. Here's the blurb:
As Dr. Elliot James travels by train from Philadelphia to York, a young woman faints at his feet. He’s sworn, as a physician, to aid the sick and injured, but fears this woman requires more than medical help. Enchanted by her beauty and touched by her dignity, despite appearing to be alone in the world, he buys her a meal and offers to find her a place to stay in his small Pennsylvania town.
A mysterious Irishman pursues her to the idyllic town surrounded by farmland. Is he an abusive husband come to claim his runaway wife, or someone more sinister?
The Physician’s Irish Lady is now available exclusively on Amazon KDP Select, and will have its Worldwide release on January 22, 2014.
AKB: I love the Victorian time period and understand you also have a recent Victorian Time Travel Romance. Can you share an excerpt or tell us a little bit about Thoroughly Modern Amanda.
Thoroughly Modern Amanda is an offshoot of my first time travel romance, 'Erin's Rebel', which was set during the American Civil War. This new story, released last Christmas, is about the young daughter, Amanda Montgomery, of the hero in the original story. Amanda is an adult in this new post war novella, coming to her own as she strives for opportunities as a Victorian woman in America. The hero in this story is from our time and has traveled to the past while visiting an old Victorian house, set for demolition. Here's the blurb:
Construction worker Jack Lawton wants to preserve an old home that's scheduled for demolition. But when he sneaks inside for a final look, a loose beam falls on the head, and upon waking, he finds himself in the arms of a beautiful woman. His only problem--he's no longer in the twenty-first century. Can he find his way back home? Does he really want to?
AKB: You certainly have a prolific imagination, Susan. What is your favorite (or least favorite) thing about being a writer?
SM: My very favorite thing is to live so many exciting lives through my characters. I always had a vivid imagination, even as a child, and writing feels so much like play to me.
AKB: Oh, I agree. It is very much like playing “let’s pretend…” as a child.
AKB: Okay, the main part of our interview is over, but before we part, I’d like to close with a variation of the famous Bernard Pivot questions that host James Lipton asks his guests on Inside Actors Studio. Here we go.
AKB: What is your favorite word?
AKB: What is your least favorite word?
SM: Hashtag. I think it’s those annoying car commercials.
AKB: What motivates you creatively speaking?
SM: The characters and stories spinning around in my head.
AKB: What sound or noise do you love?
SM: Right now, it’s the sound of my 22 month old granddaughter’s sweet voice. Perks me right up every time Arabella comes to visit.
AKB: Aww, Arabella is a beautiful name.
AKB: What sound or noise do you hate?
AKB: What profession other than writer would you like to do?
SM: While in college, the required psychology courses fascinated me and, even now I used what I’ve learned to help me to develop believable characters, so I might have pursued a career in psychology if I hadn’t been distracted by the writing bug.
AKB: What profession would you NEVER want to do?
SM: I have a great deal of respect for teachers, but I could never imagine facing a classroom, especially filled with children and adolescents.
AKB: Now, for my favorite question. If you could have a dream dinner with four of your favorite famous people from the present, past, or any time period, who would they be?
SM: Mary Todd Lincoln, Clara Barton, Dean Koontz and Hilary Clinton.
AKB: That’s an interesting lineup, and one can only imagine the enlightening dinner conversation. Thanks again for visiting Sweethearts of the West, Susan, and best wishes for continued success with your writing.
And to everyone who stopped by today, thank you, too. ~ AKB
For more information about Susan Macatee and her writing, please visit her website at: www.susanmacatee.com where you will find excerpts and buy links. She also has a great blog at http://susanmacatee.wordpress.com.
Buy links for the titles mentioned in this post are:
Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble
All Romance E-Books
THE PHYSICIAN’S IRISH LADY
Available at Amazon Kindle Direct Select beginning September 25, 2013. Worldwide distribution begins in January 2014. For buy links, visit www.susanmacatee.com
THOROUGHLY MODERN AMANDA
The Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks