Meet Lizbeth from Paullett Golden’s The Earl and the Enchantress

Thank you for doing this.  Because you lost your mother at a very young age and your father raised you to be self-sufficient you expect to be respected within any relationship. Valuing independence, there is the expectation of being treated as an equal. It appears you have basically given up on marriage. Then you met Sebastian Lancaster, the Earl of Roddam who has a lot in common with you.  Both of you are witty intellectuals who value a good conversation along with the passion. Even though the 1790s has strict courtship rules you and Sebastian seem to formulate your own guidelines.  I am intrigued by your headstrong personality and philosophies. 

Elise Cooper: How did you become such an independent woman?

Lizbeth Trethow:Am I? I wouldn’t consider myself independent, but I appreciate the sentiment and that you would view me as such a woman. Independence, to my understanding of your meaning, is a state of mind. I’ve freed myself from the chains of ignorance and the expectations of Society. While I don’t wish to be speak ill of my sex, I will say too many women readily accept their dependence. They depend on the views of others, the gossip mill, the supposed truths in the news columns, the mandates of family, the rules of tradition and propriety, and, oh, the list does go on. Whereas, I depend on no one but myself. I’ve made the choice to educate my mind, which has thus liberated my soul. I’m not so conceited as to call myself enlightened, but I do feel independence comes from being enlightened, and that is the very state of mind in which I would like to be. 

EC: People describe you as intelligent, poised, a teaser, opinionated, candid, headstrong, and a competitor.  Fair?

LT:Oh my! *laughs* Is that what they say? People do talk, don’t they? I’m not certain we can be so classified into neat and tidy little descriptors. I might consider myself an intelligent woman, but by whose standards? If I should be compared to Socrates, would I still be considered intelligent? I know nothing of farming, and yet the farmer works such miracles with his bare hands. Would he not be considered intelligent, and I ignorant in comparison? I am flattered by your depiction of me, but I’m not sure I would see myself in those same terms. 

EC: So, how would you describe yourself?

LT:I’m determined and decisive, but does that also imply I’m headstrong? I don’t care to be proven wrong. But, when I know I am right, does that imply I’m opinionated and competitive? I wonder, could someone be both candid and a tease? If this is how you see me, then I can’t argue with or alter your view because it’s your perception of me, and thus by your own standards, it’s true. I may see someone as crass while someone else sees the person as candid. Neither of us is wrong. We merely have different perceptions of the same person. I do thank you for thinking of me enough to form an opinion, and I am truly flattered. 

EC: What are your favourite books and why?

LT:Choosing a favourite book is not unlike choosing a favourite child. They’re each so different but equally loved. I do enjoy social commentary with a creative flair. A book that pulls me in with a clever story while also reflecting on the world at large is what I would prefer to read over something strictly academic or purely fictionalized for the sake of entertainment. For example, Gulliver’s Travelsperfectly marries both academic observation and speculation with entertainment. Swift is a keen observer and sceptic. I certainly don’t agree with all his observations, but he does make me think while tickling my humour. Have you heard of Blake? His poems embody that very marriage I mentioned. His words are akin to music, yet he verses about harsh realities. I do hope he gains notoriety soon for people need to hear what he has to say. As a final note, should you have the time and wish to understand me, you should, perhaps, consider reading Condorcet. I’ll nudge you in his direction and allow you to make your own judgments. 

EC:  Thanks, when I get the time I will look into it.  Let’s go off in another direction. Do you think it is wishful thinking to want a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration?  

LT:Some may believe it is highly improbable, not to mention unrealistic, but I’ll settle for nothing less. I’ve seen how a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration can be, and should others see that, as well, they would change their perspective. It is difficult for people to understand what they’ve not experienced. So many children are raised by wet nurses, nannies, and then governesses, seeing their sires on the rare occasion. They grow up knowing nothing but hierarchy and isolation. Why should they, then, expect or even want love, respect, and admiration? 

EC:  It sounds like you have someone in mind?

LT:My parents were outliers in this world. They married for love, they respected each other as equals, and they admired each other’s individuality. I’ve seen how harmonious this is. I’ve also seen how such love can destroy, for the loss of my mother nearly destroyed my father. Does that suggest he shouldn’t have loved so deeply? If he had married for duty alone, someone of his own class rather than a tin mine owner’s daughter, he wouldn’t have suffered such depths of despair at my mother’s death, but would he be better for it? I believe the time they had together was worth every minute, and that is a love worth living for, despite the consequences. I don’t think it realistic we all find our soul’s counterpart, so we must be prepared to hold strong and not settle or sacrifice our self-worth in the absence of that counterpart.  

EC:  So, you are willing to be a spinster?

LT:The word has such negative connotations. One looks at a spinster like an old shoe with a broken heel. I prefer to think of myself as a free agent. I answer to no one. How freeing is that? There is nothing wrong or damning about being free. Is it the unmarried who consider themselves spinsters or those who are married? Yes, you have it, the ones who are already married look to the unmarried and point a finger—you there, you’re an aging spinster. They take the position of superiority as though having a spouse lifts them to some grand throne. Does it? What have they gained? They are, more of them than not, unhappy. Perhaps they point to the unmarried with disparaging remarks because they are envious of the freedom but don’t want anyone to catch on. I’m proud to be a free agent! This is not a position of shame. 

EC:  You were overheard saying that you will never be married if it means you will be controlled by a husband?

LT:I did say that, yes, though you’re naughty for eavesdropping. There is no denying women are the property of their husbands. It is the written law, after all. A husband who now has control over her person, her mind, and all legal rights. Should he wish to punish her with his hand, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to lock her in a room and starve her of food, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to starve her of affection, he may do so, by law. How is this not control? Women are no different than slaves. They are purchased for the purpose of breeding. I generalize, for not all marriages are such as this, but the tone of the marriage is determined by the husband. Suppose he loves the wife at the beginning but then bores of her? He also controls the tone of the relationship. Marriage is nothing more than a binding contract unless there is passion, respect, love, and equality. 

EC: How would you describe Sebastian? Do you know him better than himself?

LT:I wouldn’t flatter myself to know him better than he knows himself, but often it takes someone else looking in to see the larger context. We can’t always see our own faults or our strengths so well as someone else can see them. Sebastian struggles with understanding himself. He’s been told for so long that he’s unlovable and monstrous that he’s accepted that identity. It is no different than a girl being told her entire life that she’s too plain. Why should she ever suspect herself to be anything but plain, much less beautiful? I see Sebastian as a compassionate, driven, and clever man. There is no problem he can’t solve. There is no trench he can’t dig. If he sets his mind to it, nothing will stop him. He has a fathoms deep capacity for love. If only he could love himself. 

EC: Do you think Sebastian is overly influenced by King Arthur?

LT:Nonsense. Sebastian has a great many interests and influencing figures. He studies legends, myths, and histories to gain a sense of how to become a better person. His interest in Greek and Roman mythology is nearly as strong in his interest of England’s former kings. Most young boys have an older brother they can idolize or a father they can learn from, but Sebastian had neither. He saw King Arthur not only as a father-figure, but also as a person to emulate. When he needed direction in life, he turned to someone he could respect, and who better than a king? Let us be happy he chose King Arthur instead of Gaius Caligula. 

EC: What do you see as the important qualities in a relationship?

LT:The important qualities would vary from person to person. My sister, for instance, wouldn’t value the same qualities as I would. She would never suit with an intellectual, much less a recluse. I, however, neither enjoy the company of Society nor the company of a dull wit. I value those from whom I can learn. It would never be any fun if we agreed with each other all the time, but it would be arduous if we were too contentious. I want to learn from someone as much as I’d hope they could learn from me. If we both bring something to the relationship, we meet as equals. The qualities important to me for any kind of relationship, be it friendship or beyond, are communication, respect, conversation, intellect, and equality. 

EC:  Are you looking for a kindred spirit?

LT:I wouldn’t admit to looking for anyone, but I would expect, for there to be a successful and happy marriage with someone, the person would need to understand me on a far deeper level than anyone else could. This understanding is more than recognizing what my interests are. It’s the realization of why those interests are important to me. Should the person intuitively know what I would like or dislike, enjoy or not enjoy, value or not value, that is a true and deep understanding, and that is the only relationship that would work for me. Nothing surface level will work. 

EC: Do you think you are alike or different from your younger sister Charlotte?

LT:Oh, vastly different! It is a wonder we’re related at all when one examines our personalities. Charlotte is orderly, while I’m quite messy. Charlotte enjoys socials and tea parties, while I enjoy solitude and reading. Charlotte would prefer to dance, while I would rather run. Charlotte cares far too much about Society’s opinion and wants to be seen as the perfect lady, while I couldn’t give a fig for what anyone thinks of me. That isn’t to say we don’t have common traits, as well, and we do share a sisterly affection stronger than I believe most do, but we’ve never shared opinions or interests. She is far too much like our aunt, and I am far too much like our mother. We would, as sisters should, do anything for each other. I would lay down my life for her, as she would do for me, for we share a familial bond nothing can sever. That doesn’t stop us from bickering daily as we’re wont to do!

EC: How did the death of your mother affect you?

LT:To be honest, it took years to sink it. I felt the loss at once, but I had no time in which to examine it. She was my best friend. Yet, before I could understand the impact, my family fell apart. Papa couldn’t handle the loss, and my sister hadn’t a mother. I knew if I didn’t swallow my heartbreak and do something, I would lose more than my mother. I look back and think how silly it was for me to think I had any impact at all, for I was only a little girl, but at the time, I didn’t feel so little, no one treated me as though I were little, and I shouldered weights far heftier than a little girl could or should carry. I was a little woman in the body of a young girl, and I was so focused on caring for my family I had no time in which to mourn. By the time I could mourn, it was as though looking back from the eyes of a different person. I believe it was for the best. However much I didn’t understand the concept of death at that age, I do know if I’d stopped to think for too long how hurt I was not to see Mama ever again, I might have been as lost as Papa. She was a vibrant woman whose smile lit an entire room. How does a child cope with that loss? I didn’t. I pushed it down until I could look on it objectively. 

EC: Were you attracted to Sebastian because you have that in common with him?

LT:I hadn’t thought of that. Hmm. I wouldn’t say his losing his mother was something that made him attractive. Our commonalities are numerous, and it is something we share, but I believe it only helps us to understand each other. It is the understanding of each other that is attractive, not necessarily the cause of the understanding. When I heard of his loss, I will say I wanted to wrap my arms around him and hold him, not as a lover or a friend, but as a mother. I wanted to rest his head on my shoulder and hold him so he would know he was protected and loved, just as my mother did for me. My heart went out to the little boy inside of him who had lost his only friend. For me, I lost my best friend, but not my only friend. He lost his only friend.

EC: Do you think Sebastian is able to understand the importance of family and how to love?

LT:I believe he knows what he wants and has always wanted, but I do think he’s afraid he won’t know how. He admitted as much to me. He’s afraid he’ll become his father. There’s no shame in such fear, but as he becomes more himself, he’ll let it go. He only holds onto such a fear because he’s still learning who he is outside of what others have told him. As I mentioned earlier in this conversation, he has such a deep capacity for love and is so compassionate, I know in my heart he will be the best father and husband a woman could ever ask for, but I don’t think he yet knows that about himself. He will. Give him time. 

EC: Do the best relationships start out as friendships?

LT:I believe I loved Sebastian before I saw him as a friend, but who can say which emotion came first. I respected him, and that was the basis on which we built a future. If you cannot befriend a spouse, before or after seeing them as a partner, then what remains when passion fades or times are rough? Not all friendships should be relationships, but all relationships should be friendships. At least from my estimation. If you cannot respect them as a friend, how can you possibly love them? 

EC: Can a man and a woman ever be just friends?

LT:They are more likely to be friends than anything else. Passion and love are rare. Passion, especially, is so often fleeting, and love must be there to sustain when passion runs its course. I’ve seen many friendships, but I’ve only rarely seen passion. Friendship does not guarantee a good match, nor does it guarantee love or passion, but it should be the foundation of the relationship. It may, in most cases, simply be friendship. I have many close friends, some of which are male, and none of which I’ve felt remotely attracted to beyond friendship. Take my cousin Walter as an example. We are good friends, and I enjoy time with him and conversation. I would go to great lengths to help him if he needed me, but I’ve never harboured romantic feelings for him. I do love him, but as family, nothing more. 

EC: Why do you love the sea so much?

LT:There’s a raw power to the sea that is underestimated, as well as a magic that is misunderstood. I remember one time when I was little, standing at the edge of the water with Mama, thinking how big the world was and how small I was. My personal world consisted only of a few miles, yet when I stood at the water’s edge, I could see on to forever nothing but blue water. It was humbling but awe-inspiring. The ocean seemed to me the largest and most powerful element on earth. It had the power to wreck ships, carry pirates, and drown swimmers, but it harvests life and beauty. When I let the water lap over my feet that day, I felt connected. Where had those same droplets been that were now touching my feet? Where would they go next, carrying the essence of me? 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LT:Oh, there are a great many diversions I enjoy! Learning and reading, of course, so that I might live vicariously through the minds of scientists, adventurers, and philosophers. I love the outdoors, the warmth of the sun, the whisper of the wind, the smell of nature. Wilderness walks are a favourite pastime of mine, especially walks that turn into explorations. I would never turn down a swim, be it in a pond or ocean. I may not like a crowd or socializing, but I do enjoy good company, so calling on friends is always pleasant. Sebastian has promised to teach me about the stars and how to use his telescope, so in time, perhaps that will be a new interest of mine. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LT:I share Sebastian’s desire for a large family. I want to be the kind of mother I remember my own Mama being. I envision sharing with Sebastian his dreams, as well, for he has such grand plans for his lands, and I want to do what I can to help. I do hope to become good friends with his sister Lilith, and if I have my druthers, she’ll move in with us before long. Befriending the tenantry and laborers is important to me, and I hope to strengthen the connections for all his properties by creating a familial relationship with everyone in our care. I don’t like to be idle and always want a sense of purpose, a sense of utility and usefulness. I want always to be helping someone or achieving something. I do believe the land will keep us busy as we rebuild and build out, creating more homes, larger towns, more positions.

EC: If you have a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

LT:Oh, what a blasphemous question! Crystal balls indeed. I do believe I like how you think, Elise. May I call you Elise? How presumptuous of me. I feel we’ve become such good friends during this conversation. If given the opportunity to look into a crystal ball, I would look away, for I want the adventure and the surprise! It’s no fun knowing what will happen. And should I make plans, would I then be disappointed if they didn’t come true? I will be happy with whatever life brings me. I would imagine, given my current direction, that in five years, we will have expanded the towns of all his properties, have at least three children, be rich as Croesus, and be as happy as larks. I won’t be disappointed if we’re poor as paupers and childless, as long as we’re together, but wouldn’t it be lovely to think the best? 

THANK YOU!!

Paullett Golden is a lover of the fairy tale historical romance and has launched herself into a writing career. She’s been writing historical romances since an early age and has been a professor of writing for two decades. She divides her time between Texas and Northumberland, England.

All About Lark MacDougall from Laura Frantz’s A Bound Heart

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Name: Lark MacDougall

Parents: Deceased

Siblings: None

Places lived: Isle of Kerrera, Scotland & Colonial Virginia

Jobs: Stillroom mistress and beekeeper

Friends: Magnus MacLeish, childhood friend and laird of Kerrera Castle

Enemies: Though I hate to say it, I’m not fond of the laird’s wife, Lady Isla, or her maid

Dating, marriage: I seem to be doing things a wee bit tapsalteerie as we Scots say, with a baby first, then a courtship…

Children: An adopted son, Larkin. “She took the infant, going wide-eyed at his weight. A ruadh-headed handful he was. He gave a chortle of delight, and the knot of women looked relieved, spared of his fretfulness. His dimpled hand brushed Lark’s flushed cheek, his bright eyes on her face.”

What person do you most admire? The laird of Kerrera Castle

Overall outlook on life: Life is hard, but God is faithful

Do you like yourself? Somedays

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would see justice served

How are you viewed by others? Capable

Physical appearance: Tall and spare

Eyes: Blue

Hair: the hue of a maple leaf in autumn

Voice: A bit low for a woman

Right- or left-handed? Right

How would you describe yourself? Full of flaws but trying to be better

Characteristics: Fortitude, Kindness, Compassion

Strongest/weakest character traits: Endurance/nostalgia

How much self-control do you have? Enough to not run after the laird 😉

Fears: Leaving my beloved island

Collections, talents: Mistress of the bees and stillroom

What people like best about you: My compassion

Interests and favorites: A hankering for books and a bit o’ jewelry

Food, drink: My granny’s bannocks and a cup o’ tea

Books: The Bible and Watt’s Hymnal

Best way to spend a weekend: Baking scones and drinking tea

What would a great gift for you be? Seeing someone else made happy

When are you happy? When I’m with the folks I love

What makes you angry? Injustice

What makes you sad? Slavery, poverty, disease

What makes you laugh? Wee ones

Hopes and dreams: Returning to Kerrera Castle

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I snitched a sweet from the castle kitchen

Greatest success: Marrying my love

Biggest trauma: Being condemned of a crime

What do you care about most in the world? Faith

Do you have a secret? Nay

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? I adore the laird and Larkin

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Lady Isla and her maid are/were a thorn to me

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: Overturn the corrupt court system and see justice reign

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Being on trial after being in gaol (jail)

Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Lark!

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of severalFrantz_Laura books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, and The Lacemaker. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

Meet Elizabeth from We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Today we welcome Elizabeth Balsam who answered a few questions for curious readers!

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Parents: Bruce and Marjorie

Siblings: Grace

Places lived: Detroit, Michigan

Jobs: Journalist at the Detroit Free Press

Friends: Desiree? She’s the closest thing I have to a friend at the moment, busy as I am with work.

Enemies: Anyone who gets in the way of me getting the story. Often, that takes the form of one Roger Bristol, my own personal nemesis at the Free Presswho is always trying to undermine me and steal my stories.

Dating, marriage: I’m far too busy for such things.

Children: none

What person do you most admire? Nellie Bly, the great investigative journalist of the late 19thcentury, who went undercover as an inmate at an insane asylum for an exposé for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She also circumnavigated the globe in 72 days to be the first person, man or woman, to turn the fiction of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Daysinto fact.

Overall outlook on life: My time as a journalist has me believing that we’re all just trying to survive as best we can in a corrupt and chaotic world.

Do you like yourself? I guess I like myself as well as anyone. But because I am always pushing toward the next goal, I can’t help but feel like I’m always falling a little short of my expectations of myself.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind being able to step back and take a breather once in a while, but if I did, who would pick up the slack?

How are you viewed by others? Driven, focused, go-getter.

Physical appearance: I’m a professional and I’m serious about being taken seriously. And that means slacks, blouses, and sensible shoes.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Brown

Voice: Gets the job done.

Right- or left-handed? Right-handed.

How would you describe yourself? I’m a public servant. I’m passionate about my work and I feel that every article I turn in has the potential to improve the lives of my fellow Detroiters because I am exposing corruption, neglect, and injustice.

Strongest/weakest character traits: My greatest strength is my dogged determination to get the story. My greatest weakness is that I actively avoid creating personal connections with people, leaving me too often alone and lonely.

How much self-control do you have? My family prides itself on having mastery over our emotions, so the few times I haven’t succeeded in that are a source of embarrassment to me.

Fears: My greatest fear is being inconsequential.

Collections, talents: The only thing I collect is bylines. My talent is writing about the truth I’ve dug up.

What people like best about you: I think my readers appreciate the fact that I don’t hold back and that no one is off-limits when it comes to exposing injustice or corruption.

Interests and favorites: I’m always in the mood to watch All the President’s Men, The Post, or Spotlight.

Food, drink: Detroit style coney dogs, please and thank you

Books: I read a lot of nonfiction, looking for historical facts and connections to what’s going on in today’s world. Anything to build my knowledge base.

Best way to spend a weekend: In the library, digging up evidence.

What would a great gift for you be? A new laptop because I beat mine up so badly schlepping it around town.

When are you happy? Every time I see my name on the front page.

What makes you angry? When I interview people that have been taken advantage of or failed by the system.

What makes you sad? The fact that I can’t do more to help the people in my city.

What makes you laugh? Seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them, which unfortunately seems to happen more in movies than in real life.

Hopes and dreams: Someday, I want to win a Pulitzer for my investigative journalism.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?

Greatest success: Raising enough awareness and outrage through my writing that Detroiters were able to pressure city officials to take action on 11,000 untested rape kits, leading to the identification and arrests of hundreds of serial rapists in Detroit.

Biggest trauma: My parents leaving Detroit to go back to the mission field in Brazil. Oh, and getting fired from my job…

What does you care about most in the world? Justice being done.

Do you have a secret? Outwardly I put on a good show of being self-sufficient, but inside I am starved for family and love.

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: Right now, all of my energy is focused on getting the goods on Judge Ryan Sharpe’s time in the National Guard during the Detroit Riots of 1967. If I can prove his involvement in a particular shootout, I’ll be able to complete my investigative series on the riot and establish myself as the top investigative journalist at the Free Press. Oh, and being able to rub it in Roger Bristol’s face wouldn’t be half bad either.

Thank you, Elizabeth! It was great to meet you!

***

Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin, and can be found online at www.erinbartels.com. We Hope for Better Things is her first novel.Bartels_Erin

Meet Mary Coffin Starbuck from Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Light Before Day

Name: Mary Coffin Starbuck

Parents: Tristram and Dionis Coffin 

Siblings: Too many to keep track of!  

Places lived: Moved to Nantucket Island in 1660

Jobs: Wife, mother, ran a trading store for most of my life

Friends: Everyone I met 

Enemies: None that I know of, or care to know of

Dating, marriage: Married Nathaniel Starbuck when I was 17 years old; he is the love of my life 

Children: Ten children, eight of whom lived to adulthood

What person do you most admire? Peter Foulger—a true Renaissance man

Overall outlook on life: Optimistic and realistic, both

Do you like yourself? I am both content and grateful

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Other than losing two children to an early grave, there is nothing I lack 

How are you viewed by others? A curious question! John Richardson, an early Quaker preacher said of me, “The Islanders established her a Judge among them, for a little of moment was done without her advice.” 

Physical appearance: Small but mighty

Eyes: Brown

Hair: Once brunette, now salt and pepper

Voice: Gentle in tone, forceful in content

How would you describe yourself? As a woman who has been fortunate to find an important role to play in a man’s world  

Characteristics: Intelligent, logical; some say blessed with wisdom 

Strongest/weakest character traits: It is both—my ability to see what needs to change, and my tolerance in allowing time for change to occur

How much self-control do you have? More with every passing year

Fears: Standing at the grave of one I dearly love and facing life without them

Collections, talents: I have a quick mind for details and accounting

What people like best about you: Friends kindly refer to me as the Deborah of Nantucket

Food, drink: Mullein tea on a cold foggy Nantucket day

Books: The Bible, of course; books are scarce on an island 

Best way to spend a weekend: The same way as every other day

What would a great gift for you be? To have all my children together, under one roof…and all their children, too

When are you happy? Every single day brings a moment of joy

What makes you angry? Mistreatment of those who are less fortunate

What makes you sad? Same as what makes me angry

What makes you laugh? Little children, baby animals…oh, and my husband Nathaniel makes me laugh

Hopes and dreams:For our island to have unity, without oppression (remember, we came from the mainland, where the Puritans fined us for every little infraction)

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? While still on the mainland, I stood by and watched friends and neighbors hurl rocks and stones at a Quaker woman 

Greatest success: When Quaker missionary John Richardson came to Nantucket in 1701 and I had a spiritual awakening

Biggest trauma: Burying two of my dear children

What do you care about most in the world?My family, my island, my faith

Do you have a secret? Oh my! There are no secrets on an island

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book?Well, they’re all my great great granddaughters!

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Absolutely nothing

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be:To end my life well

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Here is an example, taken straight from my journal: 

Stephen Hussey came into the store this afternoon. He settled into Father’s rocking chair by the fire and drank gallons of my mullein tea, talking to every person who came in. He carried his ear trumpet with him, which struck me as ironic for, despite being a Quaker, he is not fond of listening, only of talking. Stephen Hussey never had a thought that he couldn’t turn into a sermon. 

            Today, though, he remained quiet until the store was brimming over with customers. He rose to his feet and announced in his loud shrill voice, “I have a riddle for thee, Mary!”

The store grew quiet, all eyes turned to Stephen, as everyone enjoyed a good riddle, and he enjoyed a good audience.

“What’s gray and old and likes to be everywhere at once?”

“Nantucket fog,” I said, hoping he would now go home. 

“Nay. The answer is…Mary Coffin Starbuck!” He laughed and laughed, thoroughly amused with himself, until tears ran down his cheeks.That man! He sorely tries my patience.

Thanks for allowing this peek into your story, Mary!


Suzanne Woods Fisher
is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Phoebe’s LightMinding the Light, the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peaceand The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher and Facebook at SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor.

Introducing Louisa from Jessica Fellowes’s Bright Young Dead

Thank you for doing this. You appear very loyal, willing to threaten your job as a nanny to defend your friend who is accused of murder. You live in an exciting time because society is changing and it appears your hopes are changing as well. 

Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to become a nanny of sorts?

Louisa Cannon:I needed to get away from London and my friend Jennie was with Miss Nancy when I bumped into her just before Christmas 1919. Miss Nancy mentioned that the nursery maid had left and they were in need of another, what with Lady Redesdale expecting another baby at the time. I thought it couldn’t be too hard to pick up what to do, and I’m good enough at sewing too, because of helping my mother with laundry and mending the linens for the big houses. 

EC: Now that many of the girls are older you have morphed into a chaperone-what is that like?

LC: Nanny Blor looks after the littlest ones, and I think because Miss Nancy and Miss Pamela and I are not too far apart in age, it was more natural for it to be me going with them to London. Although I know London, I don’t know it the way they know it. I’d never have seen the insides of some of the houses they go to, let alone the parties and the nightclubs. Sitting with Miss Nancy or Miss Pamela I hear all kinds of conversations that the likes of me would never be party to usually. 

EC: You have become an amateur sleuth-why?

LC:I didn’t mean to! But Mr. Sullivan became a friend of mine, when he was working for the railway police – he’s a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police now – got me interested. Nanny Blor’s sister knew the nurse who was murdered on the train, and that got everyone involved somehow. I didn’t really want to get caught up in it all but somehow it happened, and knowing Miss Nancy and hearing what the police were investigating. it meant I was the one who could put the pieces together I think. 

EC: Alice Diamond is a larger than life criminal-are you afraid of her?

LC:Yes, but not because I thought she would be violent. It was more that she was the most powerful woman I’d ever seen. I didn’t know a woman could command attention in a room like she could. And she does whatever she wants. I’m not saying those are necessarily good things and she’s a thief – that’s bad, of course. But there’s something amazing about seeing a woman know what she wants and go after it, with no man stopping her.

EC: Do you ever wish that you can trade places with the “Bright Young Things,” those you work for, and become part of the rich and famous?

LC:I don’t think that I want be rich and famous, I want to be myself. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t be myself and have a little of what they have sometimes. I do like those beautiful dresses. It’s all just pretend in a way, like putting wallpaper up. What you look like on the outside – does that mean that’s what you are on the inside? I don’t know. I feel sometimes like what I wear betrays me and that if someone could really see me, they’d see me in something different. But I am who I am, I can’t change that and I don’t know that I really want to. 

EC: How would you describe your relationship with Guy?

LC:Oh. That’s hard to do. I like Guy, I like him a lot. We’ve been friends for some years now and I know he has been sweet on me in the past. It’s just complicated because I want to work, and if I marry, I have to quit my job. But for Guy, life could go on just the same as before, only he’d have a wife instead of his mother doing his washing and cooking his meals. It’s an exciting time for women right now – 1925! We can go out to work and earn our own money, and not have a father or husband telling us what to do. I want some of that. 

EC: Since this is 1925 are you a supporter of women’s suffrage?

LC:Yes, of course. We’ve got the vote now – well, sort of, if you’re over 30 years old and a house owner. But it’s better than the nothing we had before. I believe in women’s rights. There aren’t enough men around since the war and women have to be able to go out to work to support themselves. 

EC: Do you think he is unusual in that he treats women as equals-considering his police partner is a woman?

LC:Yes, I think Guy is unusual, which is why I like him and why it gets complicated between us. He does show real respect for women, and he listens. Not many men do that. Though I don’t know that he’s very interested in trying to change the world, he’s quite happy to keep the status quo, I think. So he’ll be good to women but I don’t think he wants them in charge or anything like that. What man does? 

EC: Is it more fun to be around Nancy or Pamela?

LC:They’re both very different. Miss Nancy is quite sharp, you have to be careful not to be on the wrong end of her. But she can also be very funny, and a lot of fun. She’s the most daring, the most willing to try something new. If it wasn’t for Miss Nancy I wouldn’t have had the courage to go to the 43 nightclub, and I’m grateful to her for that. Miss Pamela is quieter but she’s steady and kind. The others rely on her to be their rock. If you were in trouble, Miss Pamela’s the one you’d want on your side. 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LC:I don’t get much time for fun but I like reading – Lady Redesdale tells me books to read for history and she is kind enough to let me borrow from their library. Otherwise, I go for long walks with the littlest girls – Debo and Decca – and I love learning more about the flowers that grow in the country. I grew up in London and didn’t see much more than the odd patch of grass and oak trees. Out here in the country you can see for miles and miles, nothing but fields and hedgerows and birds soaring in the skies. It makes me feel free. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LC:I don’t know that I dare think beyond next week. But I suppose it would be nice to think that I might be a woman of some significance somehow, one day. That seems a bit silly, I know. I had to leave school at fourteen and I don’t know any science. I’m not sure what work I might be able to do but I’m always looking about, you read about things in the newspapers that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago. 

THANK YOU!!

JESSICA FELLOWES is an author, journalist, and public speaker, best known for her five official New York Times bestselling companion books to the Downton Abbey TV series. Former deputy director of Country Life, and columnist for the Mail on Sunday, she has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, She has knowledge of the 1920s era and has now ventured into writing  a series of historical crime fiction with returning characters Louis Cannon and Guy Sullivan. 

Book Review: Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick

Everything She Didn’t Say

by Jane Kirkpatrick
Revell, 978-0-8007-2701-7
September 2018

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson
Everything She Didn't Say-Book Cover
Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest novel is based on the diaries of Carrie Strahorn, a woman who during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century accompanied her railroad employee husband as he wrote promotion for westward settlers and later helped him build several new towns when he became an investor. Carrie wrote her own published pieces for magazines along with her account of their adventures in the American West.

It’s hard to imagine how pioneers grappled with establishing settlements in deserts, and the accounts of how they rode on stage coaches in Indian territory very much exposed with little to defend themselves with gave me shivers. Carrie’s longing for a family and how she resolved issues in her marriage made her a character readers will root for, even though modern readers can’t truly relate to the magnitude of her struggles.

Kirkpatrick takes the view that Strahorn probably gave a tidy version of her experiences in her memoir and in letters to her family, so she imagined what life had really been like for her based on historical accounts. There were parts of Carrie’s actual writings that do give the reader the idea that she’s not telling the whole story. These appear at the end of the chapters and are what Kirkpatrick built upon. The author is a master at this kind of storytelling. I’m a Jane Kirkpatrick fan. I love how she brings life to real historical figures, people that I probably never would have learned about if I hadn’t read her novels. The historical notes at the end of the book are not to be missed.

It did take me awhile to get into this story. If that’s the case for you, I recommend you keep reading. For me the pace really picked up in the last third of the book. The problem sometimes with telling the story of a real-life person is that there any many things that occur during a lifetime, and some of those things don’t move the story along at a pace fiction readers expect, and yet they really happened so the author wants to include them. Overall, I enjoyed the story. If you are a historical fiction fan, and it’s likely the readers of this blog are, I think you will enjoy Everything She Didn’t Say.

I was given a review copy by the publisher with no obligation to post a review. I have given my honest opinion.

Meet Enya from Cindy Thomson’s Enya’s Son

Finally Home LOHello, Enya. I’ve heard this is not the correct spelling. Could you tell us your correct name?

 

Greetings. It’s my pleasure to speak with you today. My name is Eithne, but my author did not think modern folks would understand my name so she changed it a bit. I really don’t know why. It is pronounced Awn-ya.

 

Oh, well, that makes sense. You are after all, from the sixth century, aren’t you?

 

You are correct.

 

At the beginning of the story, your author mentions a Bible verse from 1 Samuel: I am a woman who is deeply troubled. Was that referring to you?

 

Well, it’s referring to Hannah of the Scriptures, of course. But yes, I was also a woman deeply troubled, and just like Hannah, a priest misunderstood when I was praying. He thought I was drunk or some such thing. I’m not one for whispering or keeping quiet at all.

 

You were praying for a child, then?

 

Aye, I was, and God heard my prayer.

 

Was becoming a mother all you hoped it would be?

 

(Laughing) I had no idea what an adventure I was in for! My heart never stopped aching for that lad.

 

Because you sent him to be raised in the church?

 

That and more. ’Tis a hard thing for a mother to let go, and here in the wild landscape of Ireland anything can happen, and often does.

 

The plague, for example?

 

Awful business, that. My son lost his close friend to that pestilence, and I nearly lost my husband Fe to a terrible fever. Life is uncertain in my world.

 

Tell us about your husband.

 

Fe is the strongest man I know, and I don’t just mean muscle. He is my rock. It took me a long time to realize what a wonderful blessing God had given me. You see, I came from a family in the south who did not treat me right. They thought I was special because of my birth order.

(Taps finger on chin.) And, I suppose I might be special after all. Not the way they assumed, but special to God. I cannot tell you why. My author is shaking her head at me. Please read my book and find out!

 

Thank you, Enya. We would like to take a trip to sixth-century Ireland with you in your book!

***

Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, third in the Daughters of Ireland series based on ancient legends. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also written articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and children’s short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. She has also co-authored a baseball biography. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families, and can be found online at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and on Twitter: @cindyswriting.authorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3

Meet Bess Crawford from Charles Todd’s A Forgotten Place

Thanks for joining us!

41GH+Si0kELPeople have described you as independent, steadfast, intelligent, and resilient. You always seem to find a patient who needs your help and you never turn your back on them, even if it means risking your life. You are a nurse who will not back down from a situation or a mystery.  But you also have scars from being on the front lines and seeing so many men maimed and killed during this Great War.

Elise Cooper: Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

 

Bess Crawford: After my father retired from the army we went back to England. Then war came. Of course, I couldn’t march off with the regiment to France, however much it meant to me. The next best thing was to be a nursing Sister, and save as many of the wounded as I could. Unfortunately, some of those we saved had to go back into the line and were killed. But we did what we could, and I believe we made their dying easier even when we couldn’t make them well.  It was difficult, not an easy task, there on the front lines. I saw some terrible things, and sometimes I dream about them. But I have no regrets. And I am so grateful to my parents for letting me train for the Queen Alexandra’s. They could have said no, but they understood why I felt I must do this.

 

EC: Do you think WWI brought more power to women, as many took on professions? 

 

BC: The answer must be no.  We didn’t achieve any power at all, not really. It was always made clear that we were replacing men who were needed in the field. Even the nurses knew that many Army officers were appalled at the thought of women so close to the Front, and they’d have been just as happy to have orderlies take over our work. The fact that we were trained to deal with wounds didn’t enter into it. We were women.  I’ve heard that some of the Australian nurses in Egypt were denied resources, to force them to give up. They didn’t, of course, but it was a rough patch, and it was the patients who suffered.  However, I think we showed our country that we could pull our weight when England was in danger, and she didn’t collapse from our mismanagement. (Bess smiles.)

We grew vegetables, we took over desks where men could be spared, we worked in factories and drove omnibuses—and we did it all well. That was what mattered. And after the war, some women will be allowed to vote, if the Government keeps its promise to the Suffragettes. There will be restrictions, I’m sure, and I probably shan’t be old enough.  Nor do I own property or stand as head of a household. Still, it will be a beginning. Although some men will go on claiming we aren’t emotionally capable of wise decisions. I ask you!

 

EC: When the War is finally over would you like to be a detective? 

 

BC:(Laughing.)  I don’t think so. Heavens, no.  I did what I had to do, out of duty and a sense of what was right.  But my cousin, Melinda Trent, also a soldier’s daughter, tells me that trouble always knows where to find me.  (Laughter fades.) That could be true. I was part of a regiment, however small a part that was. And I expect that will shape my life for a long time. When someone is in very great trouble, how do you shake your head and just walk away?  The Army never runs. How could I?

 

EC: How has your dad influenced you? 

 

BC: We call him Colonel Sahib, which is what the native soldiers called him. It’s a term of respect, rather like Colonel Sir. He was such a good officer, and the Army called him back during the war to do certain missions and deal with certain matters—my mother and I never knew what these were. But he continues to serve in any way he can. And that’s good, because he’s wise and experienced and level-headed. I have always admired and loved him, and I can speak to him on any subject, and he listens to me and gives me his honest opinion. He dealt with a regiment and he still found time for a small daughter.

 

EC:  Do you think he admired you for serving during WWI?

 

BC:Although he’s never said it, I think he was very proud of what I did in the war. Even though he must have been terrified for me there in the forward aid stations, he gave me permission to go. He didn’t want me to have my own motorcar, either, but he just shook his head and accepted it when I drove up.

 

EC: How has your mom influenced you? 

 

BC: My mother’s rather exceptional too!  As the Colonel’s Lady, she had a good deal of responsibility toward the wives and children of the men in our regiment, and she took that quite seriously.  She’s the daughter of a country squire, well-educated, brought up with great marriage prospects because there was money in the family. And then she fell in love with a handsome Army officer, and my poor grandparents were appalled!  But they had the good sense to see that it was really love, not just the uniform, and they agreed to the marriage. She insisted I learn to play the piano, draw, sew and cook and run a household, while I was more interested in riding and other exciting things.  And I am so glad she did, because even wild little girls grow up to be women. She’s warm-hearted, sensible, calm in emergencies, a good tennis player, and I love her more than I can say.  She married a man with responsibilities, grave ones, and she’s given him the support and love he needed to be his best. I hope I can do the same one day.

 

EC: How come you have not had any intimate relationships? 

 

BC:(Laughing).  This is early 1919, Elise, nice women don’t have “intimate relationships.” And I respect my parents too much to be anything but the woman they want me to be. I’ve had so many friends, many of them men because of my upbringing, and I enjoy working with them and talking to them. I didn’t expect Sergeant Lassiter to propose, you know.

 

EC:  Why didn’t you accept it?

 

BC:That was such a terrible moment, because I knew he meant his proposal, and I wasn’t ready to fall in love. Well, I couldn’t, could I? I’d have been dismissed from the Queen Alexandra’s. And this was my work, my duty–I’d taken it on and I wanted to keep serving as long as the wounded needed care. Several of my friends, including my flat mate, Diana, had to keep an engagement secret for several years, or lose her own place. I didn’t feel I could do that. I tried to let him down as gently as I could, but that’s painful all the same.

 

EC: How would you describe Simon and your interactions? 

 

BC(Smiling.)  Simon is Simon.  He lied about his age, you know. Tall and strong as he was, he got away with it, but he was just a wild boy. He exasperated my father, but the Colonel Sahib could see beyond the wildness, and he knew what Simon could be capable of.  He took him under his wing, made him a man, and he asked him to go back to England to train as an officer, but Simon refused.  I think my father knows something about him that my mother and I don’t, because he never insisted on Simon going back. My mother did something for Simon out in India that he owes her for. Something rather serious, I think, but I don’t know about that either. And it’s Simon’s secret, not mine. He’s become the son my father never had. And that’s precious to me.

 

EC:  So do you consider him a brother?

 

BC:Simon is also the brother I never had, in and out of my life since India, since I was small. (Looking away.) I’m terribly fond of him.  And he’s been such a rock…

 

EC: What effect has the war had on you? 

 

BC: There was fighting out in India, wounds, men dying, trouble with the tribes along the Frontier with Afghanistan. We saw that and I thought I’d seen war. But the Great War was so much worse. And I was grown, a nurse. No one spared me the bad news, as they tried to do in India when I was small.  I have nightmares, as I’ve mentioned. And I have had to learn to put my emotions aside and try to help a patient, no matter how terrible his wound might be.  A nurse must remain calm, no matter what. And the discipline I learned in India, where it could be so dangerous, and the discipline I learned in nursing, to be objective and sensible, have helped.  I hope some of what I’ve seen will fade with time. One day I’ll want to marry, have children, and I don’t want them to see the shadows of war in me.  My mother is a good model there—she never let me feel threatened or afraid of anything, even when she was most worried about my father out in the field in India.

 

EC: From your viewpoint what effect has the war had on the fighting men? 

 

BC: Of course, there are the dead, so many, many of them.  And the missing. Many men were taken prisoner during the fighting too. This is never good for morale, but they were all so brave, the men I worked with.  You know, they didn’t fear death as much as they did losing a limb or being terribly disfigured—burns, facial wounds, ugly scars. I have worked with so many amputees and burn victims, and I have sometimes seen them break. Especially when they realize they can’t support their family. The last thing they want is to be a burden. Even now since the war is over, we’ve lost too many to depression. I find it so sad.

 

EC:  There are emotional wounds?

 

BC:  These are the other wounds you don’t see. Of the mind. Shell shock. People who don’t know anything about war call that cowardice. I know too well that it is the shock of losing so many men in too short a time.  The officers felt this most particularly.  New recruits would arrive, and before anyone could learn more than their names, they were killed. And an officer had to send men back over the top even when he knew it was useless to try again. There were the men caught in shell blasts, who died without a mark on them. Others deafened or shocked senseless by the tunnels going up.  I was so proud of our Army. But when a battle lasts for months, as it did on the Somme, men will break. Some will be stronger afterward, though.  I have seen that too.

 

EC: What have you learned about yourself after serving in the War? 

 

BC: I went into nursing with great hopes of saving lives. I had to learn that one can’t save them all, no matter how skilled the doctors and nurses might be. I had to learn how to sit beside a dying man and keep his spirits up to the end, with smiles and a brave front.  I had to face German soldiers taking over my aid station and keep calm, keep my patients safe.  I had to watch over them in ambulances being fired upon from the air, or crossing countryside where there were no roads and my patients suffered. I’ve crossed seas where U-boats were waiting, and knew that if we went down, I might not survive, but none of my patients had a chance. I’ve had other problems to cope with, of course, helping people in various ways. I’ve learned to be braver than I thought I could be, but I try never to be foolish. Still, I hate injustice, I hate to see people being hurt or taken advantage of. I always have. The war hasn’t changed that.

 

EC: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you want to go considering you have been to many places? 

 

BC: I’ve had an invitation to a wedding in Ireland!  A nurse I served with on Britannic. The ship sank, but we survived.  I’m so happy for her.  First, I must go back to France for a few weeks. Matron has something she wants me to help her to do there. And I want to go back to India. Melinda Crawford, my cousin, would like me to travel with her when it’s safe to go. We want Simon to come with us. He’s reluctant to return to India. But Melinda will persuade him, I think. And my parents would feel happier if we weren’t traveling so far alone.  Melinda was a heroine in the Great Indian Mutiny. Imagine that. She’s traveled everywhere. I’d like to see South Africa. Perhaps Canada or America. So much of the world is unsettled now, so perhaps I shall have to be patient. (Smiles.) Or I might marry and never travel at all. Who knows?

 

EC: What do you do to relax? 

 

BC: I used to ride quite often in India. Horses didn’t fare well in Africa, with the tsetse flies and other diseases, and so I didn’t learn to ride until I was in India. I enjoy a fast game of tennis. I enjoy reading. I had a very good governess who made reading exciting. My father taught me to play chess, too. As a child, I liked putting up fruits and jams with my mother and our cook, but my favorite thing was helping make our Christmas Puddings.  And eating them too, of course. (Smiles.) I love to drive my own motorcar but don’t have many opportunities at present. I’ve driven Simon’s—it’s larger and more powerful than mine, but I can manage it. Although the first time I turned the crank on that one, I thought my elbow would break!  My mother drives as well. I enjoy parties, but we haven’t had many since the war began. I’m quite a good dancer, and I rather enjoy that too. But so many of my dancing partners are dead now. So sad.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years? 

 

BC: Oh my!  In five years?  I shall surely have finished nursing. Unless there is another war, of course.  Married?  I shan’t even be thirty by then. Before the war I’d be considered a spinster now! (Laughs.) Ah well. Perhaps someone will still wish to marry me. Simon tells me that I’m too stubborn. Well, he isn’t married either, so there!

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams? 

 

BC:For peace. I’ve seen enough death. It’s time the world learned to get along.

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked? 

 

BC:  You’ve been quite formidably thorough, you know. I’ve found myself thinking about things I haven’t put into words even to myself.  I just got back from a most beautiful part of Wales. There were some rather awful things going on there, but some happiness came of that too.  I’m glad. I’ve been summoned to London to the Queen Alexandra’s HQ to speak to Matron about an assignment in France. They’re talking about Peace there, but they don’t seem to be very friendly about it. I don’t know just what I’m to do there, but I’ll find out in London.  Wish me luck. But there’s the Irish wedding in June, that’s to look forward to. My parents are a little worried about Ireland, but I shall manage, After all, I’m an Army Nursing Sister. What harm could come to me in Ireland? I nursed Irish troops during the war…

 

BC: Thank you, Elise. It’s been a pleasure. (Laughs) I don’t believe I’ve ever been interviewed before. Life is always full of unexpected things. And there’s Simon, arriving to drive me home. He’s amused by all this. I shan’t hear the end of it, you know.

 

 EC:Thank you for doing this, much appreciated!

***

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels.CharlesTodd_7861_retouched

 

 

Katie Stuckey Stopped By from Jan Drexler’s The Sound of Distant Thunder

The Sound of Distant Thunder-Book CoverName: My name is Katie Stuckey.

Parents: Papa’s name is Gustav, and Mama is Margaretta, but I only call them Mama and Papa.

Siblings: I have three brothers and two sisters. They are all married, and I have nineteen nieces and nephews. My siblings are much older than I am, and they were all born in Alsace-Lorraine, in Europe, before my family came here to Ohio twenty years ago.

Places lived: I have only lived here on our farm in Weaver’s Creek.

Jobs: I have never worked away from home, although I think it would be fun to be a mother’s helper for some family.

Friends: My friends are Millie Beiler and Rosie Keck. I’m also becoming friends with Jonas’ sisters, Ruby and Elizabeth, even though they are older than I am.

Enemies: I’ve never liked Ned Hamlin, but I rarely see him. And Elizabeth’s husband, Reuben Kaufman is just like him.

Dating, marriage: I’m going to marry Jonas Weaver. Isn’t that exciting? But Papa says we can’t marry until after my eighteenth birthday.

Children: I hope to have many children. I want to have two girls first, and then boys. Jonas wants to have boys first. Isn’t that just what a man would say?

What person do you most admire? Lydia Weaver, Jonas’ mother. My Mama is so demanding and in a bad mood much of the time, but Lydia always welcomes me into their home for a cup of tea or to share a receipt for cookies or one of Jonas’ favorite meals.

Overall outlook on life: I can’t wait for my life to start! When Jonas and I get married, it will be wonderful.

Do you like yourself? Most of the time. I try to have a fun time and help others have fun, too.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would like to be older. It is so difficult to wait until Jonas and I can marry.

How are you viewed by others? My friends like me, and Lena, my brother Hans’ wife says she likes for me to visit. Sometimes though, I think Mama considers me to be a little girl still. I wish she would let me grow up.

Physical appearance: I have brown hair and eyes, just like the rest of my family. I’m a little plumper than my friends, though. Millie says I take after Papa, but I’d rather be slim like Ruby and Elizabeth.

Strongest/weakest character traits: I don’t like to be alone with men, other than Jonas and my family. That’s my weakest trait. My strongest trait is that I will always be faithful to Jonas. He is my one true love.

How much self-control do you have? None. If there are fresh cookies on the table, I’ll eat them.

Fears: Strange men.

What people like best about you: I’m friendly to all the girls. Millie and Becky are my closest friends, but I get along with everyone.

Interests and favorites: I’ve recently begun making a quilt. It’s the first one I’ve made all on my own, and I have enjoyed choosing the colors and the pattern. I’m afraid Mama will say it’s too fancy, but it’s for me and Jonas.

Food, drink: I love pies of all kinds, and cookies. Hot tea is my favorite drink in the winter. I had lemonade one time in the summer, and I’d like to try it again. I think it could easily become my favorite.

Books: I liked to read when I was in school, and I remember enjoying Uncle Tom’s Cabin very much. I wasn’t able to finish it, though. Our teacher passed away suddenly and the school was closed.

Best way to spend a weekend: Sundays are my favorite day. We have church every other week, and the off-church Sundays are spent with our family.

What would a great gift for you be? Something for our new home. Jonas gave me a lamp for Christmas and it is very pretty.

When are you happy? I’m happy when I’m with Jonas.

What makes you angry? When Mama and Papa treat me like a little girl.

What makes you sad? Being the last one at home. I wish I had a brother or sister that was close to my age.

What makes you laugh? Being with Jonas. He likes to tease me.

Hopes and dreams: I like to go to the house Jonas is building for us and dream about what it will be like when we are married. I like to pretend I can see our children playing in the yard.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I killed a man – or at least he died because of me. But please, don’t tell anyone. I’d rather forget about it.

Wow!

Biggest trauma: My last day of school. It was terrible and embarrassing, and then Teacher Harrison… well, I don’t think I’ll say any more.

What do you care about most in the world? Besides Jonas, I care about my nieces and nephews. They are all so sweet and fun to be around, but each one is different from the other. I spend all year making Christmas presents for them.

Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Katie!

Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of several Love Inspiredhistorical novels, as well as Hannah’s Choice, Mattie’s Pledge (a 2017 Holt Medallion finalist), and Naomi’s Hope.

Drexler_Jan

 

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT LANGFORD FROM THE GLASS OCEAN BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS, LAUREN WILLIG, and KAREN WHITE

Glass_Ocean copyThank you for doing this. You have had some hard knocks in your life. As a British gentleman who lives during the Victorian years you had to conform to your father’s wishes.  Now you are heading back to England, after taking some time away in America, on the lavish ocean liner, Lusitania.  I am sure there are times on that ship where you tried to put the world behind you, but I am also sure you understand the inherit dangers considering the Germans warned all passengers that they are sailing at their own risk. 

 

Let’s start out by going back in time.

 

Elise Cooper: Do you think your childhood impacted who you are today?

 

Robert Langford:  You want me to talk about my childhood.  You Americans.  Always so familiar.  Next, you’ll be wanting to call everyone by their first names.  Doesn’t everyone’s childhood impact who they are?  It was a normal childhood: growing up at Langford Hall, barley water with Nanny, being brought down to the drawing room once a day to see Mother and Father, that is when he was down from London, listening to the sound of my mother’s piano playing through the closed doors of the music room.  Just like anyone’s childhood.  Well, at least I had my brother Jamie…

 

EC: Why did you trail off, you appear deep in thought?

 

RL:  You haven’t heard about the accident?  I thought everyone knew.  My father certainly made sure everyone knew.  Jamie, my older brother, and I were sailing.  My brother was fearless and brave and very clever.  The perfect brother.  The perfect son.  Just perfect, really.  They do say whom the gods love die young.  Or perhaps it’s just easier to blame the gods than blame myself.  I was the one who should have drowned that day. I was the one who went overboard. When Jamie went after me….

 

EC:  Do you need a few minutes?

 

RL:Ahem.  I beg your pardon.  My glass appears to be empty, a lamentable oversight.  I must remedy it.

 

EC: Let me rephrase the question, while growing up, did you feel like a stepchild regarding how your father interacted with you?

 

RL:  Ah, that’s better. Mmmm, a stepchild?  There was never any doubt I was a true-born Langford, but I was a second son.  I was meant to be superfluous.  I never begrudged Jamie his place and I was content to live in his shadow.  Once he died, it was clear to everyone that I could never fill his shoes, so I selected the squeakiest shoes I could find.

 

EC: Is one of your hobbies playing the piano?

 

RL:  Hobby—what a quaint way of putting it.  I’ve been known to dabble.  If you want to hear a true virtuoso, you should listen to Caroline…pardon me, Mrs. Hochstetter.

 

EC: Any other hobbies?

 

RL:  Espionage, alcohol, and bedeviling my father.

 

EC: Espionage, is that why you want to be a spy novelist?

 

RL:  Have I spoken of this?  I’m not aware.  Unless you’re referring to those little pieces I wrote for the New York TimesandThe Spectator.  Those aren’t meant to be fiction.  I do enjoy the odd novel, but I sometimes find their plots too fantastical to be true.

 

EC: Being an Englishman it appears you like to tease your American friends about their different habits and culture?

 

RL:  When the Americans manage to acquire a culture, I will make a note to tease them. I do find this side of the pond quite refreshing.  One is freed from the heavy gaze of one’s ancestors.

 

EC: You are heading back home to England on the RMS Lusitania. Why travel knowing it would be dangerous?

 

RL:  Langfords laugh in the face of danger.  Have I told you about my ancestor the Admiral?

 

EC: If you are from a military family don’t you have some guilt about not enlisting to fight in WWI?

 

RL:Isn’t the pen meant to be mightier than the sword? We all serve in our own way.

 

EC: For those of us who never went on a cruise ship can you please describe it?

 

RL:  What is a… cruise ship?  Are you referring to an ocean liner?  It is a floating conveyance meant to mimic the sort of hotel frequented by debutantes, dowagers, and dandies who prefer to travel with all the comforts of home– assuming your home is in Mayfair or on Fifth Avenue.  I understand there may also be a second class.

 

EC: You were seen breaking some rules of class by offering a lower-class traveler first class privileges?

 

RL:Only those who have no class are concerned by it. Americans, for instance.

 

EC: Rumor has it you are attracted to two women on the ship, an old flame, Caroline, and someone you just met, Tess?

 

RL:A gentleman never tells.

 

EC: Do you see similarities or differences in these two women?

 

RL:Would you have me compare orchids and daisies? Each has its own charms.

 

EC: Someone told me one of the Schuyler women said this, “Mrs. Hochstetter is an orchid, elegant and rare, while Tess is a common daisy.” Do you agree or disagree?

 

RL:I try not to listen to the Schulyer women.  One usually exits discreetly when they enter a room.

 

EC: Do you think all these worlds collided on the ship?

 

RL:  Ships are like Continental hotels; one can never tell whom one might meet.  The difference is the only means of egress would leave one quite damp.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

 

RL:  Does any man know what the future holds?  My family only looks at the past, not the future.

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

 

RL:  To get off this blasted boat.  Oh, bother. The Schulyer women approach.  Is that whiskey in that decanter?

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked?

 

RL:  Rule Britannia.  God save the King.  And put on that bloody life vest.

 

Thanks again for doing this.  It is much appreciated. Please stay safe!

3 WsBeatriz Williams: A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. 

 
LAUREN WILLIG:  is the author of several New York Times bestselling works of historical fiction,  She is a RITA Award-winner for Best Regency Historical for The Mischief of the Mistletoe. A graduate of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
 
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty previous books, including The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between