About Peyton’s Promise:
It’s the summer of 1902, and Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.
Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.
Tell us a little about the Thousand Islands where you live.
I grew up in Clayton, NY, in the heart of the Thousand Islands. 1,864 islands are shared almost equally between New York state and Ontario, Canada. It’s where Lake Ontario narrows and becomes the St. Lawrence River, and the islands are known as The Thousand Islands. Here the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River intersect to become the world’s largest inland navigation system. Huge freighters pass by tiny islands along the main channel and share the waterway with all kinds of boats including kayaks and canoes!
In 1872, George M. Pullman invited President Ulysses S. Grant to visit his small island during the reelection campaign.When President Grant and his entourage came, the Thousand Islands became a national event. The press touted the Thousand Islands as THE place to summer for the rich and famous and common man alike. In so doing—and thanks to excited journalists—he launched The Thousand Islands season of the rich and famous buying islands and lots along the mainland and building castles, mansions, and magnificent summer homes. Calumet Island, where I work, is one of them.
You work in a castle on an island? Tell us more.
Calumet Castle graces the entry point to the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. It was one of the first castles that the ocean-going ships see as they travel downriver from Lake Ontario through the Thousand Islands to the sea. New York City tycoon Charles G. Emery purchased Powder Horn Island in 1882. Since the island reflected the shape of a peace pipe, he changed the name of the island to Calumet, a French word for the Native American ceremonial peace pipe.
Calumet Castle has thirty rooms, including the largest private ballroom in New York. Several out buildings included a water tower, the caretakers home, a guesthouse, a boathouse, a men’s dormitory, and an ice house. I get to stay and work in the castle, and it’s simply magical.
How did you get into the man’s career of upholstery work?
I started out to be a seamstress, but when a couple in Watertown offered me an apprenticeship, it grabbed it. Yes, upholstery work is usually done by men, but Mr. O’Cleary taught Mrs. O’Cleary, and she taught me. Some of the townsfolk didn’t like that, but I excelled in the art and ignored their snubs.
You also got involved with the Suffrage Movement. What was that like?
The O’Clearys were deep into the movement in Watertown and drew me into it. Most of their friends were involved in fighting for women’s rights, and they befriended me. Unfortunately, my involvement with them and the movement kept me from church and finding Christian friends, so my faith took a backseat for a while.
When you came to Calumet Castle, you reconnected with your childhood friend, Patrick. How’d did that go?
I couldn’t believe my eyes when Patrick appeared in the ballroom. Three years earlier, he had hurt me terribly, so we had lots of ups and downs before I finally chose to forgive him and embrace his friendship—and finally his love.
You and Patrick helped your father with the Calumet Ball’s fireworks?
The Emerys invited two hundred guests to the ball, but Papa got hurt and needed help putting on the grand finale fireworks extravaganza, so we stepped in. To our surprise, the New York Times even reported on the illustrious event.
And oh, what a lovely ball it was! Guests, including one of Queen Victoria’s former ladies in waiting, arrived at the island’s main dock to the Castle. Upon entering the castle ballroom, flowers decorated every corner, art nouveau furnishings graced the large room, and the orchestra played from the balcony. The violin, piano, violincello, and cornet blended in perfect harmony as the orchestra played from the inner balcony. The waltzing couples skirted each other as they glided gracefully around the room. Dancers twirled and moved like flowers until late into the night. Patrick and I were able to sneak a peek before helping Papa with the fireworks.
After the ball, we put on an elaborate fireworks display from one of the smaller islands in front of Calumet, and our friend, Mitch, launched ten thousand Japanese lanterns onto the river. Hundreds of boats floated on the mighty St. Lawrence River and joined in the celebration. It had to have been an experience that rivaled the balls of the Vanderbilts and others. And Patrick and I were a part of it all.
Tell us three things we’d find if we looked under your bed?
That’s a funny question. Under my bed you’d find a basket of upholstery tools including chalk, upholstery needles, a rubber mallet, scissors and needle guard. You’d also find several pamphlets on women’s suffrage wrapped in scrap material.
About the author:
Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. She has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. Susan has seven in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, and her newest,Colleen’s Confession. Peyton’s Promise and Rachel’s Reunion release in 2022 and she just finished book ten, Mary’s Moment. Her book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is a Selah Awards finalist.
How can we connect with you?
Peyton’s Promise Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE39GyUfMjA