This week I am continuing a special look at some of my fellow Wild Rose Press authors. Today my special guest is Susan Macatee, who will be discussing her work and her book, Thoroughly Modern Amanda.
Welcome Susan. You specialize in writing historical romances, especially around the Civil War. What interested you about that time period?
First I'd like to say thanks for having me on your blog today, Rebecca.
I got drawn into the Civil War period when my husband started watching the Ken Burns series. Afterward, we took family trips to visit battlefields and museums and our ultimate Civil War location was Gettysburg. Since we live in Philadelphia, we were able to visit there more than once and we met a few reenactors. My husband was fascinated and wanted to participate, so he found a reenactment group in Philadelphia. We joined as a family and spent about ten years while our sons were growing up, camping out, dressing up and living as if we were in the 19th century during the Civil War. My husband, and later the boys as they grew older, played the part of soldiers. All the research that went into making reenacting authentic trickled down into my writing.
Your blog has some fascinating historical information about Victorian women writers. Is there anyone in particular who really intrigues you?
All the women writers I've researched fascinate me, but in particular, I loved the story of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women. She worked as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War in one of the hospitals and contracted typhoid fever. The drug they gave her to fight it gave her mercury poisoning that affected her for the rest of her life. I actually modeled part of the heroine's story in a young adult novel I had published in 2002 on Alcott. The heroine, a teen in the story, worked beside her physician father in a Washington hospital, became ill, and had to be sent home. My character didn't contract a life-long illness though, and that same character was resurrected at a later age in my American-Victorian romance, Cassidy's War. But I loved the idea of a Victorian woman novelist so much, that a few of my heroines in other books and novellas have been writers. Both Erin's Rebel and Thoroughly Modern Amanda feature women writer heroines.
Most I learned while reenacting and reading non-fiction books about the period. I've used a lot of that information in my romance stories.
Where do you come up with the ideas for your historical stories?
My first full-length romance, Erin's Rebel, is partly autobiographical. When I was in college, I thought about going into journalism, but decided I liked writing fiction better. My heroine in that story is a newspaper reporter. And, since it's a time travel story, I used my own experiences as a reenactor in describing my heroine's reactions to being trapped in the 19th century in a Confederate army camp. The other stories I've had published were primarily based on real life people in non-fiction books I've read about the period. Everything I read filters down into my stories in one way or another.
Historical romance has always been a favorite of some many readers. What do you think draws them in?
I think, like me, it's fun to be swept away by a romance and no matter how bad the twists and turns take the couple, a reader always knows they'll get that happily-ever-after. For me, and I'm sure for them, it's pure escape. Who wouldn't want to get lost in a great romance after a hard day?
Tell us a little about your journey to publication?
It was long coming. I'd always wanted to write and took journalism and creative writing courses in school, but it wasn't until I'd been a stay-at-home mom for about eight years that I finally took a correspondence course in creative writing with the ultimate goal of seeking publication. This was years before the Internet existed. While still finishing up the course, the instructor encouraged me to submit the stories I wrote for the course. I was ultimately published in a few small magazines that paid only in copies. I then decided I wanted to write a novel and took a novel-writing course. My first novel was a children's book that was never published, although I did submit it. Just racked up a slew of rejections.
But I persevered and finally joined Romance Writer's of America. I took a lot of online workshops with RWA, and entered my initial work in contests to get feedback. I finally published my first romance, a time travel, with The Wild Rose Press. I now have seven books and novellas out with them and one coming out this January.
What do you like best about your current release?
I like that the heroine in Thoroughly Modern Amanda is a Victorian writer with big ambitions and a feminist streak. And the hero, who travels through time, is a construction worker in love with Victorian houses.
Tell us about it and your inspiration for it?
Thoroughly Modern Amanda was inspired my Civil War time travel romance, Erin's Rebel. Amanda is the daughter of the hero in Erin's Rebel, Will Montgomery, a Confederate army captain. In Thoroughly Modern Amanda, she has her own story as an adult woman working as a writer for a small town magazine. In the original book, Erin's Rebel, Amanda's step-mother, time traveling Erin Branigan, was a newspaper reporter, who finds work in the past writing for a magazine, then ultimately settles into writing novels. Amanda aspires to be a writer like her step-mother. And the hero, Jack Lawton, is a construction worker who wants to restore an old Victorian home. Research on Victorian homes for my other stories had a direct influence on the creation of this new story.
How can we follow you?
I also have a blog http://susanmacate.wordpress.com
And I belong to a group blog http://slipintosomethingvictorian.wordpress.com
I'm also on Twitter @susanmacatee
I love to hear from readers and if you leave a comment, I'll enter you in a drawing to win an autographed copy of Thoroughly Modern Amanda. (US addresses only)