As writers, we are often asked where we get the inspiration for the stories we write. The answer to that question is easy for today's blog guest, author Susan Leigh Furlong.
First of all, Susan says she knew she had a special connection with words since she was a child. When she was 9 years old, she wrote and directed her first play for the neighborhood children.
But she also had a love for history and she says that inspiration helped move her along in the writing world. She credits that combination with fueling her resilience against the sneezes and coughs that old books give her as she delves into research for unique events to inspire her historical fiction romance novels. Susan captures her readers’ imagination with a highly enthralling style, chronological events, and smoothly flowing narratives that keep one’s eyes glued on her novels from the first page to the last.
Susan has written two non-fiction books and three novels set in sixteenth century Scotland as well as several short stories published in national magazines. My Writing Corner has had the pleasure of featuring one of her earlier books, Keeper of My Dreams. Her most recent release is Desperate Hope, a novel set during the American Revolution. When Susan is not combing through history, piecing together her next novel, she writes, directs, and performs with a music and drama group.
Let's get a blurb on her latest book, Desperate Hope:
His new country needed him. He needed her more
Revolutionary War soldier, Gavin Cullane, has desperate choices to make. He vows never to give up the fight for American freedom, but his role as colonial liaison between the Americans and the British brands him a seeming traitor to his own country. When he discovers the woman he loves is part of George Washington’s secret spy chain, his only choice is to expose his own lies so she can escape.
Tansy Carter risks her life to send messages to George Washington from the captured city of New York. When she is discovered, she must flee the city, and trusting her life to the traitor, Cullane, is the desperate chance she must take.
Will their freedom come at the cost of their love?
Now let's hear directly from the characters. We'll start with Gavin.
What is your main goal?
I made a promise to my best friend, Alden Carter, before he died in my arms, that I would fight for American freedom any way I could, so my first goal had to be getting off the British prison ship. My only choice was to pose as a British liaison and spy on the Americans. I played my role well, but I kept searching for ways to send information to George Washington, making me seem to be a traitor to both sides. Then I met Alden’s widow, Tansy, and playing a double role became impossible. I discovered she sent secret coded messages to George Washington from the captured city of New York. My British handler tricked me into revealing the truth, but my love for her, and my promise to Alden, made it impossible for me to do anything but help her escape.
What draws you to Tansy?
When I first saw the portrait of Alden’s wife in his pocket watch, I thought, here is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Alden told me so many stories about her, I felt like I knew her, and I fell in love, if only in my daydreams. After his death, and I discovered her living in New York, everything changed. She was all Alden had said about her, courageous and strong, with a caring heart. She was everything I had ever wanted in a woman, but to her I was a traitor and a threat. I needed her to know the truth about me without sending both of us to a British noose.
What frightens you about her?
She has taken over my life, first in my daydreams and now in my living. I’ve lost control. Working as a servant all my life, I had been taught the proper order of things, but the war, and now Tansy, threw all that into turmoil. I didn’t have guidelines to follow. I was on my own, and I struggled to make things right, sometimes failing miserably. What happens to me doesn’t matter, but what happens to her is everything. Can I save her or will my mistakes cost her life?
What do you see for your future?
Until this war is over, my future doesn’t exist. I live to get through the next moment, to tell the next lie. More than anything I want to make Tansy my own, but I can have only one goal now, to get her and her family out of British-held New York City and into Continental-held territory in New Jersey. Not until she is safe with her family in southern New Jersey can I make any decisions about my own future.
Now let's hear from Tansy:
Why do you want to help George Washington?
The war killed my beloved husband, Alden, leaving me alone to raise his unborn child. The British put the city of New York under martial law, and the restrictions to life here are crushing. Not everyone can fight against tyranny with a gun, some do it with words and actions that no one can see. I long for a better life for myself and my son, one that only freedom can bring.
What draws you to Gavin?
My first reaction to Gavin when he threatened to arrest my nephew was to get rid of him like I would a rat in the flour bin. Yet, something about him made me want to know what kind of man he really was. Maybe it was that he knew my late husband or maybe it was his compassion in not taking my nephew to prison or even how his eyes spoke of a pain deeper than he could express. I felt guilty thinking about him in a positive light, but his actions kept showing me a generous heart and a keen mind, revealing to me a man I could love.
What frightens you about him?
The first time I met him he came to arrest my nephew, Charles, for stealing a British mail pouch, and I hated what he stood for. Yet I wondered how a man so intelligent, strong willed, and caring could work for the enemy. I watched him risk punishment by bringing supplies to people devastated by a city-wide fire while at the same time threatening to reveal my part in a network of spies for George Washington. I couldn’t put Gavin into the proper place in my heart or my head. The confusion of my thoughts was overwhelming, but he became the only one I could trust with my life and the lives of my loved ones. I prayed I was right about him.
How do you see your future with him or do you see one?
I was a widow with a young son to raise, and the British occupation of the city made the world seem darker than it ever had been. The handsome traitor threatened me and my family with being hanged as spies, so I lived “holding my breath” that disaster wasn’t around the next corner. After Gavin Cullane convinced me of his true character and his true feelings, we were on the run from the British officer, Simon Duffy. Repeatedly, Gavin put his life on the line to protect me, and when we got to the safety of my family home, I believed our future would be there. But Gavin said he couldn’t live the life I had envisioned for us, the life of a dairy farmer. He said he needed to choose his own path, so I vowed that his future would be mine. Where he was, I would be also.
Want more? How about an excerpt:
Tansy Carter and her brother-in-law, Nate Hemstead, send secret spy messages to George Washington from the British held city of New York. Gavin Cullane, an American patriot posing as a British Liaison officer must now convince Tansy of his true loyalties to save her from being captured and hanged.
“You can’t be seen with me. My orders include providing the evidence that will lead to your arrest, and Nate’s too. Please, let’s get off the street.”
Tansy lifted her skirts and started running away from him. Taking chase, he caught up with her two blocks later. After shoving her, none too gently, into a recessed doorway, he held her against the wall.
… “I want to help you escape New York so Simon Duffy can’t find you or any of the family. I’m telling you the truth.”
“Who in the name of all the saints is Simon Duffy?” she asked with a sharp punch to his gut that made him double over….
“He’s the British officer I’ve been reporting to,” he choked out, knowing what he would say next would damn him to Hell. “He’s the one I’ve been giving information to about anyone not loyal to the crown. …He wants me to persuade Nate to send a coded message to George Washington that could be a turning point for the war in British favor.”
She didn’t respond.
“Then Duffy will arrest him and you, Daisy, and Charles and hang all of you.”
Her fist cocked. He prepared himself for her second punch to his gut by tightening his stomach muscles….
“Traitor!” she shouted.
Want more? You'll have to buy the book! Here are Susan's buy links and social contact information:
Buy Link For Desperate Hope:
Books are also available through my website – www.SusanLFurlong.com
Thank you, Susan, for being my guest today. Any comments or questions for Susan?