Rachel’s Reunion ~Another 1000 Islands story by Susan Mathis

Susan, please tell us a little about your writing background, please.

I’ve been teaching writing, editing, and writing most of my life. I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage with an Indonesian and Spanish version, and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, has helped thousands of couples prepare for marriage. I’m also the author of two picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Moreover, I’m published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. I’ve also several hundred magazine and newsletter articles.

But when I started writing fiction… I was hooked! My imagination has become my playground and the characters my friends. I love the challenge, the freedom, the fun of creating with the Creator. But…I only tell that to those who love fiction—or they might lock me up as a crazy person. Smiles.

Why do you write about the Gilded Age?

The American Gilded Age (from about 1870-1910) was a time of rapid technical advances, industrialization, and thousands of new inventions. Mark Twain coined the term in his 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today which satirized the era of social problems that were masked by a layer of thin, gold gilding. It’s a fascinating time in history, especially in the Thousand Islands.

All of my books are set during the Thousand Islands Gilded Age when the wealthy came and scooped up the islands and built lavish summer homes, mansions, and castles. It was an era of economic growth. Since wages were higher than in Europe, massive immigration drew about twenty million to the U.S. shores.

Unfortunately, it was also a time of unequal distribution of wealth where the rich got richer and the poor working class suffered. Many young women worked as servants until they married, and that’s what my stories are about—those nameless, faithful women who cooked and cleaned and served tables for the rich and famous. These “downstairs” women had fascinating stories to tell, and I plan to tell many of them.

During the Gilded Age, America led the world in innovation. A half-million patents were issued for new inventions including hundreds by Thomas Edison, Westinghouse, and others. Thanks to inventions such as the delivery of electric power, the world became lighter, safer, more convenient and comfortable, and all around better.

So, this is why I write Thousand Islands Gilded Age stories. To share the rich heritage this era gave us and better understand what it was like.

What kind of research did you do for Rachel’s Reunion?

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands, so I spent every summer and more exploring the beautiful region. I’ve stayed on several of the islands and camped and rented cottages there. So, after I wrote my debut novel about the largest island, Wolfe Island, I was hooked. There are so many fascinating stories to tell.

Now, I take an annual Thousand Islands Book Tour to the islands where I meet with fans, friends, and family. I’ve stayed in Singer Castle, Casa Blanca, and other places that are the settings of my book. I’ve talked with the owners of the islands, local historians, and researched in the Thousand Islands archives.

All my novels are based on a specific place in the Thousand Islands and the true stories of the owners of that island. So, my plot is generally true. Then I overlay the storyline of the fictional servants to create the story. This makes my stories a bit more challenging, but I love a good challenge.

About Rachel’s Reunion:

Summer 1904

Rachel Kelly serves the most elite patrons at the famed New Frontenac Hotel on Round Island. She has wondered about her old beau, Mitch, for nearly two years, ever since he toyed with her affections while on Calumet Island, then left for the high seas and taken her heart with him. Now he’s back, opening the wound she thought was healed.

Mitch O’Keefe returns to claim his bride but finds it more difficult than he thought. Returning to work at the very place he hated, he becomes captain of a New Frontenac Hotel touring yacht, just to be near Rachel. But his attempts to win her back are thwarted, especially when a wealthy patron seeks her attention. Who will Rachel choose?

About Susan:

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. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has nine 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, Colleen’s Confession, and Peyton’s Promise. Rachel’s Reunion releases October 20, 2022. She just finished writing 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.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to enjoy the Thousand Islands.

Visit www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction for more.

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Meet Susan Mathis, author of Peyton’s Promise

Susan Mathis has another charming story,  Peyton’s Promise, set in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River.

Please tell us about your writing journey, Susan.

I’ve been teaching writing, editing, or writing most of my life. I taught language arts for nine years, and before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage with an Indonesian and Spanish version, and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, both have helped thousands of couples prepare for marriage. I’m also the author of two picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Moreover, I’m published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. I’ve also several hundred magazine and newsletter articles. But then I started writing fiction…and I’m hooked!

What motivated you to set your stories in the Thousand Islands area?

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands, so I spent every summer and more exploring the beautiful region. I’ve stayed on several of the islands and camped and rented cottages there. So, after I wrote my debut novel about the largest island, Wolfe Island, I was hooked. There are so many fascinating stories to tell.

Please tell us a little more about the story.

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 as an 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.

It’s obvious you researched a great deal for this story. Please share about that.

I LOVE researching! There’s a lot of information in Peyton’s Promise about the women’s suffrage movement and upholstery work. But I really enjoyed researching fireworks—how they’re made, how they’re shot off, etc. I connected with the leading fireworks historical and gleaned lots of great information I sprinkled into the story. I’ll never view another fireworks show the same.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

All of my stories have the central theme of hope and redemption. Peyton’s Promise also explores forgiveness.

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Peyton’s Promise?

Yes, every book I write is a journey of healing and hope, and this one was no different. Patrick’s journey of forgiving his father paralleled my journey of forgiving my stepdad.

Where can readers find your books?

You can find links to all my books and more on my website: https://www.susangmathis.com/fiction-books/

Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/peytons-promise/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Peytons-Promise-Thousand-Islands-Guilded/dp/1645263444

Barnes&Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/peytons-promise-susan-g-mathis/1139839195?ean=9781645263449