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.
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?
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.