Susan G. Mathis is a multi-published author in fiction and non-fiction. Before she jumped into the fiction world, she served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and was the Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. Susan’s first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with her husband, Dale. Her new fiction series is set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY.
Susan is vice president of Christian Authors Network (CAN), and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the Association of Women Speakers & Authors (AWSA), and Evangelical Press Association (EPA). For over twenty years, she has been a speaker at writers conferences, teachers conventions, writing groups, and other organizational gatherings.
Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs with her husband, Dale.
Your new book Katelyn’s Choice (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, March 2019) is the first in your Thousand Islands Series. The Thousand Islands sounds like an intriguing setting for a story. Please tell us a bit about it and why you chose it.
I grew up just seventeen miles from the Thousand Islands and spent lots of my summers there. The Thousand Islands Gilded Age is full of wonderful islands and characters like George Pullman, Frederick Bourne, and hundred of famous people like J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt and others. So I aim to tell at least some of them.
The Thousand Islands Gilded Age begins in 1872 when George Pullman invited President Grant to his island for a vacation. After this, the rich and famous bought islands and built grand castles, mansions, and elegant cottages. Think of it as a Downton Abbey meets the St. Lawrence River.
I fell in love with the Thousand Islands as a young girl, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that I felt inspired to write The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series. By then I had completed my debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, a story set partially on the largest island, Wolfe Island, Canada. Christmas Charity is also set in the Thousand Islands.
A few years ago my husband and I visited Wolfe Island, Pullman Island, and Singer Castle on Dark Island. We met some wonderful people who kept the intriguing Thousand Island history deep in their hearts, and I gleaned all kinds of valuable information and made special friends in the process. My historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and a Thousand Islands author herself. Seeing and experiencing the area as I wrote made my writing come to life, and my historical editor keeps the history accurate.
What do you most hope that readers will take away from the story?
Through Katelyn’s journey we see the power of the tongue to hurt or harm, bring life or death, pain or joy. And in my stories we always experience redemption.
I also include Irish characters and tea, since I’m Irish and love tea! But faith, hope, and love are reoccurring themes in my stories.
Just as great novels include a plot twist to make the story better, we often experience real life “plot twists” that make our lives better. Has that happened to you recently?
Huh…had to ponder this one. I’d have to say my new plot twist is dealing with my husband’s Parkinson’s related dementia. It’s a challenge to not get frustrated when he loses things or can’t remember something, so I have to find grace and lots of patience for this new ‘divine detour’.
You’re a prolific writer. Do you have a daily writing routine? What’s your biggest obstacle to writing?
Both of my novels took about six months to write. Generally, I write for six or seven hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do editing, planning, marketing, and other stuff on the other days. My biggest obstacle to writing is finding the time to get it out of my head and onto my computer, so I try and keep those two days sacred. I have too many ideas for one lifetime.
And for fun… what are you currently reading?
Right now I’m going through the edits for two of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series comes to life in Devyn’s Dilemma. It’ll release in April 2020. Here’s the summary of the story: Twenty-year-old Devyn McKenna is nervous about working on Dark Island in the imposing Castle called the Towers, a 28-room structure complete with dungeons, underground passageways, and castle secrets. Devyn struggles to find the self-confidence she needs to carry out her duties as a housemaid in the summer home of the wealthy president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Frederick Bourne. As she serves the likes of Brig. Gen. Cornelius Vanderbuilt III and others, her curiosity for learning grows. But when she is accused of stealing his plans for expanding the NYC subway and learns her brother ‘borrowed’ the plans and the man she loves believes she was the culprit, her faith is tested like never before.
Thank you, Susan! It’s great to have back at Divine Detour.
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