For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Susan G. Mathis, an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado … Susan, please introduce yourself and share something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I’m Susan G. Mathis, an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, my childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. I’ve been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. I’m also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. I live in Colorado Springs and enjoy traveling around the world but return each summer to enjoy the Thousand Islands.
Your next book, Peyton’s Promise, book 3 in the Thousand Islands Gilded Age Series, released in May from Iron Stream Media. Can you tell us about it?
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 of 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.
Peyton takes over for her father in his pyrotechnic work. Can you tell us how and why you chose that industry?
The story line is true. The Emerys, owners of Calumet Castle, actually did have a Grand Ball with a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala and fireworks. During this time, fireworks were often used in celebrations, so I wanted to explore that. And because women’s suffrage was also prominent during this time, a woman taking over this kind of job was scandalous.
What research was required to make her story authentic? How did the historical nature of the story affect that research?
In the 1980s I had the privilege of staying on Calumet Island when it was a bed and breakfast. My time there was so inspiring that I knew I had to write a story about it one day. Then, last summer, the caretaker graciously brought me over to the island for an afternoon of touring it, hearing stories, and recapturing the essence of the island.
I’m also grateful for Toujours Jeune: AlwaysYoung by Rex Ennis, a fine piece of non-fiction about the Emery’s, Calumet Island, and the castle. The many historical details helped make Peyton’s Promise accurate and interesting.
Were resources easy or difficult to find? Do you have a favorite resource?
Goodness! I love researching, and there are lots of resources out there. I’m also blessed to have the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association read through all my stories for historical accuracy. If she sees a jot or tittle in error, she lets me know!
How has pyrotechnics changed from 1902, when Peyton’s Promise is set, and today? What are some of the (major) differences?
As I was writing Peyton’s Promise, I connected with the country’s leading pyrotechnics historian. He read through all my fireworks parts and corrected anything out of that time period. How wonderful is that? The major difference between then and now is that we now use computers to put on the shows.
What was your favorite nugget of research that did not make it into the story?
While I was writing my story, I posted questions on a Thousand Islands Facebook page where I connected with lots of people who stayed on or visited Calumet Island. I added their stories and tidbits to my story including a hidden cache of wine, a gemstone imbedded in the sidewalk, stories about greenies, and so much more.
What do you wish readers knew about the historic side of pyrotechnics?
I sprinkled so much of the history of fireworks in my story. You want to know more? You’ll have to read Peyton’s Promise. *Smiles.*
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I just finished writing Mary’s Moment that should release next Spring.
Mary Flynn is christened the community heroine for calling in a fire and saving dozens of homes. As the first telephone switchboard operator for the Columbian Hotel, she basks in her fame but hides a secret that haunts her. Less than a month later, Mary must risk her life to call for help when an even worse fire blazes through the Thousand Islands Park Commons.
Widowed fireman George Flannigan is enamored by the brave, raven-haired lass and takes every opportunity to connect with Mary, even putting in a phone line at great expense. But he has secrets of his own, and when he can’t stop the Columbian Hotel—and more than a hundred cottages—from being burned to the ground, Mary is left homeless and jobless, and she blames him. Will she be consumed by her painful past or embrace the future? Will he?
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Susan, thank you for joining us! If readers would like to purchase a copy of Peyton’s Promise where might they be able to do so? Lighthouse Publishing or Amazon.
And if readers would like to learn about you or your other books, including past books in the Thousand Islands Gilded Age Series, how might they find you online?
I have seven in my 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, and Colleen’s Confession. My newest, Peyton’s Promise just came out, and Rachel’s Reunion releases in October. I just finished book ten, Mary’s Moment. My 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.
You can find them all at www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction.
Over Sunday Dinner next week contemporary romance author Belle Calhoune will be joining us. See you then!