Sunday Dinner with Linda Shenton Matchett

Sunday Dinner

For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Linda Shenton Matchett. Linda writes about ordinary people who did ordinary things in days gone by. A Human Resources professional by day, she is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII during her off hours.

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, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.

My husband and I moved from the Washington, DC area to central New Hampshire and operated a 7-room bed and breakfast for twelve years. (Talk about character inspiration!)

Can you tell us about your latest novel?

Beryl’s Bounty Hunter

Can a thief and a lawman find happiness?

Orphaned as a child, Beryl Atherton has lived on the streets of London as long as she can remember. Reduced to stealing for survival, she is arrested. During her incarceration one of her cellmates shows her a newspaper ad for an American mail-order bride agency. But all is not as it seems, and moments after landing in Boston, she must run for her life. Will things be no different for her in the New World?

Working as a bounty hunter since The War Between the States, Lucas Wolf  just needs a few more cases before he can hang up his gun, purchase a ranch out West, and apply for a mail-order bride from the Westward Home & Hearts Mail-Order Bride Agency. While staking out the docks in Boston, he sees a woman fleeing from the man he’s been tailing. Saving her risks his job. Not saving her risks his heart.

Why did you choose to write a story set in Boston?

I live about two hours outside of Boston and have always been fascinated by the vast history connected to the city. Many up here refer to it as the “cradle of American democracy.” My book is set about 100 years after the American Revolution, and by then the population was already at a quarter million people. I wanted to contrast Beryl’s experience of living in a large city (she’s originally from London before coming to Boston) with moving to a tiny town in Wyoming.

Have you lived in or visited Boston? What research was required to set a book there in the 1875?

I have visited Boston on numerous occasions as well as the surrounding areas such as Lexington and Concord. For my research, I studied census information so I could understand the demographic make-up of the population, read excerpts from diaries, and dug into textbooks and websites about law enforcement of the times (from town police forces to the Pinkertons to bounty hunters.) In 1873, the US supreme court determined in Taylor vs. Taintor that bounty hunters were part of the US law enforcement system, not independent contractors like I thought before beginning my research.

One of your main characters is a bounty hunter. Can you tell us more about your research into that profession?

Fortunately, law enforcement has fascinated people throughout history, so there is lots of information about the topic. The challenge is separating fact from fiction. Like with “fish stories,” some of the accounts of early sheriffs and bounty hunters were embellished. But on the other hand, there is a reason the West is referred to as “wild,” and men and women lived by their wits and their weapons. Some of the more famous bounty hunters include Pat Garrett who was tasked with tracking down Billy the Kid (an old friend) and Thomas Tate Tobin who was supposed to take fifteen men with him to capture the Espinosas. Instead, he went out alone and killed the trio.

What is different about being a bounty hunter today versus in the late 1800s?

In the 1800s, bounty hunters weren’t required to bring their fugitives back alive. That’s certainly not the case now. However, it is still a dangerous job. Most fugitives will do whatever it takes to elude capture. As one site put it: bounty hunters are more private investigator than lawman as they spend lots of time talking to the fugitive’s family and friends to figure out where he or she might be.

Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?

As mentioned previously, law enforcement has enamored people through the ages, there is lots of source material. My favorite is a toss-up between newspaper articles that trumpeted the heroics of the bounty hunter to the diaries of these men.

What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?

Many sheriffs, deputies, and bounty hunters were outlaws themselves before changing careers to the right side of the law.

Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?

I’m currently working on Francine’s Foibles, a WWII romance that is part of the multi-author project Thanksgiving Books and Blessings. Francine was a secondary character in last year’s TB&B novella, Estelle’s Endeavor. Here’s the blurb: 

    World War II is finally over, so America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

    Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation American Adam Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

    Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

    Reviews are important to authors as they affect those mysterious algorithms on book purchasing sites. So, please considering leaving a review on one or more sites. The review doesn’t have to be long, one or two sentences is fine.

    The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Linda, thank you for joining us today!

    If readers would like to purchase a copy of Beryl’s Bounty Hunter where might they be able to do so?

    Beryl is releasing July 14th, but is available for pre-order here.

    If you want to be kept informed about my book releases, including Beryl’s Bounty Hunter, head to my website and sign up for my newsletter. As a bonus, you’ll receive a free short story.

    If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?

    If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
    Website/Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | BookBub | Goodreads

    We’ll be off next week for US Independence Day Weekend. In two weeks, Shannon McNear will join us to talk about her latest historical novel. See you then!

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