Sunday, October 9, 2011

Interview with Susan Page Davis - and giveaway of The Lady's Maid

Answer Susan's question to be entered into a chance to win The Lady's Maid. Be sure to include a way to contact you.

What kind of research did you do for The Lady’s Maid?

Starting with the opening scene, I had to do a lot of research on the British aristocracy, and the most critical plot point, the peerage. Anne’s father was an earl, and his title and estate are to be passed on. I THOUGHT I knew how that worked, but after emailing with a couple of very nice and knowledgeable people in England, I saw that I had it all wrong! So I had to adjust my story a little to make it authentic.

I also did a lot of new research on the Oregon Trail, although I’ve done other stories set along the trail. Things changed so rapidly back then, that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with “what was where when.”

How did you come up with the plot for The Lady’s Maid?

I knew my editor wanted a prairie setting. I had just researched a lot of information about royalty and aristocracy for my book Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, and I thought, what if an aristocrat joined a wagon train? I put two English ladies—or, more accurately, a lady and her maid—on the frontier, and it made for a fun story.

Share a brief blurb about the book.

The Lady’s Maid is the first book in my new Prairie Dreams historical romance series. Elise Finster accompanies her young British mistress, Lady Anne Stone, on a voyage to America in 1855. Lady Anne’s father has died, and her Uncle David is the new Earl of Stoneford—if he steps forward and claims the title. But David disappeared into the American West when Anne was a baby. Now it’s up to her and Elise to find him. They join a wagon train in Independence, Missouri, not realizing they’re leading a killer straight to David.

What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?

A few things in my books bear similarities to things that have happened to me or to people I know, but most of them are purely fictional. For instance, I once had a horse get stuck in a snow bank. That’s a very small thing, but it might find its way into a story. My sisters and I are quite close, and I tried to bring this feeling into my suspense novel, Witness, but the story itself has nothing to do with real life. My major plot points are not autobiographical.

Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?

I don’t exactly avoid it, but usually I can think up things that are a lot more interesting.

What are your own favorite authors? Genres?

I’m an eclectic reader. For true history, I like Nathaniel Philbrick’s books. For mystery, I love Dick Francis and Ellis Peters. In my “to be read” stack right now are books by Christian authors Tracie Peterson, Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, M. L. Tyndall, and Austin Boyd. I also like to read classics now and then. I love discovering a “new” old writer. And I like to read authors who were a generation or two ahead of me, like Janice Holt Giles, Dorothy Sayers, or Elizabeth Cadell.

How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?

All writers should read widely. I don’t think I’d have a lot to say if I’d never read books.

Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?

These days, I am a full time writer. I have a home office, which is a major blessing. I am able to go in there every morning and start work whenever I want, usually six or seven a.m. By seven p.m., I’m ready to crash. Of course, I take some breaks in between.

I generally begin a new book with research and an outline. Then I make a writing calendar, roughing out what I expect I need to accomplish each day, each week, and so on, until the deadline. I like to write for several hours a day, but I also have a lot of writing-related tasks. Those go on my calendar too, so I make sure they are done on time.

What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?

I like to take breaks during the day to talk to my husband and my daughter, who is a college freshman this year and living at home. I also go out at least once a day, usually more. And I call or email with other writer friends. They and my sisters never fail to encourage me.

How have social networking sites, even including email, etc. impacted your writing? Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?

Email is huge. I get about 200 a day, and I have to be ruthless or it would take over my life. I’ve disconnected from a couple of “loops” because they ate my time. For this reason, I am very picky what organizations I join. I have a FaceBook page, but I don’t maintain it. My husband and my oldest daughter do. If someone posts a comment that I want to answer, I have to give my reply to them to post. I have no profile and cannot go on FB if I want to. That’s because I know that if I did, I would probably lose an hour or so a day, and I don’t have that kind of free time right now. The Internet is a blessing, but one that must be kept caged.

Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?

No, I really don’t use it for that. Of course, I notice things that happen in my online relationships. But that is not my focus for using the computer. I use email, online chat, etc., as a way to communicate efficiently. Period. If it stops being useful, I’ll stop doing that. One of the most difficult things for me now is guarding my work time.

Share a bio and pictures of the book and yourself as well.
Susan Page Davis is the author of thirty-seven published novels. Prairie Dreams is her new series from Barbour Publishing. A Maine native, Susan now lives in Kentucky with her husband, Jim. They have six children and eight grandchildren. She’s a past winner of the Carol Award and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest. Come visit at: . Feel free to contact Susan through her site’s email.

Ask a question for the readers to answer to be entered into the giveaway
What is the most creative way you can of to use a hatpin?


Margaret said...

At the moment I am using one to hold up a wire which is holding my curtain to the window. They are inserted to the wall for the time being until we re drywall around the window as we installed a smaller window then what was there originally. Thanks for the giveaway!


Judy said...

It works well for pinning on a corsage! Trust me!!

I would love to win a copy of The Lady's Maid. This book sounds very interesting!

Judy B


CarlybirdK said...

Goodness. That is a great, but difficult question for me to answer. I am not in the slightest bit creative and I don't own a single hatpin. I do love them though. They are so pretty. If I did have some, I think I would just use them to decorate my vanity. Every girl's vanity needs to have some pretty and whimsy in addition to function! Thank you for the giveaway.

wfnren said...

Oh my, you are testing us this time. You could use it to 'pin' 2 peices of paper together. I know, not real creative, but the best I can do off the top of my head.

Thank you for hosting the giveaway.


Jen said...

I honestly would have no idea how to even use a hatpin to put on a hat and I so do not even own one. But I am sure if I had one I could find some way to use it as decoration or add it to a craft project.


Jen said...

I honestly would have no idea how to even use a hatpin to put on a hat and I so do not even own one. But I am sure if I had one I could find some way to use it as decoration or add it to a craft project.


Beth said...

Hmm..I'm not sure how clever this is, but I have some antique hatpins that I just have in a small glass vase on my dresser...the tops are so pretty, made out of some type of glass. I like the vintage look that they give my room :)

This book sounds delightful! An informative interview as well, thank you Laura and Susan!


Rick said...

a hatpin? Do they still make them? Putting on corsages is the only use I had for them.

by Pegg Thomas said...

I have never owned a hat pin in my life, but I have seen one used on a scrapbook page. Now that's creative!
Thanks for entering me.
twinwillowsfarm at gmail dot com

Cara Putman said...

Hatpins just look plain painful :-) But I don't even like baseball caps. Love Susan's writing.

Cara at caraputman dot com

Patricia said...

I know that win hats were popular they would remove the hat pin and use it as a weapon against unwanted aggressive men.
Thanks for the giveaway the book is already on my TBR list.

Patricia aka Mamaw

plb1050 at gmail dot com

lollipops said...

Help! Laura, I'm traveling and have tried and tried to comment on the post, but can't. Could you possibly post this for me? Thanks!

We are getting some wonderful answers and ideas for that extra hat pin you all have lying around. I have one that was handed down in my husband's family and has what looks like a beehive on the end, somewhat egg-shaped. I am told that Mormon women wore this design, and he did indeed have ancestors who made the westward trek with the Mormons in the 1850s. Great to see you all here!

karenk said...

i, too, am using a hairpin to hold together the top center of my living room works very well :)

thanks for the chance to read susan's latest novel.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Melanie Ski said...

Getting out a sliver :)
Not overly creative, but would work
sounds like a great book, a lot of research went into it. I love that!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of "The Lady's Maid".
I received a hat pin from a friend met on our short term mission trip to Ukraine. It came with a fabric butterfly and is used to hang the butterfly on my curtains.

smoore at tcq dot net

jewels67 said...

What a great interview I would love the opportunity to read and review "The Lady's Maid" .. Your question on Hat Pin's I put them on my purses to add some jazz to them... We used to trade our hat pins as well, my great grandmother's hat pins are tucked away safe and sound as they are very precious to me. I just find hat pins at the thrift stores and if they are pretty I buy them and use those to decorate my purse or scarf... :)

Anonymous said...

I like to use them for decorations, especially the older, ornate ones. You can use them in a flower arrangement, as a decoration in a pillow (If you snip off the pokey end, ha!

srstormo at yahoo dot com

Anne Payne said...

The books sounds like it will be a fun adventure.

I use hatpins on my handmade cards. They make lovely additions to achieve a vintage flair!


Amber said...

What a awesome interview , I love the sound of this book as well it sounds like a great read !! And id love the chance to read it !! As for your question what uses could be done with hat pins , I am a avid paper crafter for both cards and scrapbook pages and ive seen them used on them and done in a very beautiful way not only that you could always use them in home decor projects picture frames or even on home made dolls

Thanks for the chance to win your book have a blessed and wonderful day


eyeballlucy said...

Well a hatpin has many use...such as securing a hat to the wearer's head...and also could be used if a button popped off your blouse or could also be used to keep a skirt from blowing open if it had a slit in the side...and it could also be used as a weapon to protect a lady too.....would love to win a copy of The Lady's Maid by Susan Page

Aly Logan said...

To anchor a necklace to a bulletin board.


Gwendolyn Gage said...

Turn them into earrings, ha ha! :-) I would love to read "The Lady's Maid".

gwen dot gage at gmail dot com

The Smith Family said...

maybe just displayed on a memory board, or kind of used like a push you can enjoy it all the time.


marcandlorie at embarqmail dot com

Susan Page Davis said...

Great answers! I came earlier to post about the antique hat pin I have that was passed down in my husband's family, but the post never made it through cyberspace. Sorry about that! I love reading all your ideas.

Loraine Ertelt said...

Great decorative way to hold tiebacks on shower curtains to the wall in your bathroom!

Loraine Ertelt

Carol Moncado said...

How fun! Love the storyline on this one! I'd love a chance to win!

carolmoncado at gmail dot com