I came to fiction writing later in life. After many years as a news correspondent, I seriously began writing fiction at about age 45. It was a joy to see my first book published when I was 50. I now have more than 40 novels and novellas published. I grew up in Maine and lived there most of my life, though I spent time in Oregon, North Carolina, New York, and now live in Kentucky. I have six children, several of whom are also writers, and eight adorable grandchildren.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
I wrote lots of stories as a child, but got more into nonfiction as an adult. But I still have some of those early “books” I wrote. I think Marooned on an Island was my first one, hand written on yellow paper cut in small sheets and stapled together when I was about 9. I would now classify that was a romantic suspense book. The Mystery at Cavaltren Ski Lodge was more of a classic-style mystery. Lieutenant Annie was a historical romance with a cavalry setting. Now I laugh, because my published books have titles like Frasier Island (romantic suspense); Homicide at Blue Heron Lake (cozy mystery); and Protecting Amy (historical romance with a cavalry setting). Do you see a pattern here?
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
I write Christian fiction because my faith is woven tightly in my life, and whatever I write will reflect that. Even stories that are not overtly “Christian” – like Mailbox Mayhem and my children’s fantasy, Feather, reflect my values. You will never find explicit sex or foul language in my books. I write mystery and suspense because I love to read those, and I love puzzles. I write historical fiction because I’m intrigued by the past and its effect on us.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
Connecting with other people in the writing/publishing world was hard for me at first. I felt isolated in Central Maine. But the Internet is a huge blessing. I now belong to several online groups for writers, and I’ve been able to attend conferences and meet hundreds of other authors, as well as agents, editors, and other publishing professionals.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
Yes, I spend a lot more time at my desk now than I did before I wrote fiction. I have fewer social outings, and I’ve laid aside several hobbies. On the positive side, I’ve met wonderful people in the publishing world, and the Lord has allowed me to work at home, something I consider a real blessing. I also enjoy research and the idea that I’m constantly learning new things.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 2:1)
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
I truly love Van Reid’s Moosepath League series, set in 1890s Maine.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Climbing to the top of a parking garage to look for a sniper’s vantage point.
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Please tell us about the featured book. By the way, your cover is very lovely.
Julia Newman heads home to her Arizona mountain town on one of the last surviving stagecoaches. Instead of a happy reunion with her brother, she is treated to a holdup. The man investigating the robbery is Deputy Sheriff Adam Scott—whose marriage proposal Julia turned down two years ago. Now Adam thinks her brother Oliver is mixed up in the robbery. Julia knows better, but when she arrives home, Oliver is nowhere to be found. She knows she must locate him before Adam—or the lynch mob—does. A cryptic message from Oliver sends Julia riding across the high desert to find him.
Can you please give us the first page?
She couldn’t have Arizona unless she shared it with Adam Scott. That was horribly unfair.
The stagecoach rolled out of Flagstaff, and Julia Newman leaned eagerly toward the window to see every landmark along the dusty road toward Ardell, the tiny mining town she thought of as home. Some would call this land bleak and unforgiving, but Julia loved Arizona. She’d longed for it during her two years away.
She ignored the three male passengers for nearly an hour. She’d already appraised them and dismissed them, having pegged them as a businessman, a rancher, and a miner. Harmless, but uninteresting compared to the scenery rolling by.
When they came within two miles of the town, the road climbed steadily. Not long now. Would her brother, Oliver, be waiting when she stepped down from the coach?
Julia drank in the cloudless sky, so perfect and so vibrantly blue in the dry, cool land. She anticipated each vista, watching for the huge rocks that stuck up out of the earth without warning, and the low plants that managed to grow in the harsh climate of the high desert. This was home.
Unfortunately, it was also Deputy Sheriff Adam Scott’s home—but she wouldn’t think about him until she was forced to.
The wind tugged at her hair until she was afraid it would pull her hat right off and fling it across the chaparral. With reluctance, she withdrew her head from the open window and set about fixing her hatpins more firmly.
The man sitting on the seat opposite her made no pretense of looking elsewhere. He had the mien of an investor, going up to see Mr. Gerry at the mine. That or a banker, which she couldn’t imagine up here in the mountains, but he was too well dressed for most of the occupations common in Ardell. He watched her with a smile on his lips. Julia avoided making direct eye contact. Had he been staring at her the whole way? She oughtn’t to be grooming her hair in the presence of gentlemen, but she didn’t want to lose her hat, and she didn’t want to forgo the view, either.
One of the two other men sat beside her—a rancher who must have come to the area since she’d been away to teach school in Philadelphia. The other sat in the far corner, on the seat with the banker type. Dressed in a flannel shirt and denim pants, the bearded man had slumped in the corner as soon as the coach door was closed, then shut his eyes, opened his mouth, and commenced snoring. Julia figured he was probably employed by the High Desert Mine, where Oliver was employed as the bookkeeper.
A shout from outside caught her attention.
“Whoa, now! Whoa.”
The stagecoach slowed, and the man across from her peered out the window. Julia tried to suppress her annoyance. She didn’t want to waste a minute getting home. But the driver, Chick Lundy, sounded as calm as ever, so she relaxed and finished pushing in a hatpin.
A gunshot exploded, outside but a short distance away, and the man jerked back from the window. Julia’s pulse caught and then raced. Another gunshot sounded, right over their heads. The rancher tensed and pulled out a revolver.
The bearded miner sat up, blinking. “What’s going on?”
A couple more muffled shouts reached them but Julia couldn’t make out the words. She didn’t think they came from Chick or his shotgun rider, Bub Hilliard. The voice sounded farther away than that. The coach came to a halt.
She was about to ask the man opposite if he could see anything when someone outside yelled, “Throw down the guns!” The well-dressed passenger reached inside his jacket and pulled out a compact but lethal-looking pistol.
Julia sucked in a breath as her heart galloped on at full speed. She grabbed her handbag. One thing she’d learned, living in a mining town: Don’t ride the stage unarmed. Still, she hadn’t expected this today. She’d imagined that Ardell was more civilized by now. It seemed she was mistaken. She drew out her weapon and tucked it discreetly in the folds of her skirt.
Ohh! Almost Arizona sounds like a wonderful book. Great opening page. Thank you again for being here, Susan! To learn more about Susan you can visit her website: www.susanpagedavis.com
Susan has kindly offered to giveaway a print copy of her book Almost Arizona. Just leave an encouraging comment for Susan with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
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