Today, I am very excited to welcome author Susan Anne Mason to Interviews & Reviews. Susan's debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. She is also a member of ACFW, Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. She can be found online at www.susanannemason.net.
Susan was also our Book of the Month winner for her latest book Best of Intentions (set in Canada) which she is going to talk about today. Plus, she is giving away a print copy to one lucky reader!
Susan, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
It isn't often one finds books from Bethany House set in Canada. How did that come about?
My first series with Bethany House, Courage to Dream, was set in Long Island, New York in the early 1910s. In the last book, Love’s Faithful Promise, my hero was a doctor from Toronto, Ontario, and so part of the book took place in Toronto, the other part in Long Island. When it came time for my next venture, my editors requested that I keep my setting in the US or Canada, so I decided since I had so much fun writing about Toronto, why not set my next series there? Luckily, the powers that be seemed to like the idea quite well!
I know I was thrilled! Since reading The Best of Intentions I was curious - were the Eastons vaguely based on the famous Eatons of Toronto?
You are good, Laura! Yes, the Eatons were my inspiration. I needed a wealthy family living in Toronto around that time, and of course, I thought of the Eaton family, founder of the Eatons Department stores (and the famous Eaton Centre in Toronto). But I wanted my fictional family to have made their money in the hotel industry, so I made up the Easton Towers Hotel.
What is the main message you hope your readers grasp in The Best of Intentions?
The main message was the idea of being true to oneself. Both Grace and Andrew struggle with this during the course of the book. Grace is so focused on pleasing her mother and winning her approval that Grace almost overlooks what is best for little Christian. And Andrew is trying to get out of his brother’s shadow and earn his father’s respect. Andrew forfeits his own dreams in order to live up to his father’s expectations. In the end, both Grace and Andrew have to come to the realization that they need to be following God’s will for their lives and be true to their own selves.
You have had several historical fiction books published, as well as contemporary romances. Which genre do you like to write the most?
That’s a tough question. I do love the historical genre, but it is challenging. All the time and research involved in getting the details correct can be daunting. But it’s bringing the other time periods to life that I find exciting. Still a small part of me can’t wait to get back to some contemporary stories that I have on the back (very far back) burner!
Not all your books are set in Canada, so do you have to travel a lot for research purposes?
Unfortunately, I have not done much travelling for research. I would love to one day take a trip to England to visit the places my ancestors lived. It was in doing research for my family that I got the inspiration for A Most Noble Heir.
However, my husband and I did travel to New York City for our 30th anniversary, and I was able to research some places for my book A Worthy Heart. My heroine Maggie was an organist who played for St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, so visiting that church was a big thrill. I also went to see a small firetruck museum because one of my characters was a fireman. It was fascinating to see the types of equipment they used back in 1914 in New York, and I was able to make my portrayal of the firefighters more realistic.
I love that! The second book in the Canadian Crossings series is set to come out in March. Can you tell us a little about it?
The Highest of Hopes is about Emmaline Moore, a girl from England who was raised by her grandparents, believing both her parents to be dead. When her grandfather passes away suddenly, she discovers a hidden packet of letters from her father in her grandad’s desk and learns that she is not an orphan after all. Her father has been alive all along and is living in Canada. She immediately sets off to find him, joined in her quest by her best friend, Jonathan Rowe. Jonathan is hiding a secret of his own — his true feelings for Emma. He hopes that during this shared adventure he can win her heart and convince her to come back to England with him. But with Emma determined to stay in Canada and get to know her father, Jonathan can’t see how this relationship will ever work.
Sounds exciting! I can't wait to read it. Finally, what is your favourite Scripture verse and why?
I love Jeremiah 29:11 — “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I also love Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Both of these verses give me great comfort and the hope that no matter what adversities I may be facing, God is right there with me, providing me with the strength to get through it.
Those are a couple of my favourites too! Thank you so much for stopping by Susan. And now, dear readers, if you would like to receive a copy of Susan's latest book, The Best of Intentions, just fill out the form below to enter. This contest is now closed.
Congratulations to Linda Krager! You are the lucky winner of The Best of Intentions!
In the aftermath of WWI, Grace Abernathy is determined to reunite with her family, crossing an ocean to convince her widowed sister to return home to England. Yet Toronto holds more tragedy and her nephew Christian is now in the custody of his paternal relatives, the formidable Easton family, who rejected Grace's sister because of her low social status.
Unconvinced the Eastons can be fitting caretakers, Grace jumps at the chance to be Christian's nanny and observe the family up close under an assumed name. In the course of her new position, she is shocked to discover herself falling for Andrew Easton, the boy's guardian. Unfortunately, Andrew is promised to a spoiled socialite who will make a terrible stepmother for Christian. Will Grace be able to protect her nephew . . . and her heart?