Captain Niall McLane survives brutal captivity and a bloody revolution only to face a darker threat to his future with the woman he loves. When Niall becomes a suspect in a grotesque murder, his reputation as a merciless Indian fighter and scalp hunter turns public opinion against him. Worse, the real killer has only begun to rampage, his sights set on those close to Niall. Now the hunt for evil is on. Niall’s only allies are Andrew Wade, a hopeless drunkard tormented by his own cowardice, and Andrew’s young wife, Clarice, whom Niall secretly adores. After another murder occurs, Niall manages to stay out of jail, but can he protect Clarice from the formidable creature prowling in their midst? From the mysterious forests of Kentucky to a graceful Virginia plantation, from the fevered heat of battle to the hope and struggle for renewal, ‘A Devil of a Time’ weaves a tale of courage, betrayal and forbidden love, of three men grappling with the demons of their past, and the remarkable woman destined to change all their lives forever.
Can our hero grapple with the demons of his past? Gretchen Jeannette, author of ‘A Devil of a Time’ has kindly joined me to chat today about the challenges of Captain Niall McLane’s journey within this historical romance. Gretchen thanks for taking the readers and I on a guided tour of this historical American landscape. One of the main comments that pop up in the reviews for your book is about the depth and quality of the characters. How did you get these characters come to life?
The hero is based on a composite of actual historical figures. Other characters in the story were drawn from people I’ve known. I begin by creating a foundation for each character. From there I expand his or her personality by fleshing out back-story details. Before all is said and done, I am literally living in the character’s mind to “hear” what he or she might think or say.
Living directly in a character’s mind must really speed up the pace of the writing. How have you used research to make sure that that the thoughts in the character’s minds were accurate for the time period they live in?
The story is based on a lifetime of researching Colonial America and the American Revolution. Growing up in an area rich in Revolutionary War history, I developed a fascination with the people and lifestyles of the era.
What was one of the biggest things that you learnt from your fascination?
I’ve learned to use an etymology dictionary to help authentic dialogue. For instance, a character from the 18th Century would never use the greeting “Hello.” That word wasn’t used until the telephone was invented, and yet it appears erroneously in so many books.
*Laughs* Anachronistic details really do make a mess of an otherwise good novel, but I’m glad to hear that you’re on the watch for them cropping up within your own work. Other than keeping the future out of the past, what did you find the most rewarding aspect of writing this novel?
The reward came when I finally uploaded the book for publication. After years of developing characters, honing historical details and working the plot to a fare-thee-well, hitting that “submit” button left me not only awestruck but immensely relieved.
I’m glad to hear that there was some awe in there along with that relief. And one thing I’ve learnt about authors is that that awe generally leads to more books. So can you tell us what you are currently working on?
I’m currently writing a third historical fiction novel set in 18th Century America. I hope to complete it by the end of this year.
Good luck with your progress on that third novel, and I hope you make your end of year deadline! Other than the awe and relief of pushing that ‘Submit’ button, what pulls you back to writing new novels?
Because I can’t stop–because the blank page keeps calling to me–because I hope to bring readers an enjoyable experience that will stay with them after the last page is turned. Mostly, I write for those who enjoy reading fiction. If I can transport a reader to another time and place and help them forget the strain of everyday life, then I have succeeded in my goal.
How do you approach the writing process to make sure you succeed and reach that goal of transporting readers away from their day-to-day life?
When I begin a book, I have only a general idea of how it will end. Sometimes the characters help write the story. I’ve often been pleasantly surprised when my hero or heroine takes the plot in an unforeseen direction that adds a whole new dimension to the story.
How do you make sure you keep track of the characters within their world before they run off in those unforseen directions?
I keep a notebook handy at all times, to jot down ideas, revisions, research questions. Writing is a never-ending process.
How do you tackle this never-ending process without being overwhelmed?
I try to write every day, but that isn’t always possible. I create my own book covers, so I’ve had to learn graphics programs–PhotoShop, Paint.net, PowerPoint, etc. I also spend an incredible amount of time proofreading, editing and researching historical details for accuracy. Finding time to actually write can be a struggle, especially as I also work a full-time job.
What do you think is your best tip for other authors who are also struggling to balance a full-time job with writing?
Think less about book sales and more about writing, writing, writing. You can’t sell what you haven’t written.
*Laughs* That’s so true, and I think that sometimes authors forget that their story needs to be done on paper, either physical or digital to allow someone else to read it! Finally, can you leave us with your favourite quote from an author that you admire and has imparted great wisdom on you?
“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” Aldous Huxley.
Gretchen, I hope that you have learnt more than most from the lessons of history. Thank you for joining us and I hope that you are able to continue to transport readers back in time with ‘A Devil of a Time’ and your future historical fiction novels.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘A Devil of a Time ( ASIN: B00ORJ8ZKW )‘.
Want to find out more about Gretchen Jeannette? Connect here!