Christmas Charity is loosely based on my family story—my great grandparents, Susan and Patrick, although naughty little Lizzy is a creation of my imagination. Ten-year-old Susan from my debut novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, is twenty-three and unexpectedly marries Patrick, a forty-nine year old widower. So yes, not only is Patrick’s kind personality similar to my husband’s, but also my family story and traits are woven into the story.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My husband and I went to
the partial setting for both The Fabric
of Hope and Christmas Charity where we met several cousins we didn’t know I
had and heard stories that made both of these books extra special. Wolfe Island, Canada
I love stories based on actual lives, even fictionalized. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My journey has been multi-faceted. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path. As a Tyndale published author of two premarital books—The ReMarriage Adventure and Countdown for Couples, two children’s picture books—Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya: Love is Patient and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure—and I’m focusing on historical fiction set in my childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands in upstate New York, so my writing life has been a diverse one.
My first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, my Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and my novellas take readers to a time and place few have gone. But before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the founding editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former editor/editorial director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. Moreover, I’m published in various book compilations including three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. I’ve also written hundreds of magazine and newsletter articles, so yup, writing is in my blood.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy reading everything from children’s picture books to nonfiction to contemporary and historical fiction. But if I had to choose, I’d settle in with Christian historical romance and that’s what I’m writing from now on. Smiles.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
It may sound like a pat answer, but taking time to pray, read the word, and worship keep me in balance. I especially enjoy worship music while doing mindless work such as cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
The characters are the actual names of my ancestors, except Lizzy.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Although I am so humbled to have accomplished such diverse published works, I’m most thrilled to have my family legacy in print. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy has been a work of the heart, mind, and emotions.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A butterfly. Because I’d experience the miracle of changing from a caterpillar to a free and beautiful butterfly and flit around my world, dancing on flowers and bringing joy to all who see.
What is your favorite food?
Being Irish, I consider tea as my comfort drink, and with it, the Irish Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake sounds really good right now.
Sounds to me, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Switching from nonfiction to fiction was a steep learning curve. Coming from the succinct world of journalism and editing, spilling lots of description to “show vs tell” was my biggest challenge. But once I “got it,” I was a bird set free!
Susan Hawkins and Patrick O’Neill find that an arranged marriage is much harder than they think, especially when they emigrate from
Wolfe Island, Canada,
to , in 1864, just a week after they
marry—with Patrick’s ten-year-old daughter, Lizzy, in tow. Can
twenty-three-year-old Susan Hawkins learn to love her forty-nine-year-old
husband and find charity for her angry stepdaughter? Cape Vincent, New York
Please give us the first page of the book.
Monday, December 2, 1864
Susan Hawkins swung her teaching satchel as she held wee
’s hand with her
free one. Walking home with five of her siblings—who were also her
students—always put a smile on her face and a spring in her step. She could
simply be the twenty-three-year-old big sister, not their teacher, and on this
sunny December afternoon her walk home with them felt nothing short of
heavenly. She glanced out at the mighty Elizabeth St. Lawrence River
still flowing freely past her beloved island home and turned to her
eight-year-old sister, Cecelia. “The river hasn’t frozen over yet. Amazing.”
Cecelia pouted. “I don’t like it when it’s all frozen and no one can come to the island.”
“I know, but we’ve learned how to get by, haven’t we?” Susan let go of
hand to pat Cecelia’s unruly red hair. I do hope her hair deepens to a nice
auburn, like mine has. Six-year-old Elizabeth
gazed up at Susan with big, teary eyes. “Teacher, Daniel says I’m a stupid
baby. I'm not. I’m six and know my letters and numbers and can write my name.” Elizabeth
Susan’s eyes narrowed as she fairly growled. She whipped around to see Daniel, Robert, and James tossing rocks at a tree. So much for a heavenly walk.
“Daniel. Come here at once!” Susan put on her most professional scolding-face and gave her ten-year-old brother a thorough tongue-lashing. By the time they got home, the boy’s shoulders hung limp, his boyish bravado dutifully quenched.
When the six of them tumbled through the door, their hard-working mama smiled and wiped her flour-dusted hands on her apron. She brushed a strand of her thin, sandy hair from her face, leaving a dusting of white on her forehead. “I’m glad you be home. We have company for dinner and much to do before they come. Laddies, go and do your chores.”
Susan quirked an eyebrow. “It’s Monday. Who comes for dinner on a Monday?” Mama gave her a bit of scowl and cleared her throat. “Father invited his friend, Patrick O’Neill, and his daughter. The men have important things to discuss. I need all of you lassies to help me prepare for tonight.”
Cecelia wrinkled her freckled nose, so much like Susan’s. “That Lizzy is such a spoiled child. She thinks she’s better than everyone else. All nastiness and prickles.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m at www.SusanGMathis.com,
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis/,
on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis,
on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut,
on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis,
and on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/108568340293012416399
Thank you, Susan, for sharing this new book with me and my blog readers. I’m eager to read it.
Readers, here are links to the book.Christmas Charity - Paperback
Christmas Charity (Irish Brides Book 1) - Kindle
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