Happy Wednesday, everyone! This is Kathleen L. Maher here with you today. Up here in New York State this is week 11 or thereabouts of sheltering in place. What is all this free time, anyway, but an awesome opportunity when there are so many good books to read?
One of the best books I read last year, Lane Steen, has a sequel that just came out in March, just as all the global brouhaha began. But each of these stories can be read as a stand-alone, and if you are a fan of historical fiction with a true old-soul vibe, intelligently written but heartwarmingly unpretentious, with a transcendent message, you are in for a real treat.
My guest today is Candace West Posey, a name you will hear more and more as time goes on. Today you get the privilege of saying you discovered her wonderful story world of Turn of the Century Ozarks, and the brilliant, endearing characters that populate her rural valley town.
Welcome, Candace! Please share your secrets. How do you do it? How do you transport a reader from 21st century modern back in time to your beloved Valley Creek, Arkansas? Tell us about your story world, and what it means to you.
Thank you for having me, Kathy! I’m thrilled to be here!
I always like to joke that I was born in the wrong century. Growing up, I soaked up stories told by my grandparents who were raised in the Ozarks. We spend most of our vacations there, and I love visiting old cemeteries and homeplaces.
My story world is a very real place, a mix of past and present, of reality and imagination. Exploring those places, falling in love with the characters, and picturing them in those surroundings are my secret. When I stand beside a bubbling stream, I see Lane sitting beside it. When I visit an abandoned country church, old hymns drift on the breeze, the singing voices imperfect yet beautiful. On an empty lot, I see the sawmill, hear the voices of working men, and smell the spicy scent of sawdust.
By the time I finished book one of the Valley Creek Redemption series, the characters and places felt so real to me that I had to remind myself they were imaginary. I hope readers feels the same by the time they reach the last page.
Would you share a brief synopsis or blurb of your latest work, Valley of Shadows, and where it may be purchased?
Lorena Steen gave up on love years ago. After arriving at Valley Creek to visit her daughters, she stumbles first thing into Earl, the husband who abandoned her.
As for Earl, facing Lorena while fighting his own demons tempts him to flee town. How can he rebuild a relationship with his daughters and cynical neighbors when guilt shadows every step?
While the storm brews between them, another storm descends on Valley Creek. Will a ghost town stand in its wake?
But then the townsfolk devise a plan. All they need is a former concert pianist and violinist. A wife and husband estranged.
Can Lorena and Earl set aside their feelings to rescue a community? Even though it sweeps them back through valleys best forgotten? Especially when a forbidden love claims his right to win Lorena's heart?
Amazon (Kindle and Paperback): https://www.amzn.com/1951246268
In your debut Lane Steen, we meet a character that is as appalling as he is intriguing. My favorite in the story, a real scene stealer. Tell us about Lane’s father, Earl Steen, and how he came to have his very own story.
I hated Earl Steen from the opening scene, just as Lane did. A few critique partners wanted me to kill him off. As the story progressed, I started wondering who this angry, embittered man was. Only a few times did Earl offer me a glimmer of something buried deep inside. Was there anything redeemable within? Did he have secrets? I knew then that Lane needed those answers as badly as I did. By the end of the book, my hatred for him had evolved into tentative love. I had to know more about Earl. He needed a chance to show that God could take a villain and transform him into a hero.
And then, there is Lorena Steen. Elegant, ladylike, noble and honorable. But hiding a scar inside her serene heart. Lorena reminds me so much of my mother. Is there a person in your life that inspired her character?
I’m honored by your words, Kathy. Yes, Lorena is a mixture of the strong, Christian ladies who taught me and poured their light into my life…my mom, my grandmothers, and my aunt. My mom’s gentle ways and piano playing inspired Lorena’s. Her wisdom came from my grandmothers. My aunt inspired her bravery. Though each one of them had scars, they showed me how to glorify Christ through those scars and live victoriously.
A storm creates a turning point in the story. It is written so realistically, I could hear the growl of its ferocity. Have you lived through weather like you depict to guide your creative process?
Yes. Every year, I dread tornado season. We’ve been fortunate, but several tornados have torn through our area. A few times way too close. We’ve rushed many times to the closet or hallway, praying the whole time. I’ve witnessed the damage afterward in the communities nearby. I’ll never forget passing where a church once sat. Nothing was left but a light pole and a butane tank. Not a piece of wood in sight. It was as though the building vanished. Chilling.
Wow, chilling, indeed. Aside from near-death first hand experiences with weather, what was the hardest thing to research in this story for you?
It’s funny you should ask that. The hardest thing was finding the price of a sawmill in the 1910’s. After lots of digging, I found a working sawmill in California that is now a museum. I called and talked to the owner. He told me the sawmill had been in his family since it was bought new in the early 1920’s. After I shared the reason for my call, he answered my questions and told me the price they originally paid. I did the best I could to adjust the price for 10 to 15 years earlier.
|new cover coming soon!|
What was the hardest emotional scene for you to write or to put your characters through? As an author do you laugh at funny moments or cry at sad ones?
Yes, I do, and I love it when that happens! Without giving away a spoiler, one of the hardest scenes to write was the scene with Edith after the tornado strikes Valley Creek. Earl wasn’t always an easy character to write either. He had buried a lot of things deep inside. I cried through the scene where he and his sister Ella are returning from a supper at a neighbor’s home. On the other hand, I laughed when Lane visited Doc Brown’s office.
What’s next on your writer’s slate? And where can readers find you?
I’m working on book 3, and I’d love to share my working title for the first time here. Dogwood Winter. I’m excited to feature two characters who appeared in Valley of Shadows. Look for it sometime next summer!
I love building friendships with my readers! Please take a moment to connect with me at these links.
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/inspirationnovel
Candace, thank you for sharing with us, and for your warmth and generosity.
CONTEST ALERT! Speaking of generosity, Candace is offering an e-copy of Valley of Shadows to one lucky commenter here. Please share this post for extra entries, and let us know where you shared (FB, Twitter, etc)
A winner will be drawn by random dot org and announced here on Saturday May 30th. Don't forget to leave your email in the comments so I can contact you if you are selected.
Kathleen L. Maher’s first crush was Peter Rabbit, and she’s loved conflicted heroes ever since. She has two novellas in BARBOUR BOOKS' collections: Victorian Christmas Brides and Lessons on Love. Winner 2012 ACFW Genesis Award. Author of Sons of the Shenandoah Series: The Abolitionist's Daughter and The Chaplain's Daughter.
Kathleen and her husband live in an old farmhouse in upstate NY with their children and a small menagerie.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/KLMaherAuthor/