Today we welcome blog-member Crystal Caudill who has an exciting new book out! It's book number one in her "Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age" series, and it's called "Counterfeit Love."
Before we start our interview, here's a little taste of the story:
Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves--or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he's been sent to track down?
After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name-and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors' threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn't all Grandfather was hiding And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home-and the truth.
After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a nototrious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancee is connected. Can he really believe the woman he lovedis a wiling participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career-but that's better than failing her twice in one lifetime.
They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there's no question they're both still keeping secrets-and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.
Wow! Sounds wonderful, Crystal! Now, on to our interview.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
The flexibility of schedule and where I work is probably my favorite thing. I'm a caregiver and the seasons that slam us with intense care needs are unpredictable, unless I'm on deadline and then you can guarantee it will happen. I literally could not work a regular job at this point in my caregiving life, and God has blessed my husband with a job that allows for me to be home. He's also blessed me with an outlet and ministry that I enjoy (most days) through writing.
I'm glad you've been blessed to be able to do your writing!
Do you have a favorite book or character among your novels?
It always depends on which book I write. However, I will say that Andrew Darlington ended up being one of my favorite heroes. He's from Counterfeit Hope, book two of The Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age. He's a foot-in-his-mouth, rough-around-the-edges kind of guy. But he has a huge heart which surprised even me. He's the perfect guy for my heroine and her son.
Where do you get your ideas for a story?
I'm a huge history nerd. I love researching, visiting museums, and hearing the experiences of others. It's usually during this history dive that story ideas spark to life.
I totally understand! I love researching and learning about history and how people navigated different eras and situations.
Which comes first, the story ideas or the characters?
Again, it depends on the story. Usually characters and bits and pieces of story come together, but not anything you could really call a plot.
What is the most odd or weird inspiration you've ever had for a story?
It's not so much inspiration for a story as a story detail. In Counterfeit Love, book one of my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age, the medical school shared space with a brewery in order to keep their cadavers cold. This space also happened to be next to an incline rail. Medical students were known to grab body parts-I woudn't be surprised if they'd been dipping into the alcohol too- and wave them at the passengers as they went by. I had to include at least a mention of that in my story.
Wow! That's quite a detail! :)
Do your characters ever take over and run off with the story or do they always behave?
My characters never behave. I'm currently on a deadline and the ending I thought I had plotted out got tossed out the window in favor of what my characters decided. I can only plot stories about 1/3 at a time, if I'm lucky, before they deviate from my original plans.
Sounds like you're a fellow seat-of-your-pants writer!
Do you ever base the qualities of your characters on yourself or people you know?
Not particularly. My characters really grow into their own person. I start off with looking at Meyers-Briggs personalities to start and then they become who they become over the course of the story.
That's a really interesting approach!
Do you write in bursts or in a more disciplined manner?
I try to write every single day to at least a certain point. However, my life is extremely chaotic and so I can't really have a set schedule. I have seasons of it, but the unpredictability of my life makes it difficult.
I'm sure a lot of authors can relate to that.
What do you hope that readers will take away after reading your books?
My main priority of my stories is to entertain and encourage. It's my hope that everyone will walk away feeling like they can make it through whatever challenges they are facing because they have a God bigger than anything they face. I throw my characters through the wringer and have them yanked down to their lowest. I know as a kid, seeing characters survive and thrive after what they've been through always made my challenges just a little easier to bear.
That's very true. The most memorable stories always seem to be the ones where the characters underwent extreme situations and overcame them.
What are you working on now?
The deadline for Counterfeit Faith, book three in Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age, is Sunday. This story has been met with the most time-draining challenges I've ever faced, from caregiving needs after a knee replacement surgery, Covid, and some still unexplained illness to the holidays, launching Counterfeit Love, and my own bout of Covid. Prayers are appreciated for that, but it's going to be a great story. You get to finally see Josiah Isaac's story, and bless his soul, it's a doozy.
I'm looking forward to it! Crystal, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. This has been a fun interview!!
And readers, here is some more information about Crystal, as well as her links:
Crystal Caudill is the author of "dangerously good historical romance," with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn't writing, Crystal can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at crystalcaudill.com.
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