Robin Lee Hatcher ~ Americana Romance: My Historical “Sweet Spot”

robin lee hatcher picWhen I wrote my first novel, my love for Gone With the Wind (both book and movie) led me to set my story in the Civil War South. Over the course of the next ten years, I explored many other settings: Medieval England, Regency England, Victorian England, the high seas (pirate books), the Titanic, the Old West. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of historical facts that I hadn’t known before.

But in the early 1990’s I discovered my historical “sweet spot” when I wrote my first Americana romance. I realized how much I loved writing about ordinary people who had the courage to live and work in the American West, people who had the courage to build new towns and begin new lives, no matter the hardships that came their way.

I particularly love to set my books in Idaho. My home state is a beautiful place, full of rugged mountains and high country deserts and amazing rivers and lakes, and I love sharing all of it with my readers.signature_3sistercovers

My most recent series, the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs (a fictional Idaho town), got its start with the question: “Who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?” I wanted my heroines to have unusual occupations for their day. So what would be “their day?” I immediately knew I would return to the early 1900’s. It’s such a perfect example of the old mixing with the new. Some people rode in buggies pulled by horses. Others puttered along in their Model T Fords. Most people still had to use outhouses while some homes had fancy new plumbing. Electricity illuminated1918frocks some buildings while the majority used oil lamps. If you wanted to go across the country, you went by train –– unless you were a pilot of one of those new flying machines.

In the third and final book of the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series, A Matter of Character (which takes place in 1918), my heroine is a dime novelist, writing under a male pseudonym. Her occupation is a secret, even from membe1918 ad Royalrs of her family. But with the arrival of newspaperman Joshua Crawford in Bethlehem Springs, her secret is about to come out.

Research for this series took me in all kinds of directions. For A Vote of Confidence (1915), I researched, among other things, politics and health spas. For Fit To Be Tied (1916), my focus was on cattle ranching, horses, and the war in Europe, especially its impact on England. For A Matter of Character, in addition to research on dime novels, I needed to know all about the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

I hope readers will enjoy reading A Matter of Character (which should begin arriving in stores within the next week or so) as much as I enjoyed telling Daphne’s and Joshua’s story. I also hope they will miss the people of Bethlehem Springs as much as I miss them now that I’ve moved on to writing about other characters.

Before I go, I’d like to invite readers of Petticoats & Pistols to join me for a Facebook launch party on my Novelist Page on Friday, May 21st, from 6 to 8 PM. I’ll be giving away several copies of A Matter of Character to participants that night. Also, Zondervan and I are hosting a contest with three really fabulous giveaways. The contest will kick off on Monday, May 24th. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this. Be sure to visit my web site, www.robinleehatcher.com on the 24th and follow the contest link (located oMatterOfCharacter covern the Home page).

 

 

Robin is giving away one copy of her brand-new release, A Matter of Character, to a very lucky commenter. Join in the discussion and be sure to include your email address so we can contact you.

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44 Comments

  1. I was a very poor student of history long ago when I was in school. As I’ve grown older I have actually learned a lot about history from reading romance novels. Whether they are early America or regency England I’ve really enjoyed learning about the past. I can certainly appreciate all the research an author has to do to make their stories authentic. I have not read any of your books, but I would certainly like to change that. Your Sisters of Bethlehem Springs sound like stories I would really enjoy.

  2. Avatar

    Robin,thank you so much for coming today,very interesting post,I love reading history an that books sounds just great,cant wait to read it,welcome an again thanks for dropping by

  3. Robin, very interesting post containing a lot of my favorite topics (writing, horses, even the Spanish Flu). I have always been fascinated by those women who find a way to do a man’s job, fight in a war, break those glass ceilings.

    Thanks.

  4. Hi, Robin! Thank you for a very enjoyable post! “A Matter of Character” sounds delightful My grandparents were born in the early 1900’s and they often told me stories of their childhoods and passed on stories from their own parents and grandparents. I have some photos and family possessions from that era, and I was lucky enough to have my grandmother and grandfather to tell me something about each item. As a child, I played “dress-up” with wonderful clothes from great-grandmother and grandmother! My Gran also liked to visit antique shops, and she and I spent a lot of time looking and exploring while she told me what different things were used for in a household. Gran was a very special lady. She was extremely intelligent, witty, and the greatest cook ever! In the early twenties, she was briefly a model in New York. I have one of her modeling photos–such smoky blue eyes! The modeling career didn’t last, and she opened a little cafe called “The Bluebird Tea Room” in Baltimore, MD. After a broken romance with a handsome Naval officer, Gran returned to VA, where she later met and married my grandfather. The early 1900’s were indeed an exciting time!

  5. Hi Robin,
    Welcome to Wildflower Junction. I’m loving your Bethelem Springs series and can’t wait to read A Matter of Character. Your sweet spot is also mine. Hope to see you in Orlando.

  6. Oh my! I just finished a novel about a lady who writes dime novels and it was really good so I’m sure this will be excellent as is all of Robin’s books!;-)

    XOXO~ Renee

  7. I do so love a good historical romance! One day maybe I’ll venture to write one LOL IMW, I’ll keep on reading.

    Good luck & God’s Blessings Ms. Hatcher.
    PamT

  8. It must have been a fascinating time, all those changes coming about in technology and the way of life.

    Great blog and all the best for your release!

  9. Hi, everyone!

    Linda, I have learned a lot of history because of reading historical romances too. I hope you’ll be able to read my Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series soon, and that you’ll enjoy each one of them.

    Vickie, history was my favorite subject in school, along with English. I love learning about other places and times.

    Julie, when the Library Journal gave Fit To Be Tied a starred review, they said: “A master of lively historical romances, Hatcher demonstrates an expert ability to craft spunky, unlikely heroines who go against the tide of the times in which they live, making for fun, exciting stories.” So it sounds like it’s right up your alley.

    Virginia, thanks for sharing about your grandmother. I adore family histories. My grandmother was born in 1880, and she was among the first women elected to public office in Idaho. She was also an “actress.” She did professional readings, and I have a very old copy of one of the books with the lines marked that she memorized.

    Hi, Margaret. Thanks for the welcome. Sadly, I have decided not to go to Orlando. I was going to Nashville, but when the venue changed, I opted to stay home to help make my deadline. Good luck in the RITAs. I know every finalist but one in the Inspirationals, so I have to root for all of them.

    Renee, I hope you’ll enjoy A Matter of Character as much as the other book about a dime novelist.

    Thanks for the blessing, Pam. So glad there are lots of readers who love historical romances.

    Hi, Karyn. The early 1900’s were indeed a fascinating time. I know I’ll return to that era again, although at present my current WIP is set back in the latter 1800’s again.

    Robin

  10. Hi Robin! Thank you for visiting Petticoats & Pistols today. Americana romance has always been my favorite. Your books were among the first romances I read. They inspired me!

    The early 1900s is a fascinating time period. Dynamic history leads to exciting characters, which adds all sorts of energy to a romance. Have a great day!

  11. Robin I love all your books! There’s something about the simple times of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that fascinate me beyond measure and every novel I read of yours makes me feel like I’m there in that time and place.

  12. Your post was interesting and wonderful. A Matter of Character sounds unique and compelling. What fascinating history you have mentioned.

  13. Robin, I’ve read the first 2 in this series and they are really awesome!! Can’t wait to read this one!! I’ve also read many more of your novels and I’ve never been disappointed!
    God bless,
    Janet

  14. I would love to read your new book! I loved the Forgiving Hour

  15. Thanks for the welcome, Victoria. What an honor for my books to be among the first romances you read and to have inspired you. That’s a compliment to be treasured.

    Breanne, your words were such an encouragement to me this morning as I prepare to get to work on my latest WIP. Thank you.

    Ruth, I hope you’ll find A MATTER OF CHARACTER to be a great read.

    Janet, I’m so delighted that you enjoyed the first two books in the series and that they left you eager to read the third. That is high praise, indeed.

    Robin

  16. Annon1001, since The Forgiving Hour was my first novel in the Christian market, as well as my first contemporary, it holds a special place in my heart. It’s been out of print for quite a few years, but Zondervan is going to reissue it in the next year or two. I’m so delighted about that.

    Robin

  17. Ribbon of Years was the first book of yours that I read and it is still one of my favorites. Did your grandmother help to inspire it?
    I always loved stories of the Old West, but in the last few years have also come to love more recent stories of our past – early 1900s onward. I’ve read a few mainstream books lately in which the 1960s are considered historical settings and the errors drove me nuts! LOL

  18. Hi, Kristy. Hope you enjoy the book.

    Judy, Miriam in Ribbon of Years was actually inspired more by my mother than my grandmother, and thus the book is very special to me. Being a witness to Mom’s faith has been an enormous blessing to me.

    Robin

  19. Hi Robin,
    I love all your books!!! When I read one, I say that one is my favorite, until I read the next one. I been saving the first two books in your “Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series” until this third book came out so that I could read them together. Thank you for giving me many hours of reading pleasure. You are truly a gifted writer!

  20. It’s so much more enjoyable learning history from romance novels!!! History in school was mostly boring and memorization yuk. I would love to learn about Idaho (I’m afraid all I know about your state is that they grow potatoes lol). I’ve not read you yet but I’m definitely interested.

  21. History has always been a hobby of mine. I love to learn but sadly I am getting older so the things I use to know I no longer do (lol).

    I have ready alot of your books and have enjoyed them all can’t wait to read this series sounds so great.

  22. Robin, I love your historical novels! I really enjoy the fact that they’re often set in Idaho, because my daughter-in-law grew up in Boise, and it makes me feel somehow closer to her. 🙂

  23. I was captivated by this intriguing and fascinating post. History in them making. I am enthralled with anything that contains history within the pages of a story, novel and book. This is real and meaningful. Best of success on A Matter of Character which is lovely.

  24. Sharon, I think it’s safe to begin reading the first two books in the series, because the third will be available any day now.

    Jeanne, I hope you’ll try one of my books soon. And if you do, I’ hope you’ll want to return for more.

    Sherry, I feel your pain about the things you used to know. LOL! I used to retain far more information than I do now.

    Hi, Cindy. So glad you enjoy my books set in Idaho. And since I grew up in Boise like your daughter-in-law, it makes me feel connected to her as well.

    Robin

  25. Thanks, Ellie. Delighted to know you enjoyed the blog post and that you love history too.

    Robin

  26. Hi Robin,

    I’m a little late chiming in, but here’s a great big welcome to the Junction. We’re so happy to have you blog with us and hope you’ll come back again soon.

    I love writing historical romance and for me there’s no other genre that brings such satisfaction. I can’t see myself writing anything else. I really should’ve lived during the 1800’s. The romance was lots deeper back then.

    Your new release looks wonderful. Good luck with it.

  27. I love getting a history lesson with my escape reading =) The Bethlehem Springs books give me a good dose of both. I love that they are set in Idaho since I am an Idaho girl. Looking forward to the new book…

  28. Avatar

    this sounds like a wonderful series. You did indeed choose the perfect time period to show women’s changing place in the world. The country did have a foot in two worlds, transitioning to the 20th century.
    I started adding Christian fiction at the library where I worked. It was fun finding new authors and introducing them to our patrons. You turned out to be one of our popular ones. I don’t know if they have continued ordering, but I certainly hope so. This series would be most popular. Think I’ll have to give them call : ) (You can take the librarian out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the librarian.)
    Best of luck with the release of A MATTER OF CHARACTER. I’ll be looking for the whole series. My daughter and a two teens that babysit for her are big Christian Fiction readers and will also enjoy them.
    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

  29. Hi Robin, welcome to P&P! I will have to say historicals are my favorite read and is what I read most of the time! Your new series sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to read it. I learned a long time ago that women can do most things a man can do if they set their head to it. I did a man’s job for many years in a factory, it paid more! I am still not sure men like women doing their jobs but women work harder at it! Great post, I really enjoyed it.

  30. Hi, Linda. Thanks for the welcome. I used to think I should have lived in the 1800s, but then I start making lists of what I would want with me: penicillin, toilet paper, etc. LOL!

    Stephanie, always great to see another Idaho girl online.

    Patricia, thanks for introducing my books and other Christian fiction to your local library. So appreciated. Hope you’ll enjoy reading the new series soon.

    Hi, Quilt Lady.Yes, women can do most jobs that a man can do. I will concede some strength issues, however. And while I have refused to learn how to change the oil in my car, both of my daughters are perfectly able to do it. Bless them.

    Robin

  31. Your series sounds wonderful… I really like the sound of A Matter of Character! I have not had the pleasure of reading your books… adding your name to my list of authors to read! Thanks for sharing!!! 😀

  32. Enjoyed reading the comments. I read one of your books and really liked it. You are sure a diversified writer.

  33. Hi Robin, I’m reading In His Arms at the moment — and enjoying is very much. I’d LOVE to read your latest book. Thanks for sharing them with all of us.

  34. I forgot to leave my e-mail address: sylviastewart1@gmail.com

  35. Robin,

    I love reading historical Christian romances and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in your series. Can’t wait to read this new one!

    Here’s my email addy: fictionfan1@cox.net

  36. Colleen, I hope in reading my books you’ll discover a new favorite.

    Joye, glad you enjoyed the one book of mine you’ve read.

    Hi, Sylvia. In His Arms is part of the Coming to America series which readers have embraced over the years. The second book, Patterns of Love, won the RITA Award and In His Arms was a RITA Award finalist book.

    Vickie, so glad you enjoyed the first two books in this new series. I’m crossing my fingers that readers will find it a satisfying conclusion to the series.

    Robin

  37. Robin, I have enjoyed many of your books and am always on the lookout for ones that I have not read so I can continue reading. you have a wonderful talant for writing such interesting stories and making us feel like we are right there. I too enjoy the historical ones in a more gentler time. thanks for sharing your talant~

  38. hi and welcome Robin/ a very interesting post today and I enjoyed it immensely.
    I so love the cover of your new book- it is fun and colorful and love seeing the joy on the woman’s face.

    I have yet to read your work so please enter me.

    yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

  39. Thanks, Paula. Knowing readers feel like they’re right there in the story is high praise, indeed.

    Hi, Robyn. I love the cover too. In fact, all three covers of the books in the series are fabulous. I hope you’ll be able to read and enjoy them.

    Robin

  40. All through school I disliked History. Now as an adult in my late 50s, I find History exciting and I’m am drawn to Historicals. I am currently reading a book set during the WWII era and I have learned so much (which is good as my husband is a WWII buff and we have had some great conversations just from things I learned in this novel I am reading). I truly appreciate the research all of you do in order to make your stories come to life. I would love to read your books Robin.

    Blessings to you all.
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

  41. Hi, Robin. Your new book sounds wonderful! I love history. I teach Iowa history to 5th graders and love, love, love it! I enjoy listening to my parents talk about their childhoods in the ’30s and ’40s and wish I had been interested enough in my teens to listen to my grandparents before they passed away. My grandfather immigrated from Denmark and I was only 7 when he died. Thank goodness my mother talked with him a lot about his childhood and coming to America because she has passed those stories on to my sisters and me.
    jhinshaw@netins.net

  42. Welcome to Wildflower Junction today, Robin. I like the idea of early 1900 settings! Thanks for some great reads, and best wishes for much success with the new book.

  43. Hi, Cindy. I love studying the history of WWII. My novel, The Victory Club, is my tribute to the families of those fighting overseas. It’s the story of four women friends who work at Gowen Field south of Boise (where Jimmy Stewart was trained before heading for Europe), and it takes place over a 12 month period in 1943-1944.

    Deb, I have loved researching my own family history. My ancestors came from Sweden, Ireland, and England and have provided me with good fodder for blog posts.

    Hi, Tanya. Thanks for the welcome. I’ve enjoyed my visit with all of the authors and readers.

    Robin

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