When 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.
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 illuminated 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 members 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 on 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.