How long did Heart of Stone take you to complete?
Most of my books take about eight months to complete, but I don’t work every day. Sometimes I have other projects going or I am editing a previous book, getting it ready for publication, or I’m doing promotion work.
Do you have a favorite character in Heart of Stone? Why?
Laura is my favorite character because she was such a troubled heroine with a very dark past. She was sold into a brothel by her uncle when she was ten years old. She and her three sisters never saw each other again. Laura made something of her life and chose to become a whole new person. Even though she created a new identity, her past still caught up with her. Through love, faith, and forgiveness, she finally achieves her goal of claiming a new life.
My second favorite character in the book is Jesse, the illegitimate son of the hero, Preacher Brand McCormick. Jesse is the kind of character who just begs for a book of his own. He may get one someday.
How much research did Heart of Stone take?
Most of my books require quite a bit of research since they are historical. The time periods in Heart of Stone are both 1853 and 1874, which are before and after the Civil War. America was completely changed because of the war. Texas, Louisiana, New Orleans, Irish immigration, yellow fever, prostitution in New Orleans, costumes, customs, manners and architecture of the times all had to be researched. During the writing, the trick is not to let the research and facts bog down the art of storytelling. It should be used to enhance. I also stop to research as the story unfolds.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Heart of Stone?
When people think of Louisiana and New Orleans, they think of the French origins of the settlement and the Creole culture. Long before the American Revolution, an Irishman named Alexander O’Reilly was appointed as the second Governor General of the colony of Louisiana by King Charles III of Spain. The 1850 census shows the Irish as the predominate ethnic group of New Orleans. They far outnumbered the French. I had no idea.
What were your favorite books as a child?
Beautiful Joe, Calico Captive, The Light in the Forest.