|A Matter of Character, Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series #3|
Robin Lee Hatcher
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The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series delivers exactly what readers have been waiting for-smart, confident women who are not afraid to defy convention, live their own dreams, and share their lives if the right man comes along.
In A Matter of Character, book three in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series, it's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs. But Daphne has a secret.
Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher,whose many awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational, and RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award. There are over six million copies of her books in print in fourteen countries. A frequent speaker to writers' and women's groups, Robin is a past President of Romance Writers of America, Inc. In recognition of her efforts on behalf of literacy, Laubach Literacy International (now known as ProLiteracy Worldwide) named "The Robin Award" in her honor.
Favorite Verse(s): Ephesians 2:10: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. AND Psalm 103:1-5. Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Visit Robin Lee Hatcher in the Writers Corner
Our Interview with Robin Lee Hatcher
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ll take the easy way and give you my “official” bio: Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of over sixty books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards including the 2000 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the 1999 and 2001 RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the 2001 RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Catching Katie was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.
Robin began her writing career in the general market, writing mass market romances for Leisure Books, HarperPaperbacks, Avon Books, and Silhouette. In 1997, after several years of heart preparation, Robin answere God's call to write stories of faith and hasn't looked back since. She has written both contemporary women's fiction and historical romances for CBA publishers, and in 2009 her 60th book, A Vote of Confidence, was released, launching a new series (The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs) that looks at the question, "Who says a woman can't do a man's job?" The setting is Idaho during the WWI era. Fit To Be Tied and A Matter of Character are the other two books in the series.
Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon.
How did you come up with the concept for A Matter of Character?
Story ideas come in all kinds of ways. For A Matter of Character, the title came first. Only it was a different title: A Word to the Wise. That title automatically implied to me that one of the two main characters worked with words in some way. My first thought was a newspaper reporter. But then the idea for a dime novelist presented itself, and the story slowly evolved from there.
Is any part of A Matter of Character true?
Not in terms of the actual plot and characters, no. But lots of research goes into every book, and so reality works its way into the fabric of the story. Certainly women have been writing novels under male pseudonyms for a long, long time, so you know that part is true.
How closely is A Matter of Character based on your life experiences?
Some of my novels borrow heavily from my personal life, but A Matter of Character isn’t one of them. And yet, everything a novelist sees or feels or experiences or reads, etc., becomes grist for the writing mill. Whatever my characters do or say comes from what I have learned--as a human being, as a woman, as a Christian, as a writer.
How did you choose the location for the setting?
Idaho is my home. I love my state. There is so much natural beauty here and such wonderful history to share with readers. The vast majority of my books are set in Idaho because this is the place I love best. (Did you know that more gold came out of the Boise Basin than either the California 49er gold rush or the Klondike gold rush? Did you know that there is more wilderness area in Idaho than any of the lower 48 states? Did you know that Shoshone Falls in Idaho is higher than Niagara Falls? Did you know that Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River is the deepest river gorge in North America? Yep. Also in Idaho.)
How long did A Matter of Character take you to complete?
I usually write a novel in about six months.
Do you have a favorite character in A Matter of Character? Why?
Well, in a romance, the author’s favorite characters had better be the hero and heroine. Otherwise, she won’t care if they successfully get together or not. So, yes, my favorite characters were Daphne and Joshua.
How much research did A Matter of Character take?
Every novel I write takes a lot of research. For this novel, I needed to know about dime novels, newspapers, woman’s suffrage, typewriters, writing instruments, foods of the period, salaries & living expenses, the Spanish Flu epidemic, fashions of WWI, etc. Those are just some of the research materials I collected for A Matter of Character.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing A Matter of Character?
Oh, dear. I’m afraid I have no answer to this question. I love learning. I am passionate about history. So everything I take in, I enjoy. No knowledge is wasted. And besides I’ve worked on two books since completing A Matter of Character, so my head is full of other facts and dates.
What were your favorite books as a child?
Any book about dogs or horses: Old Bones, Champion Dog: Prince Tom; Irish Red; Golden Cloud. I still have my paperbacks of these books, now half a century old (and ready to crumble into bits). I also loved all of the Trixie Belden books. I loved Trixie’s spunk. She appealed to me a lot more than Nancy Drew.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Time management; staying creative even when life falls apart; not getting discouraged by the business of publishing; and making things harder on my characters, to name just a few.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
My favorite part of being a writer is brainstorming a new book. I love it because at that point there are no plot problems or motivation discrepancies. All things are possible in the beginning, and there feels like there is nothing to keep this next book from being everything I envision it could be. And then the work begins. <g> I also love hearing from readers; that is a very special part of being a writer.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I’m a “pantser.” Advance plotting ruins the experience for me. I like to discover what happens next as I write just as the reader will discover what happens next as she reads. If I have the story all figured out in my head in advance, I no longer want to write the story. I want to write the next book because it is still a mystery to me.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Yes, they certainly do. They are very “real” to me, and in the act of writing, I feel like they are telling the story to me rather than me making it up as I go along. Of course, I know they are not real (I don’t want you to think I’m crazy), but that’s the only way I know how to describe the process.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
I’ve got a new historical romance series and a new historical romance stand-alone in my immediate future. I’m awaiting confirmation on the titles and the release dates, so I’m unable to share them at this writing. However, I can tell readers to watch for the first of those releases in fall of 2011.
What message would you like your readers to take from A Matter of Character?
Words matter. They have the ability to build up or tear down, to bring light or spread darkness, to share wisdom or encourage foolishness. Words matter.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps 19:14)
What is your greatest achievement?
My two daughters are my greatest achievement. They are also God’s greatest gift to me. When I see the women they became, the wives and mothers they are, I know that, despite all my failures and mistakes, I did a few things right, by God’s grace.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
That my readers will be entertained, inspired, and drawn closer to Jesus, and that God will be glorified.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I love to read and to watch movies. I enjoy knitting and I play around with painting (acrylics; I’m too impatient for oils). I attend the theater (Shakespeare plays and Broadway musicals are my favorites). I enjoy riding my bike along the Boise River when the weather is mild. And I’m crazy for my little dog who has the most annoying, ear-piercing bark in the world but who I find adorable anyway.