|All in Good Time, Gilded Legacy Series #2|
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Dessa Caldwell has a dream to open a Pierson house, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver's roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank
Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he's the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he's built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him...until the day Dessa Caldwell strolls into his bank requesting a loan.
Maureen Lang became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers, and a contract followed a year or so later for Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), followed by its sequel, Remember Me. Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their dog, Susie.
Favorite Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
I love this verse because I feel weak on so many days and in so many ways. If I ever accomplish anything it's purely due to Christ's help.
Visit Maureen in our Writers' Corner
Our Interview with Maureen Lang
What inspired your interest in writing the Gilded Legacy Series?
Two things: a title and my opinion that money can be more trouble than it’s worth—or at least, as the Bible says, the love of money. The first book in the series, Bees in the Butterfly Garden, came about because of the title. One day I was sitting near a window that overlooked my garden, an area I’d planted to attract butterflies. But that day there weren’t any pretty butterflies—there were two big bees hovering around. Feeling sorry for myself, I said aloud, “I plant a garden for butterflies and all I get are bees. Bees in the butterfly garden.” As soon as the words were out, I said, “Hey! What a great title! Now I just have to write a book to tack onto it.” The logical theme demanded characters to represent the bees, infiltrating a place meant for pleasantries. Something to do with money seemed an obvious possibility.
How did you come up with the concept for the Gilded Legacy Series?
Following the theme from the first title, I explored reasons people might do things for money that they wouldn’t do if they had security. I also wanted to create a heroine with a past that she couldn’t redraw or change who learned that though she couldn’t change her family, she could ultimately find peace by accepting God’s love and forgiveness. For me, Bees in the Butterfly Garden was more the heroine’s story than the hero’s, though he needed to complement her and have his own spiritual journey. So rather than having him try to redraw his own past, I wanted him to be more concerned about the future—first about having enough money to shape it the way he wanted, but then to learn he needed to be forgiven for his past and trust his future to God.
Is any part of the Gilded Legacy Series factual? Explain.
I had so much fun researching bank robberies and other nefarious schemes from the Victorian age. I guess I shouldn’t admit that, since every crime calls for a victim, but I wanted the character my heroine fell in love with to have a colorful past. Kate, an older female character in Bees in the Butterfly Garden, also has a past requiring forgiveness, based on an actual con artist I read about—an American who pretended to be British royalty to get in with wealthy New Englanders. She would “borrow” money she never intended to pay back. Another actual robbery based on history is when my hero robs a bank, fully expecting to do business as usual by “ransoming” stolen banknotes.
Do you have a favorite character in the Gilded Legacy Series? Why?
I’d have to say Evie is my favorite in Bees in the Butterfly Garden; she’s such a stinker. Someday I’m going to write a story just to redeem that naughty girl. Speaking of facts, her prank of leaving raw chicken in another girl’s room at school was inspired by an incident at my daughter’s condo where neighbors who’d moved out forgot to take some chicken they’d left defrosting in the sink. What a stench!
Also, Henry in the second Gilded Legacy book, All in Good Time, is probably my favorite hero to date. He’s so flawed in the beginning, but by the end, despite all his efforts to stay flawed, he can’t resist the power of love to transform him.
How much research did the Gilded Legacy Series take?
Research is one of my favorite elements in writing. I’m not exaggerating when I say most of my story ideas and plot developments come from research. And the Victorian age was so rich with rules and customs that it was easy to incorporate a lot of it into my books.
I usually start every idea with research but then continue exploring the era as I’m writing since I don’t often know everything I’ll need until it comes up in the story. I really love researching as I’m writing because it helps me spot things I know will fit my characters.
What were the most interesting facts that you learned while writing and researching the Gilded Legacy Series?
I loved reading about all the rules of polite Victorian society and had a lot of fun making up excerpts from a handbook the founder of my heroine’s school in Bees in the Butterfly Garden could have written. There are countless books available on Victorian etiquette, so I had plenty of material for inspiration. The general theme in decorum for the Victorian age seemed to be self-control: never leaving home without the right accessories and protection (i.e., the protection of a chaperone, not of sunscreen—their hats, gloves, and parasols did that for them!). A woman of the Gilded Age needed to school every emotion so each move she made was gracefully controlled. I suppose tight corsets helped in that regard!
Is there something special that draws you to this time period?
Mark Twain referred to America’s version of the Victorian era as the Gilded Age because money seemed to flow like never before, at least for those who ran big businesses. Since they often took advantage of their employees, it was a term used in association with gilding over something ugly. That’s what I wanted to explore—how money can corrupt people.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I’ve been able to conquer some of the challenges that come with writing just by keeping at it over the years. For example, until I get to know my characters and the plot they’re going to be enmeshed in, I usually wonder who thought it was a good idea to be a writer. Knowing insecurity comes with the start of every new book makes it easier to live with.
For me, the biggest challenges associated with being an author aren’t necessarily with writing. The marketing and business end of things is far more challenging. I blog once a week on my own blog, twice a month on a group blog at Christians Read (http://christiansread.wordpress.com/), have a Facebook page, answer reader mail in a timely manner, cooperate with requests from my publisher’s PR and marketing departments, guest blog at other sites whenever I have a new book out, and am generally interested in growing my presence online by keeping up with various loops I belong to. But because quite a bit of my time is devoted to my handicapped son, it’s difficult to pursue some ways of supporting my writing. For example, I can’t do much traveling to conferences or to teach anywhere except from home, online. It does seem like there are many chances to do more marketing that I pass up because of time and travel limitations. I guess it boils down to having my focus divided and sometimes feeling like I can’t serve either area as fully as I’d like.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
Other than the actual writing—when pieces of a puzzle come together to form a whole picture I only hoped would show up—I love hearing from my readers. That’s so special to me, that someone would take time out of their busy day to let me know they enjoyed my work.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by the seat of your pants”? Or somewhere in between?)
I’m definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer, mainly because I’ve always thought of myself as a reader first. If I knew every little detail about the story before I began writing, it would feel like reading a book for a second time. Where’s the fun in that? I love surprises along the way. Of course, I might be more efficient with my time if I were an outliner, but for me, my way is more fun. And if the writer is having fun, chances are the reader is, too.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
Right now I’m finishing up the details on my April 2013 release, All in Good Time—things like the dedication, author’s note, and discussion questions. It’s set in Denver during the 1880s, about an ambitious young woman with a heart to help other women, no matter what kind of trouble they’re in, and the stingy banker whose manager loans her the money to start her mission—without his approval, of course.
After this I’m getting ready to dive into a whole new series, one that’s set in my native Chicago. Lots of research material right at my fingertips!
What message would you like your readers to take from the Gilded Legacy Series?
This series is mainly about forgiveness, so I hope readers will be reminded that God’s love is the best offer we can possibly receive in that regard. I also hope to offer simple entertainment! In a world that seems faster, more dangerous, and looser than ever, I think providing some good, clean entertainment is an absolute must. That’s what I look for, and I write what I feel like reading.
What is your greatest achievement?
This may sound like my standards for achievement are low, but each and every day that I stay on top of life’s demands makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Being a wife, a mom, a writer, and a responsible member of my community all come with different demands. Some of my demands are unique because of my 17-year-old with a 2-year-old’s functionality since he has Fragile X syndrome. I guess that’s why meeting obligations in the other roles of my life feels like an accomplishment—my eye isn’t always in their direction.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
A long time ago, I wrote secular romances. Even though I was using the passion for writing that God gave me, my life in no way reflected my faith, which had grown cold inside. When I rededicated my life to the Lord, I knew if I ever wrote another book, it would be one that he’d want to read. They say most men don’t read romances, but I think the God who created women understands romance better than any of us do. With all that in mind, it’s my goal to learn something with every book I write, not necessarily from historical research (because I have a terrible memory for dates) but rather a truth that God might be trying to show me through my characters or story.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I write and I read. That’s the way God wired me, so spending my time getting to do what I love best is a huge blessing—one I’m forever grateful for!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to ponder the thoughts you’ve presented in your questions, Dianne!