Interview with Donna Schlachter, author of “Echoes of the Heart”:
Alexis: Tell me about The Pony Express Romance Collection. What is it about? How did you become one of the authors for this story collection?
Donna: This is a 9-in-1 novella collection from Barbour Books centered on the Pony Express, which ran from April 1860 through November 1861. The Pony Express already seems to be a romantic snippet of Americana, and so it seemed to make sense to write a collection of historical romance set on the trail. My story, “Echoes of the Heart”, features a mail order bride responding under an assumed name, a crippled station master who thinks no woman will want him, and their search for a future—together or separately.
I met up with Mary Davis at a writers’ conference a few years ago, and asked her what she was working on. She told me about a Pony Express proposal she was putting together. I said, “I’d like to do something like that”. She said she had her authors, but would contact me if anything came up. I did some research, visited a few stations within a day’s travel, and about a month later, she emailed and said one of the authors had to drop out and was I still interested. I sure was!
Alexis: What inspired you to write your story in the collection, “Echoes of the Heart”?
Donna: The process I described above sounds easy, but in reality, the project was out for consideration for a long time. I’d given up on it, actually, but I loved my original story, so I went ahead and turned it into a full-length novel. When we got the approval for the proposal, I had to come up with another idea and move the story to another station since the new 9-in-1 had the stories take place at different stations. I’d had this idea in my head, although not originally set at a Pony Express station, so the transition was easy.
Alexis: Let’s talk about the heroine of your story, Catherine Malloy. What is she running from? Why is she running? What does she fear? What are her greatest hopes and dreams?
Donna: Catherine is running from an employer who made indecent advances toward her. She was raised in a loving family, but basically sold out when her parents died and a crooked uncle became her guardian. Her best friend, Maggie, saw an advertisement for a mail order bride, answered the advertisement, and was going to travel west when she died. Catherine, wanting to escape her situation, decided to pretend she was Maggie. She doesn’t want to get found out and sent back, and longs to have a husband and family—a marriage like her parents had.
Alexis: What makes Catherine answer a personal ad in a magazine? Would you say this is the inciting incident in her journey? Why or why not?
Donna: Catherine didn’t answer the ad, but she wrote the letters because Maggie was illiterate. During the writing, she began to have feelings for the man Maggie became engaged to. The inciting incident is the indecent advances and expectations of her employer. She is stuck—she cannot stay, and she has nowhere to go. When Maggie dies suddenly, this seems like her way out.
Alexis: Why does Catherine believe that the God who her parents believed in abandoned her?
Donna: Like many people, Catherine had only a surface relationship with God. She was living on the faith of her parents. When her parents fell ill, she prayed for God to heal them, and when He didn’t, she felt He had abandoned her.
Alexis: Benjamin Troudt is the hero of your story. Describe his looks, personality, strengths and character flaws.
Donna: Benjamin has brown hair and eyes, a cleft chin and strong jaws. He also has a pronounced limp because he was thrown from a horse when he was trying to qualify to ride for the Pony Express.
Alexis: Why is Benjamin resistant to romantic love and how does his faith in God help him?
Donna: Benjamin had big dreams of making enough money to buy his own place while he worked for the Pony Express as a rider. However, when he is injured then offered the job as station master, then his employment is tenuous because he is illiterate and he can’t keep up with the work, plus he has a pronounced limp, he doesn’t think any woman will want him. With all the bad luck heaped on him, he is certain God doesn’t hear his prayers.
Alexis: What does Benjamin like about Catherine? Is there anything about her that he dislikes?
Donna: Benjamin has no idea Maggie/Catherine is coming, because he didn’t place the ad. Once he gets her to stay, he appreciates her feminine touch and the fact that she is a good cook, but he doesn’t want to get too close because he knows she will leave.
Alexis: How does Catherine feel when she first meets Benjamin? Is it good or bad? Why?
Donna: Catherine is confused about why a man would advertise for a mail order bride and then not want her. He must see something lacking in her. She won’t stay where she’s not wanted. But she agrees to stay to help out the woman in labor. She doesn’t want to get too close to him because she knows he’ll send her away as soon as the woman is well enough to travel.
Alexis: What is the moral of this story?
Donna: That God is bigger than our past if we’ll only surrender to Him.
Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Donna! God bless you.
Donna Schlachter lives in Denver with husband Patrick who is her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts.
She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name.
Her current release, "Echoes of the Heart", a story within the 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express Romance Collection", released April 1.
Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”.
Donna loves history and research and travels extensively for both.
Blurb for “Echoes of the Heart” and The Pony Express Romance Collection:
This is a 9-in-1 novella collection from Barbour Books centered on the Pony Express, which ran from April 1860 through November 1861. The Pony Express already seems to be a romantic snippet of Americana, and so it seemed to make sense to write a collection of historical romance set on the trail. My story, Echoes of the Heart, features a mail order bride responding under an assumed name, a crippled station master who thinks no woman will want him, and their search for a future—together or separately.
Buy Donna’s story “Echoes of the Heart”: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW
Connect with Donna:
Blog - www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com
Website - www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com
Facebook - www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor
Twitter - www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter
Amazon Author Page - http://amzn.to/2oUZfMD
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