Susan Page Davis Author Interview
Author Susan Page Davis chats with RT reviewer Patsy Glans about her latest inspirational historical, The Lady's Maid. Discover how this author began her research, what inspired this riviting historical tale and what readers can expect in the upcoming titles in the Prairie Dreams series.
PATSY GLANS: Most historicals have males as the hero, in The Lady's Maid, you choose a female, what were your reasons to have a female?
SUSAN PAGE DAVIS: Elise is a strong character and stays with Lady Anne all the way across an ocean and a continent. She’s the one who was there from the start and at the end of the trail, so she is my main viewpoint character in this book. Readers will also see the hero’s viewpoint and another, more sinister one.
PG: When you were writing The Lady's Maid, what research, if any, did you find you needed to do?
SPD: I did a lot of research about the British peerage and how titles are passed down. I contacted several knowledgeable people in England to be sure I had it right for this series. I learned how ignorant I was—and that the original scenario I had planned simply couldn’t happen. I love the way it turned out, and I hope the readers do too. I also did a lot of research on the Oregon Trail, even though I’ve written other books with that setting. And I needed more detail on St. Louis, Independence, Fort Dalles, and Oregon City in 1855 for this book than I’d ever used before.
PG: What was your inspiration for the storyline in the The Lady's Maid?
SPD: The idea of two English ladies joining a wagon train came to me while I was in Prince Edward Island researching another book (Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, released in April 2011 from Summerside Press). In that book a party of gentlemen came to North America from England and was greeted in grand style. But my women in The Lady’s Maid mingle with the masses and end up living under quite poor conditions on the Oregon Trail. It’s given me a chance to show another side of aristocratic characters.
PG: Is there a certain method you have to name your characters in your books? Are they based on anyone you know?
SPD: Naming characters is a real challenge for me. No, these particular ones are not based on real people. I try to find names appropriate to the period and the character. Anne is very English, but Elise is of German heritage. Eb’s real name is Edwin, but he goes by his initials—E.B. I’m not really sure where that came from, but he’s a very humble man. And I thought it would be fun to give one of the bad guys a pretentious name—Thomas G. Costigan—in contrast to Eb’s short, practical nickname.
PG: Other than the main characters in the The Lady's Maid, is there a character you have a special fondness for?
SPD: I do love Rob Whistler, the wagon master. He’ll show up again in book 2, Lady Anne’s Quest.
PG: Do you have any say on what the cover of the book will be?
SPD: Barbour Publishing always asks for an art sheet with suggestions for the cover. The overall design was their idea, but they used my suggestion that the ladies’ trunks of clothing were very important in the story. I love what they’ve done with the covers for this series.
PG: In The Lady's Maid, there is some suspense. Without giving away any spoilers, what type of thrills will readers get to experience?
SPD: The search for Lady Anne’s uncle, David Stone, brings on some unexpected turns. Elise and Lady Anne have to deal with several unscrupulous characters, and I must say, they manage very well.
PG: Will there be characters from The Lady's Maid appear in future books in the Prairie Dreams series?
SPD: Yes, Lady Anne will lead the cast in the second book, Lady Anne’s Quest. You’ll also have glimpses of Eb and Elise in that book, and you’ll see more of Rob Whistler (and his wife, Dulcie) and also another member of their wagon train. And don’t be surprised if the shadowy Peterson shows up again.
PG: How can readers contact you?
SPD: Come visit my website at: www.susanpagedavis.com. I do a giveaway at the end of each month there. I also have a Facebook page that my daughter maintains for me.
PG: If you could have dinner with any historical figure (no family members — sorry) who would it be and what would the conversation be like?
SPD: I would love to talk to Captain James Cook about his many voyages. He was a true hero and a brilliant man. But I would tell him that while Hawaii might be a good place to vacation, it’s not so good to go back and try to get your mast repaired there.
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