Dorothy Love is the award-winning author of the popular Hickory Ridge series and fourteen other historical and contemporary novels published in the general and inspirational markets. When she is not poking around dusty libraries and museums in search of her next book idea, she can be found at the beach or at the home in the Texas hill country she shares with her husband and golden retriever.INTERVIEW
SS: Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Southern girl, and a beach girl. Though I’m currently landlocked in Texas. I spent fifteen years earning a PhD, running a school, and teaching at the university level before I left to try my luck as an author. I’m passionate about history, especially the history of women who accomplished amazing things that are often left out of the history books. I enjoy traveling with my husband of forty years. We’ve visited Tahiti, New Zealand, Bermuda, Panama and most of the US. But there are still lots of destinations on my bucket list, including Italy and Southern France.
SS: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
In third grade I wrote a story called The Land of the Magic Tigers. My teacher praised it and said I could be a writer one day. From then on, becoming a writer was my Great Ambition.
SS: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? Are there aspects of your life that are hard for family and friends to understand? What are they?
Balancing work and leisure is always an issue but I don’t think that’s unique to the writing life. Most women I know wear too many hats and sometimes feel pulled in too many directions. I’m lucky in that my husband understands the demands of a writing career and supports it. He works full time, too and we try to keep the weekends for ourselves away from work.
SS: What genre do you write and why? Are there other genres you’ve written or would like to try?
I love history and believe that history matters. All of my novels for adults and many of my novels for young adults and pre teens are historical fiction. But I’ve also published contemporary fiction and a short biography of Hypatia of Alexandria. I published a fantasy-adventure for young adults but discovered that I don’t enjoy writing fantasy. These days I’m solely writing historical romantic suspense fiction for adult readers.
SS: How do you create characters? Are they based on people you know?
Many of my characters are inspired by real life women. The lead character in Carolina Gold was modeled after Elizabeth Allston Pringle, a South Carolina rice planter and writer. I’m working now on a new novel inspired by a famous stage actress.
SS: Tell us about your current release.
The Bracelet is historical fiction with strong elements of romance, suspense, and mystery. It pits my lead character, Celia Browning, a young society woman in antebellum Savannah against an unscrupulous newspaper reporter and against the anonymous donor of a bracelet imbued with a chilling message.
SS: Where did you get the idea for this book?
On a trip to Savannah I visited the Sorrel Weed house on Madison Square, the house made famous for its brief appearance in the film, Forrest Gump. I learned of the death by suicide of Matilda Moxley Sorrel, the former mistress of the house and of rumors that circulated in Savannah afterward. It was said Mrs. Sorrel took her life after learning her husband was having an affair with a slave girl named Molly, and that Molly was later found dead in the carriage house. The death of Mrs. Sorrel is not in dispute, but there seems to be no real evidence that Molly existed. I was intrigued by the stories and wondered how such events might affect a young woman whose position in society is threatened by scandal.
In Victorian times there was a custom by which a suitor would send a piece of jewelry set with stones to his beloved. When taken together, the first letter in the name of each stone spelled a secret message. A bracelet set with a diamond, an emerald, an amethyst, and a ruby thus spelled the secret message d-e-a-r. In the novel, my main character receives a bracelet set with a diamond, an emerald, an amethyst, and another diamond and sets off to figure out who sent it…who wants her d-e-a-d.
SS: Tell us about your main character.
Celia Browning is the raven-haired, violet-eyed daughter of David Browning, the third wealthiest man in Savannah. Since the death of Celia’s mother in the Pulaski steamship disaster, father and daughter have become very close. He includes her in discussions of business and politics, and advises her on her upcoming marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Sutton Mackay. When the newspaper reporter shows up and starts probing Celia’s past, she fears that old scandals may jeopardize her marriage to Sutton, and ruin her father’s business. Celia is curious, compassionate, outspoken, and totally besotted with her handsome suitor. But she is also sometimes too concerned with appearances, and too afraid to trust others.
SS: Is there a spiritual message in your book? If so, what is it?
I’m asked this question with every book and I always hesitate to tell readers what they should get from it. Readers are unique. They come to each book with their own experiences, expectations, and beliefs, and they make their own meaning as they read. If I tell them what the book means, then it’s hard for it to mean anything else. Some readers will read The Bracelet for the romance between Celia and Sutton. Some will read to unravel the scandals, and to find out how she tracks down the anonymous donor of the bracelet. Others will read in order to immerse themselves in another time and place, soaking up the historical details and living for a few hours in the world that was antebellum Savannah. My hope is that regardless of motivation, each and every reader is delighted, entertained and inspired.
SS: What are you working on now?
I recently completed line edits for A Heart So True, a novella to be published next June as part of a collection with three other authors. I’m editing A Respectable Actress for publication next fall. It’s a full length historical romantic suspense inspired by the life of Fanny Kemble, a stage actress who married a Georgia plantation owner. And I’m reading and taking notes for a novel to be published in 2016, but that’s all I can tell you about it just now. Let’s just say I am over the moon to get to write it.
SS: Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
Well let’s see. I once sang with a rock band called Second Avenue. At age 5 I fell from a moving car onto a highway and lived to tell about it. I love fresh strawberries but don’t like anything strawberry flavored, such as strawberry ice cream, strawberry pie, or strawberry lip gloss.
SS: Favorite TV shows?
Most anything on Masterpiece Theater. The History Channel. I loved that series Finding Your Roots with Louis Gates that just concluded. I love Turner Classic Movies. My guilty pleasures are Downton Abbey, House Hunters International and Antiques Roadshow. I keep hoping to find out that the ugly old vase in the attic is worth a fortune. So far, it hasn’t happened……
SS: Anything special you eat or drink while you’re writing?
After I narrowly avoided spilling coffee onto my keyboard, I made a rule not to eat or drink while I’m writing. I enjoy chai latte and Earl Grey. I usually take a late morning tea break to rest my eyes and play with Jake. Not necessarily in that order. He can be a demanding little guy and he knows I am a total pushover where he is concerned. Really, who can resist a golden retriever?
SS: How do you celebrate after completing a book?
By Doing. Absolutely. Nothing.
SS: Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Website: www.dorothylovebooks.com. I’m on facebook most days at www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks and occasionally on twitter at writerDorothy. I have a few Pinterest boards but I haven’t updated them in a while. I don’t really get the Pinterest thing, but lots of people seem to enjoy it.
SS: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thanks for hosting me. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year.
Dorothy is giving away a copy of The Bracelet, either in print or audiobook. Leave a comment, along with your contact information for your chance to win!