Desperate to rescue their kidnapped daughter, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos
trek two hundred miles through South Carolina mountains and backcountry
wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness, and despair.
Searching for their toddler and her Cherokee aunt kidnapped by slavers, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek from their North Carolina vineyard, through South Carolina backcountry to Charleston, a tinderbox of post-Revolutionary War passions. There Lilyan, a former Patriot spy, faces a grand jury on charges of murdering a British officer. Once free, they follow Laurel’s trail by sea and are shipwrecked on Ocracoke Island. Will they be reunited with their dear child or is Laurel lost to them forever?
Did you have to travel much concerning your books? If so, what’s the most interesting place you traveled?
Since I want my history to be right in my novels, I do extensive research and travel to the locations of my novels to absorb, to breathe in, everything I can: sights, sounds, smells. Thank goodness my husband drives us, because I have no sense of direction and can get lost in my driveway.
The most fun trip was one we took to the North Carolina Outer Banks to research for my upcoming books, Laurel and its sequel, Cassia. In Laurel, which takes place in 1783, my characters are shipwrecked on an Outer Banks island. Cassia, which takes place in 1799, has pirates. Between the two books, I knew I needed to learn more about the ships that sailed at that time, some of the nautical terms, and seafaring jargon. In Beaufort, NC, I stumbled upon a Maritime Museum where I spent hours in the library that still uses a card catalogue system (at my age, I felt right at home). I learned about the wild ponies that have roamed Ocracoke Island for hundreds of years and I became fascinated by the pirate lore of the area. A local restaurant owner pointed out an area for us to visit that still looks the same today as it did in the late 1700s.
You say you’d rather research than write.
It’s true. Researching for my novels brings me the same excitement Alan Quartermain must have felt hunting for King Solomon’s Mines. I’ve been known to spend an entire day in a library scribbling notes from someone’s diary, spending a wallet of quarters making copies of maps and old newspapers, and trekking from one book or document to the next with a perseverance Lewis and Clark would have applauded.
I enjoy the chase when one clue leads me to the next, to the next…
On my website, http://www.susanfcraft.com, I have over twenty years of research on a wide range of topics. I knew I’d never be able to write enough novels to use all my “historical treasures,” so I decided to share and put them on my website.
Will you share one of your “historical treasures” that we can find in Laurel?
What people in the past did in their daily lives always interests me. One thing that caught my attention was the bathing habits.
American colonists, like their European ancestors, feared that bathing would destroy their natural oils and leave them open to the ravages of diseases, so getting clean meant sponging off. More affluent people had chinaware washbasins. If they desired a full bath, their servants would heat buckets of water in the kitchen and haul them to the bedroom. There were no towels to dry with, so they used large pieces of cloth or blankets. Full baths were considered a luxury not done more than a couple of times a year.
In Laurel, Lilyan Xanthakos watches her husband bathe using lemon soap their hostess makes. It brings back a sweet memory before their daughter was kidnapped.
The last time she saw him bathe, he had been sitting in the bathtub in front of the fire in their cabin with Laurel balanced on his chest. Laurel slapped her hands against the water and splashed it into his eyes. His comical faces sent their little girl into a fit of giggles.
How she longed for those special family times. And to look upon her husband again with a desire free from the burden of grief and loss and guilt.
Which of your characters is most/least like you, and in what ways?
Except for not being able to find my way out of the woods, I identify most with my main character, Lilyan, who relies on her faith in God to get her through the dangerous and tragic happenings in her life.
If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
That’s an easy one. I’d have dinner with Nicholas Xanthakos. I have a place in my heart for this gorgeous Greek who embodies all the traits you want in a hero—bravery, gentleness, honor, faith. (No need to tell my husband—he knows already J)
Here’s how Lilyan describes her husband in Laurel:
She turned over and watched her husband’s chest rise and fall in his slumber, observing him as he lay in a partial shadow cast from the moonlight. His hands that could wield a knife with deadly accuracy—and yet gently rock a cradle. His arms that could sling an axe for hours—but also encircle his child and wife in a tender embrace. His broad shoulders that could bear the weight of a felled tree, and yet they provided a nestling place for his wife’s head. His firm chin that jutted out in moments of white-hot anger—but also nuzzled into his daughter’s feathery curls. Lips that shouted orders so harshly grown men cringed but also whispered endearments to his wife in their most intimate moments. She regretted the furrow that creased his brow, the only outward sign of how much he missed his koukla—his little doll.
Do you have a life Bible verse?
…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Who is your greatest encourager?
Fortunately, I have several. My husband, my daughter and son, and my granddaughter are my cheerleading team. Rejection is painful and, over the years as I grew more discouraged about not being published and wondered if anything I wrote would be of interest to anyone, they lifted me up.
Tell me about some of your personality traits.
I could be the poster child for persistence (some might call it hard-headedness). I’ve been writing for 35 years, honing my craft at more writing conferences and reading more books about writing than I can remember. I simply refused to give up until I found someone interested in representing and publishing my novels. For all those years I worked fulltime, took care of my family, and made time for writing—sometimes into the early morning hours. I’m sentimental and cry at Hallmark commercials. I love the Lord with all my heart and strive daily to please Him, though I fail miserably at times.
Where can people get a copy of your books?
You can purchase The Chamomile and Laurel in hard copy at all the major bookstores, some regional southern independent bookstores, Amazon, and Kindle.
What are your social media sites?
You can find me at the following social media sites:
www.susanfcraft.com (my website)
http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com (Historical Fiction a Light in Time; my personal blog)
http://colonialquills.blogspot.com (post fourth Monday of each month)
http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com (monthly post)
http://www.hhhistory.com (Heroes, Heroines and History; post on the 31st of each month that has a 31st)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/susanfcraft @susanfcraft
Susan F. Craft writes inspirational historical romantic suspense. Her Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. Susan recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader. To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” Susan worked with the Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer's Guide to Horses (also known as An Equestrian Writer’s Guide) that can be found at www.lrgaf.org. Forty-five years ago, she married her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. An admitted history nerd, she enjoys researching for her novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on her porch watching the rabbits and geese eat her daylilies. She has two post-Revolutionary War novels being released in 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—Laurel, was released January 15, and its sequel Cassia in September. She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.