Friday, November 27, 2020

Spotlight on Author Donna Schlachter

Hi, I’m Donna Schlachter, and I love history.

Funny thing is, I never knew that until about seven or eight years ago. Up to that point, history, as I recalled it from school, was a heavy and successive load of dead kings and queens, dates, and boring wars.

But that all changed when I met up with my good friend Mary Davis at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference. I asked what she was working on, and she said she was putting together a proposal for a novella collection featuring the Pony Express. I said that sounded interesting, and I’d love to do something like that, too. Unfortunately, she had all the authors she needed, so that was that, although she promised to let me know if that changed.

I knew nothing about the Pony Express. Yikes! What might I have gotten myself into? So hubby and I took a couple of road trips between St. Joseph, Missouri, through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah, following the Pony Express trail. I was hooked.

And a month later, Mary contacted me, said one author dropped out, would I like to join? Would I? Yes.

And the rest is, as they say, history (no pun intended). That collection did eventually release, but even more so, it ignited an interest and passion for history that didn’t include dead monarchs and dates to memorize. I discovered that every piece of history includes real people, just like me and you, with real lives, worries, fears, hopes, and problems. And while the problems aren’t quite the same now as then, they still needed to be overcome.

Another thing I learned is that I have a fascination with cemeteries. I love looking at the names, the ages, the family plots, the line of tiny headstones for infants, some so young they didn’t even have a name. I wonder about the heartbreak of those families, and whether they moved on and started over somewhere else. I marvel at those who made it to a ripe old age in a time when the other stones indicate shorter lives. What did they do differently? And then there are the markers that indicate the person traveled across the ocean from Ireland, England, Germany, and Russia, to name a few countries. What brought them here? Did they find what they sought?

Since discovering that newfound love for history, I’ve traveled the depth and breadth of the continental US, east to west, north to south, including Alaska. In Sitka, I found a Russian Orthodox cemetery hidden in a small grove of trees. Tripping over tree roots, shaded in the dim light, the stones dripping with moss and moisture, everything quiet around me—I truly felt I was walking on holy ground. What brought these Russian immigrants to Alaska in the 1700’s and 1800’s? Life must have been incredibly difficult in Juneau, a land of contrasts in weather and seasons. And the journey itself must have been dangerous, tossed on the open ocean for thousands of miles. Did they even know where they were when they got there?

These are all questions and situations that create fodder for books that still need to be written. I find that wherever I go, I find far more history and personal life stories than I’ll have time to pen. But that won’t stop me from trying.

If you’ll leave a comment, I’ll draw randomly for a free print copy (US only) or ebook (winner’s choice), of The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado. This book is based on research I did into the old Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs, and is loosely based on the demise of that hotel.

Question: What is your favorite time period in history, and why?

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

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  1. Hi Donna,
    I had to chuckle as I read how much you enjoyed history is school. I felt the same way, and particularly with all those dates I was supposed to However, I have since discovered that historical fiction is my favorite genre. I have learned so much history by reading the well researched books you wonderful authors are writing!! Thanks so much for all your work and also for the giveaway. bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Hi Donna,
    we have a lot in common...I love history and I love poking around in cemeteries. Genealogy work helped me make the discovery of much history in cemeteries. My brother and I canvassed a local cemetery where many of our family lines are buried. That project took about 4 weeks to finish, but it was so worth it. I live in the SW MO Ozarks. My favorite era is Civil War to Victorian Turn-of-the-Century. Thank you for posting about history! jenningskaren1973(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Welcome to the blog! My favorite time in history seems to be the development of this country, from the Jamestown colony through to the expansion to the Western coast. The stories of the people who were brave enough to move from what they knew to find out what was "out there" is fascinating to me. And also the brave souls like the Irish who immigrated to America for a life of more possibilities for themselves and their families, although I feel badly about how they often were treated by others upon arrival. Thanks for the giveaway. bcrug(at)twc(dot)com

  4. Hi Donna! My favorite childhood books were Black Beauty, The Secret Garden, The Little House books, Little Women, and Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. As a teen I was drawn to art by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, Queen Anne houses, frilly Valentine cards, Victorian style furniture and fashions. Evidently, my favorite time period is the 19th century.