Eleanor Morgan arrives in America hoping for a fresh start. But when the family employing her never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is left with few choices—the best of which is to marry a man she barely knows. Michelle Griep’s novel The Captive Heart (Shiloh Run Press) will take readers on a journey through backcountry South Carolina with a marriage-of-convenience plot. She answered our top questions about this exciting novel!
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this plot?
Currently our freedoms are being chipped away, piece by piece, to the point that makes me wonder where will it all end? So I imagined what it might be like to have my freedom taken away completely … and so was born The Captive Heart. I crafted the heroine to experience the loss of everything, then took her on a journey to learn to cope with that loss.
What makes this setting unique?
Backcountry South Carolina is no more. Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are still rolling hills with drop-jaw gorgeous scenery, but the wildness, the unpredictability is buried in history. Did you know buffalo used to roam in that southern region? Neither did I, until I did some digging. I tried to give the reader a snapshot of the area as it was in the eighteenth century, because it’s completely different than what it is today.
Is this a stand-alone novel or part of a series?
Stand-alone … though I wouldn’t mind writing a sequel some day featuring a few of the secondary characters as heroines.
What sort of research did you conduct in order to write this novel?
Lots of reading. My preferred haunt is the fiction realm, but to write this story and stay true to the area, I had to read lots of sometimes dry historical non-fiction. Let’s just say I drank lots of coffee. On the flip side, though, I had a blast touring the area and hiking the same trails that my hero and heroine would’ve roamed.
I also couldn’t have done this without the aid of my rural writing buddies. As a city girl, I don’t know which end is up on a horse. Okay, so I suppose I could’ve figured that out, but sheesh! There’s a lot to the handling and care of a horse that I didn’t know about.
Can you tell us about your path to publication?
I’ve been writing since I first discovered Crayolas and blank wall space, but I set it aside for years while raising a family. Kids are time magnets. But as they grew, so did my time. I started out running away one night a week to write. Eventually weekends worked and now my schedule is pretty flexible.
I also started out writing smaller pieces. My first publication was a poem. Then I moved on to articles, devotionals, short stories, until voila … a full-fledged novel.
It’s true that slow and steady wins the race.
What project are you working on now?
So many that I’m kind of schizophrenic with trying to separate myself from all the characters clamoring in my head. My biggest project, though, is a holiday series that will release one book for the next 3 years. Once Upon a Dicken’s Christmas is a Victorian collection of heart-warming yet suspenseful Christmas stories. The first story, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, carries the same theme of freedom but as experienced by the hero’s point of view. Here’s a blurb:
Imprisoned unjustly, Benjamin Lane wants nothing more than freedom and a second chance to claim the woman he loves—but how can Clara Chapman possibly believe in the man who stole her family’s fortune and abandoned her at the altar?