Stephenia H. McGee is the award-winning author of many stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South, including The Secrets of Emberwild. When she’s not reading or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a writer, dreamer, husband spoiler, and busy mom of two rambunctious boys.

In this interview, Stephenia shares some of her thoughts about her latest novel, The Swindler’s Daughter.

FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your new novel, The Swindler’s Daughter?
The Swindler’s Daughter is about a young woman who spent her entire life believing she was a widow’s daughter. When she discovers that her father has recently passed—in jail—her carefully ordered world begins to unravel. She travels to a backwoods Georgia town to settle her father’s estate, only to discover she’s become a rather unusual heiress.

FF: The Swindler’s Daughter offers a complicated family story. What was the inspiration for your novel?
Family can be complicated. There is the family we are born into, the people who raise us, and those we choose to love. The people closest to us can at times cause both the greatest joys and the greatest frustrations in our lives. In this book, I wanted to highlight family ties and complicated relationships and show how learning the truth and the stories of the past can shape how we see the future.

FF: Your two main characters, Lillian and Jonah, are very different. What ties them together?
They are very different! Lillian was brought up by a strict mother whose chief goal was to further their social standing and station in life. Jonah became the primary provider for his mother and sisters at a young age, and he is a hardworking man who values family. But underneath all of their differences, they share a common faith, a love for chasing dreams, and a desire to belong.

FF: Both The Swindler’s Daughter and your previous novel, The Secrets of Emberwild, feature women who desire independence. What inspires you to write about empowered women?
I love strong heroines. Strength comes in many facets, and where Nora from The Secrets of Emberwild was fierce and opinionated, Lillian is quietly firm. She takes each challenge as it comes and faces it with steel in her spine. I’m inspired by women like that, having been raised by a mother who portrayed courage, determination, and strength of character to me each day.

FF: What type of research was required to accurately portray the setting and time period for The Swindler’s Daughter?
This one required a lot of research. I can’t give away too much about what kind of business Lillian’s father was into, but I did end up buying seven different research books on the subject as well as spending hours in online research. On top of that, this is the first novel I’ve written this deep into the 1900s at a time when technology was just starting to pick up steam. I had to research everything from automobiles to what kind of stoves and refrigerators people had.

FF: What do you hope readers will gain from reading The Swindler’s Daughter?
This is a story of family, faith, and discovering your purpose. Lillian struggles with reconciling all of her own plans and expectations for her life with the wild, adventurous, and rather surprising plan God seems to have. I hope readers will see a little of themselves in her and explore some of these same themes about God’s perfect—if sometimes not at all what we expected—plans for our lives.

FF: What do you love most about writing historical fiction?
I really enjoy the research and imagining what it might be like to live in those times. The fashion and style of the early 1900s was classy, and there was a sense of new beginnings stirring at the turn of the century. I enjoy immersing myself in those simpler times before television and cell phones and creating a story deeply set in the richness of history.

FF: What are you working on next?
I just finished writing a novel about a showboat set on the Mississippi River in 1923. There are glitz and glam, a close-knit, quirky family, and a quiet accountant whose entire world changes when he encounters the fiery young singer who rules The River Queen.

The Swindler’s Daughter
Stephenia H. McGee
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN-10: ‎ 0800740246
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0800740245

Book Summary:
A high-society lady, Lillian Doyle has only her widowed mother for family, believing her father died many years before. But her world is completely changed when she learns that her father has only just passed—in jail. Not only is she shocked by this news, but she also learns she is the heiress to all of her father’s earthly possessions, including a run-down house and a business.

After Lillian travels to rural Georgia to take possession of her “new” home, she learns there is one small catch—a woman is already living in the house, and she insists that it belongs to her son, Jonah. The inherited business is also more than meets the eye and has put Lillian into a treacherous situation.

But she isn’t ready to give up on her strange inheritance. With the danger comes the possibility of truth and independence, and she is determined to have both. To do that, she’ll have to turn her enemies into allies, including Jonah, an unrefined cowboy who has secret aspirations of his own.


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About The Author

Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. After earning a degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences, she discovered her heart truly lies with the art of story. She put pen to page and never looked back.