Carrie Fancett Pagels writes stories about overcoming with God’s help. She is an ECPA-bestselling award-winning author of Christian historical romance. Carrie won the Maggie Award for Excellence medallion in 2018 for her novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination.
When a deadly yellow fever outbreak draws Cornelia Gill back home, her new independent life must be abandoned. Injured veteran, Carter Williams, likewise must return to Dogwood Plantation when he suffers grievous family losses. Both become caretakers to younger family members. As the War of 1812 heats up, two wounded hearts begin to heal. But can they manage all that life has handed them?
What inspired you to write this story?
A combo of my own genealogical research, reading about historical events in Charles City, and visits to Shirley Plantation inspired this story. I’d found ancestors in Virginia who had died within a day of one another and I wondered about that and I came upon an article about an epidemic in Charles City that had killed many people in a short time. Then I visited Shirley Plantation, actually with my MIL while I was still a psychologist and not writing fiction. I heard a family story, according to the docent, which touched my heart.
So the story question was: What if you had parents who died closely together and someone in the family had to raise those children? And what if you were sympathetic to abolitionists and were forced to hold, in trust, a plantation and slaves for the minor child who would inherit? And what if all this occurred during the War of 1812?
What were your goals in writing Dogwood Plantation?
I wanted to look at how hard it would have been to have lived during this time (War of 1812) and to have come up against a situation (slavery) which was untenable but out of your immediate control. What would you have done? As a caretaker of young people, how would you attempt to influence them? And what if you had your own issues, physical injuries, to deal with, too?
Also, a darker thread in this story is that of incest and sexual abuse. I’m not especially overt with it, but I have a character who has experienced this abuse and I show the impact she has on so many other people! This is based on my 25 years as a psychologist working mostly with children. This is not what the story is about, but this thread is woven through the story. I’d like readers to understand that people who engage in inappropriate behavior sometimes have some terrible backstory that has contributed.
What do you want readers to take away after reading Dogwood Plantation?
There is always hope. You can overcome, with God’s help. My tagline is ‘Overcoming with God’.
God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. He sees the “big picture” and we have to trust in Him.
We can do our best to influence the next generation but in the end it is up to them to make the choices and we have to pray God will work in their lives and that they will walk in obedience to His will.
What are the challenges (or benefits) of writing “romances” as a Christian author?
I am physically disabled from RA and OA so writing is a physical challenge to me with chronic pain as I have never gone into remission. The benefit is that when I walk in obedience to God and keep writing, He has blessed those efforts.
I’ve been so encouraged and had my life enriched by the many readers and authors and industry professionals with whom I have worked! FamilyFiction blessed me by being my first contest win for my short story, “The Quilting Contest,” in the Historical category for The Story contest some years ago.
Specific to “romance” writing, I’ve found you do have some people who look down upon this genre. I’m actually moving more over to Women’s Fiction and Inspirational Suspense, with a WF title Butterfly Cottage releasing this Spring and a dual-timeline suspense with romantic elements book titled Behind Love’s Wall (November, 2021) in the Barbour Publishing Doors to the Past Series.
What does it take to research the period where and when your novel takes place?
I prefer to visit in person whenever possible. In fact, I have only one book where I haven’t actually visited the location, a novella set in Kansas. Although it takes a lot more research for a historical fiction, I’ve found that for contemporary fiction simply being in the location during the present time can yield so much more information for the reader. This is one of the reasons I return to the Straits of Mackinac, where a number of my stories are set, during the summers. The details that go into my upcoming releases are from weeks in the setting versus vs. weeks in the library or online doing research. And it doesn’t hurt that I love the area! I live in Virginia, so my Virginia-set stories have been super fun to research onsite at the many historical places we have here in the Commonwealth! FF
Visit Carrie Fancett Pagels’s author page here:
Dogwood Plantation: Love Along the James River
Carrie Fancett Pagels
Hearts Overcoming Press
Buy the book here (affiliate link)