Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Interview: Kathleen Maher & Carrie Fancett Pagels


I’m so excited to have not one, but TWO authors here on Faith~Driven Fiction today. Kathleen Maher and Carrie Fancett Pagels are both involved in a series of novellas set during the Cival War. And we’ve got something extra special! Carrie is giving away a copy of her just released Return to Shirley Plantation! Kathleen also has a giveaway, but because her book isn’t available for another few weeks, she’s got a special Irish gift to go with the setting of her story, Bachelor Buttons, which comes out on May 1. Both gifts will go to one reader on Friday. Check below to find out how to enter. And make sure I have a way to reach you! Winner will be announced on Friday, April 12.

civilwar virginia reelMarji: What is the background for your story? Does your novella deal with a specific battle or situation during the Civil War? 

Carrie (authors the first book, Return to Shirley Plantation): Charles City, Virginia, at the historic Shirley Plantation, which was occupied by both the Union and the Confederate armies during 1862-63, when my story is set. The Carter family’s plantation was used as a field hospital. My novella features biracial characters and the issue of white slavery which was highlighted by Abolitionists and I also address the issue of “passing for white.” Also, there is inclusion of Copperhead politics and the impact that could have on a family, in this case a fictitious one.

Kathy (authors the third book, Bachelor Buttons, available on May 1): My story is set in New York City, July 1863, on the lower east side of Manhattan. It was a mostly Irish and German immigrant section, and the tensions are escalating as Lincoln’s Conscription Act has just taken effect. What commences is the infamous NYC Draft Riots, where angry mobs of poor working immigrants, mostly Irish, storm the Draft office and dozens of other spots in Manhattan in protest to what they felt was a prejudicial law.

Marji: It never ceases to amaze me the multitude of stories that can be absorbed from an era. And your series involves only a 2-year span. Blows my mind. So, how did this series initially begin and how did you become part of it?

Kathy: Best-selling author Murray Pura (Harvest House) arranged with Giovanni Gelati of Helping Hands Press to gather a collection of Civil War short stories and novellas commemorating the 150th anniversary of battles and events that occurred in 1863. Murray began recruiting authors to submit stories.

Carrie: I got a Facebook message one night from Murray, who has been on my Overcoming With God group blog and whose books my reviewers love. In particular, Marian Baay, a freelance editor for Kok Publishing in the Netherlands, adores Murray’s books and reads almost everything he writes.  One of my friends, Karen Anna Grassi Vogel, and I had talked about me writing a colonial novella for Helping Hands and I had just sent that to my agent with this Civil War project came in.

Kathy: He contacted me to ask if I would like to be a part. Carrie had recommended me, and rumor has it that Murray was one of my judges from the Genesis contest last year when I won the historical category with my Civil War novel. However it came about, I am thrilled to be participating.
Marji: It must be fun to work together with a buddy! What is it about the Civil War era that jazzes you?

Carrie: I got excited about a story set in this era when I heard a guide at Shirley Plantation explain about how the ladies helped the Union army and were giving protection from General McClellan. I was greatly moved by the idea of these ladies taking care of the wounded soldiers.

Kathy: I have loved the Civil War since I was a teen, learning that the boys who fought in it were my age then. My hometown of Elmira, NY has some fascinating CW history, too, so I was hooked!

Marji: Sounds like this series is truly hitting you gals square in your passion. Where did the nugget for your particular story stem from?

Civil war villageCarrie: I actually got part of my inspiration from something I read and misunderstood—a long story, but thankfully Kathy helped me out with a real-life situation like mine in my novella.  That was definitely a God thing.  There was an Ohio congressman who was court-martialed (a civilian elected official!) He was taken by the Union army and later turned over to the Confederate army.

Marji: Oh my gosh! That sounds intriguing – and a little shocking. And again, a great time to work with a buddy! How about you Kathy?

Kathy: My inspiration comes from my family history. My mother’s great grandmother Katherine Meehan was an Irish immigrant in NYC at this time. I have grown up hearing stories from her remarkable life, and used one to highlight an event in the Civil War that few have ever heard about. I blog about New York State history, too, so it fit perfectly for this collection.

Marji: Isn’t cool how things like that come together? How long have you been pursuing a writing career and do you have any other published pieces?

Carrie: I co-authored a chapter in a nonfiction psychology book three decades ago. I was a psychologist for 25 years. I recently contributed to a nonfiction book publishing in May 2013. Like most writers I’ve been writing most of my life. I have published psychology book reviews in professional periodicals. I’ve also published online for e-zines. This is my first published fiction other than a couple of online serial stories I participate in. I have several manuscripts out on submission—prayers appreciated!

Kathy: I’ve been writing stories since 1984, and kept them in three ring binders for years. In 2007 I entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award with a hope of breaking in. LOL I didn’t, but it led me to find ACFW where I learned the craft of writing as a profession, and the rest is history. This will be my first published piece.

Marji: Oh, I’m so excited for you both! I got to see my name on my first book cover last December. It was only a chapter that I contributed, but just seeing my name there is oh-so-cool! And Carrie, definite prayers going up. Make sure you keep us in the loop! Okay, I know WHAT you like to write, so WHERE do you most like to write?

Carrie: Weather permitting I take my laptop out on the deck and type at the glass-topped table.  But that is maybe half the year.  The other half I type at the dining room table and look out the French doors to my backyard.

Kathy: I love to sit in my teal leather recliner with my laptop and tune the world out right in the middle of our busy living room. I hate to be far from the family, but sometimes I have to stay up into the wee hours to get everything done.

Marji: Omigosh, Kathy, you sound like me. I’ve learned I can get a lot done while “watching” a Texas Ranger game with the family. LOL! What does a normal day (if there is such a thing) usually look like for you?

Carrie: I get up and get my boy off to school.  I watch Joyce Meyer.  I check for important emails and FB messages. Then I go to the writing table and I set the timer and work on a project for a half hour at a time usually.  I get up in between and do chores.  I aim for a minimum of 2 hours daily.  I try to keep a regular routine.  There are few days when I don’t write or do something writing related.

Kathy: Chaos? Heehee. Well, I have learned to be flexible with my husband’s third shift hours, two kids in middle school and lots of appointments and activities, a son and daughter-in-law with my first grand on the way, and my elderly mother living with us. Plus two Newfoundland dogs, and a cat that rules the house. I make my schedule fit around everyone else’s plans, with lots of prayer.

Marji: And what are some of your favorite things?

Kathy: I have grown very attached to my coffee. Eight o’clock French Vanilla is my friend! And it makes me easier to live with, I am sure.  😉 But I love tea in the afternoon or evening. And chocolate. Copious amounts of chocolate.

Carrie: I like doing beads but haven’t in a while though I plan to do more bead designs as giveaways on my blogs.  I love inspirational music, including writing music that isn’t Christian inspiration necessarily.  For instance I recently discovered Mumford and Sons and their song “I Will Wait” is the song for Angelina and for Matthew in my story. I love colonial music and dulcimer.  Also fiddle music. I love to find great music to write to that inspires a story.  In fact, it kinda bums me out if I can’t find something awesome to listen to while I am writing on a project. I haven’t found the music yet for my next project, which I begin on Monday so I feel a little frantic.  It sets the mood for me.

Marji: Being a musician, I’ve always been influenced by music as well, Carrie. I hope you find your song! And how do these books satisfy your purpose for writing?

Carrie: For whatever reasons, He (God) opened this door and led me through it, Colonial gal that I am.  I love how I got to write about biracial characters which I understand is atypical in the general CBA market although I am not sure why. Our society is composed of many people of multi-racial backgrounds. I love to ask “what if,” and I tried to really balance out this story.  Because there were Christian people supporting soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, granted the Confederate Christians being in err in their support of keeping people enslaved.

Kathy: Much of this story is purely fun for me, to be honest. But I can never get too far from that (my) purpose. The Irish were maligned as they came to the US en masse during the Potato Famine. Many were depicted as brutes, drunks, and dullards. But there were also people of devout and sincere faith, dedicated family men, honorable and selfless women. I wanted to show good people especially in the midst of mob mentality when many Irish didn’t behave honorably. My characters chose to do the right thing, including defending freed blacks who were targeted by the riots.

Marji: Wow, exceptional goals for your books. Sounds like you both had a great time writing them. Hoping they both get a warm reception. And thanks for visiting! I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you both better!

Kathy: Marji, thank you so much for allowing me to share with your readers a little about myself and my novella. This was fun! I would love to hear from your readers what they enjoy about history and answer any questions they might have.

Carrie: Thanks so much for the opportunity to visit on your blog and interact with your readers!

Irish mug and flagAs promised, I have a giveaway! Yea! Carrie’s e-book, Return to Shirley Plantation has already received some GREAT reviews – all 5-stars at this writing – is being offered since it has been released. I have one copy to go to a visitor. You can get up to 3 entries – Woohoo! I know some of you are history buffs and I’d love to have Carrie send her book to you! So:

  • Sign up for my newsletter, or
  • Leave a comment for Carrie and Kathy, or
  • Give a Facebook shout-out about this article, or
  • All three!

Here’s a little more about this great series by Murray Pura!

150 years ago the history of America changed forever. Live 1863 through the stories of some of our finest writers – the passion, the romance, the tragedy, and the triumph.

A new story by a different author released every two weeks between April and November. Join us for one of the most exciting events in American inspirational publishing – Helping Hands Press presents CRY OF FREEDOM!

And here’s the premise for Carrie’s Book, Return to Shirley Plantation:
Abducted against his will, Matthew Scott is conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a freed slave. Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins who are still enslaved. Will Matthew’s return to Shirley Plantation settle a mystery concerning his father’s past? And help Matthew find the family he longs for.

Kathy’s book, Bachelor Buttons,
will release on May 1st.
I’ll be updating this when the release gets closer.

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

36 thoughts on “Interview: Kathleen Maher & Carrie Fancett Pagels

  1. Pingback: Another Winner! Woohoo! | Marji Laine: Author

  2. I would LOVE to win this!!! I really enjoy civil war times novellas and I love the authors 😉 !!!

    Awesome book guys! 🙂


  3. I love Civil War history, and my husband is a history major. I read aloud to him while he watches sports, so we’d both enjoy winning a book.


    • This whole series sounds right down your alley, Connie!


    • Nice to “meet” you, Connie. 🙂 That sounds like a wonderful symbiotic arrangement! I hope you get a chance to read one of ours to him! Or both stories–I wouldn’t complain about that one bit!
      Thanks for visiting.


    • CONNIE, that is cool! You should love this series then, by Murray Pura! My hubby likes history, too, and even helped brainstorm my upcoming colonial-era novel with me (my son did, too!) We are all history geeks! Blessings!


  4. Marji, Thanks for letting us get to know these two ladies better. Both books sound intriguing.


  5. I’ve read Carrie’s novella and thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to reading Kathleen’s 🙂


  6. Hey Ladies! I’m so happy and so proud of both of you! Kathy, your story is awesome. Everyone is going to love it. Carrie, I am going to buy yours. I’m looking forward to it. I know it will be great, too. Thanks for the great interview, Marji.


    • So glad you enjoyed it Debbie!


    • Hey, Debbie Lynne! Thank you so much for swinging by on your vacation. You’re the sweetest! I owe a great debt of gratitude to you and Carrie for polishing the story for me. I’d be lost in my head-hopping mess without great CP’ers like you!


    • Debbie Lynne how did you manage this on the road? I tried calling you tonight but got a fast busy signal! I hope your trip through VA ended up being very fruitful. Thanks so much for being willing to buy my novella! Blessings and hugs!!!


  7. LOVED this interview with Carrie and Kathleen — soooo fun learning more about both of you ladies. Great job with the questions, Marji, and I am reading Carrie’s novella right now and loving it!!



    • hey, Julie! So nice to see you here. Carrie’s novella is a treat, isn’t it? What a privilege it has been to work with this amazingly talented and gracious lady. Enjoy!


    • Oh I love reading author interviews about books I’m reading. Like I can be part of the story! So glad you’re enjoying it, Julie! Thanks for stopping by!


    • JULIE!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEE!!!!! I got your amazing email earlier tonight. So glad you loved the novella!!!! Thanks so much for all your help. You are such a blessing!!!! Hugs!!!


  8. I can’t wait for this book! Thanks for the chance to win it!


    • These are two of the novellas that are part of Cry of Freedom series that Murray Pura pulled together. There will be a paperback book in the fall, too. Thanks for coming by!


    • Thanks, Megan. Right now the novellas are releasing as individual ebooks, but later at the end of the year, they will all be compiled into one large volume and sold in print. It’s a must-have for any history buff and Civil War aficionado.


  9. Both books sound great! I’d love to read both of them!


  10. How lovely this turned out. So wonderful to be here this week. Thank you so much, Marji!


  11. Marji, Thanks for having us on your blog this week! blessings!