Coyote Wilder knew he would always be an outcast and shunned by many. He grew up fighting and thought his life would probably end in a gunfight.
Fate brought these two unlikely people together and love swept them both away. Now would either of their prophesies prove true or would fate step in and offer another alternative?
Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome back Susan Payne and Hope St. Michaels from There's Always Hope, a novella length historical romance released by the Wild Rose Press. First up is Hope.
Where are you from? New York, or there abouts. I was raised in the St. Michaels Foundling Home and my friends urged me to come to Sweetwater and take the position of teacher for the new school.
Tell us a bit about There’s Always Hope. I think the play of words, using my name, was done so others would know that no matter how difficult or fearful something is, there’s always hope. Something to believe in that is bigger than all of us. It’s like Faith and Charity, my two best friends. With those three things anything can be accomplished. Can be over-come. Like my birth-defect. The discoloration covers the right side of my face, yet I no longer think about it. I know it's there, but it doesn’t define me. Having faith and believing in other people’s charity put the mark into perspective.
What did you think the first time you saw Coyote Wilder? That he was dark and sinister and dangerous – but not to me. Only to law-breakers who thought they could prey on others without protection. Wilder became a bounty hunter to help local lawmen keep their towns safe. He’s now the deputy and I know we all feel protected with him around.
What was your second thought? That I liked this man very much although I never thought I would marry him. I was a teacher. There are rules about being married, but it wasn’t just that. I thought with my defect covering half my face, no man would ever want to marry me. Wilder showed me how beauty isn’t skin color or perfection. Beauty is deeper.
Was it love at first sight? No, he frightened me. He was following me around and I finally confronted him. Either he left me alone or I’d get Sheriff Mason to do something about him.
What do you like most about him? Wilder is the most sensitive man you’ll ever find. Something he tries to hide. Something that worked in his favor when hunting outlaws. He ‘reads’ people and it doesn’t take him long before he understands what everyone thinks and wants. Kind of like living with a mind-reader or fortune teller.
How would you describe him? Dark, dangerous, dependable. In a fight he’d be the man you want on your side. He is loyal and ethical. Perhaps that’s what makes him a good lawman for Sweetwater.
How would he describe you? He thinks I’m beautiful even though I tell him he’s prejudiced. He says he can’t believe his good fortune in finding me, in marrying a woman so out of his reach.
What made you choose teaching as a career? I love children and with my disfigurement, I didn’t think I’d ever have any of my own. The nuns were good teachers and I wanted to influence the next generation, as they had. Reading is so important and the world is changing. It’s going to require educated citizens so they can make the right decisions when it comes to voting and making laws.
What is your biggest fear? Of course, I worry about wars and such, but not as much now that I have Wilder. He’s been a consolation merely being nearby.
How do you relax? I read and knit. I like to cook when I have the time. When school isn’t in session. I love to visit with all my friends here in Sweetwater.
Who is your favorite fictional character? I really have too many to pick out just one. I once tried to count how many books I’ve read for entertainment and it was over two-hundred and still counting. I like, Emma, and a few characters from Pride and Prejudice.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Miss Lily, a very wise woman told me: 'A person’s value is not found on the outside. It’s not how they look or where they were born or raised. It’s what makes up their core. If that’s rotten, there isn’t any saving them.'
Hope brought along an excerpt for us:
As soon as Jeremy was off the bottom step, Faith turned to Hope and asked frantically, “Where is he? That man. You’ve got to get him out of here before Jeremy gets back or he’ll shoot him - if I don’t.”
Hope tried collecting her thoughts and protect Wilder at the same time. “Faith, I don’t know….”
“None of that, Hope. You’ve had a man in here and you need to send him on his way - now!” said Faith keeping herself from looking behind the diaphanous curtains trying to find Wilder. She knew it had to be Wilder. Who else would compromise a sweet kind girl like Hope? Take advantage of her gratefulness for his saving her life. Faith whipped herself mentally for not remaining with Hope as she first intended. She knew deep down Hope was too vulnerable to be left on her own.
“Faith, wait, you need to understand. I love him, really love him and I am so lucky he feels the same,” admitted Hope trying to make her friend understand.
Faith gazed at Hope as if she were a kicked kitten. “Look, men say all kinds of things, darling. It’s in their nature to get what they want. But you don’t need to feel you owe him anything. He does what he does to make money and not for any other reason. We’ll all help you through this but he has to go.”
“If he goes, I go. I won’t let my husband be sent away from me. I belong with him,” Hope said adamantly, not understanding how angry Faith was at Wilder.
“Wait…your husband? You married that man?” asked Faith incredulously which was almost more insulting than anything else Faith had said
Hope, we thank you for taking time away from the students—and your new husband—Hope. We'd like to chat with Susan.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? All the old- time western movies. I enjoyed watching them as a youngster and continued watching them as they came out on TV: . Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Branded…they caught my attention. I feel at home there – in that time period.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? I knew of a young girl with a wine-stain birthmark. Her mother dressed her in pretty clothes, ribbons in her hair, and tried to make her daughter appear ‘normal’. But I could see the girl was very self-conscious about the discolored skin. I often think of this girl and hope her life turned out for the best. That she found a man to love her, that her children appreciate who is, that she accepted that the mark did not define her. That people saw her, as well.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? The Wild Rose Press is fantastic to work with. They self-publish as well as contract with authors to publish them.
What book[s] currently rest on your TBR pile? Like most authors, I have a great reading list. Too many to list since I have a wide taste of genres. Historical, of course, but also biographies and auto-biographies, mystery, real-life stories.
Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? The last of the Sweetwater series was released May 6, 2020. The first story is New Banker In Town. An ex-civil war officer comes to Sweetwater and finds his lost love who he thought abandoned him for a rich land-owner. She is fighting her own battles left-over from the war but they do find love. The second story in the book is Happy Endings. As the titles suggests, I tie up loose ends into, what else, but Happy Endings. New loves are found, some old loves reconnected, and the citizens of Sweetwater come together for a bright future.
But there are more in the wings? Yes, a couple of Regency novels. The Persistent Marquess is under contract and A Regency Christmas by the end of the year. Also, a western historical of a female doctor in Texas, Forever Kind of Women.
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e-mail: email@example.com I’d love to hear from my readers or simply people wanting to ‘chat’.