Interview with Author Patty Henderson

Patty Henderson

Patty G. Henderson

I’m a Tampa, Florida native and still live in beautiful, Palm tree-lined South Tampa. I got hooked on mystery and supernatural literature after I read Edgar Allan Poe in junior high and soon after, discovered Gothic Romances.  The dark side still fascinates me and I lament the loss of some of the old style literature of the greats in the genre.  

I’m a firm believer in the romantic gothic element.  I write Gothic Historical Romances.  So far, there are three, THE SECRET OF LIGHTHOUSE POINTE, CASTLE OF DARK SHADOWS and my latest, PASSION FOR VENGEANCE.  These are total homages to the old paperback Gothics available at drugstores, department stores, grocery stores and every place paperback books were sold in the 1960s and 1970s. In my Gothic books, though, the girl gets the girl and the sex is much steamier! I’ve also written four books in the Brenda Strange Paranormal Mystery Series, THE BURNING OF HER SIN, TANGLED AND DARK, THE MISSING PAGE and XIMORA

When I’m not writing or thinking of plot lines in my head, I love spending time with my family friends, coffee shops, fine wine and enjoying being out in the weekend evenings under the soothing power of the moon. I love thunderstorms with rolling thunder and the quiet beauty of a cemetery. There is also lots more room for cats in my home. One can never have enough felines. I’ve had cats since I can remember and fondly recall each one with love for all the joy they brought me. I also create book covers and offer other book services for the indie author via my Boulevard Photografica business services. I enjoy collecting teddy bears, playing Pokemon, and old black and white films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. All things historical interest me.

Stephanie: Hello, Patty! Thank you for chatting with me today and welcome on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Passion for Vengeance. Please tell me about your story?

Patty: PASSION FOR VENGEANCE, at it’s center heart, is a Romance. A story about betrayal, guilt, punishment, salvation and love. Set in the decade following the Civil War, we are thrust into the lives of the Havens Family, a once proud and wealthy family, now downtrodden and borrowing to keep their familial home, Havenswood, afloat. Jane Havens is one of three Havens siblings still left at Havenswood, and starved of all her previous priviledged life and love, Jane Havens becomes immediately enamoured of Emma Stiles, the new governess for her youngest brother, Henry. When Emma Stiles, beautiful, mysterious and oozing sex appeal arrives, Jane Havens knows that the woman will become special in her life. What she doesn’t know is that Emma Stiles brings with her secrets….secrets that will drag all the skeletons hiding in the Havens family closet out for airing. But the love between Emma and Jane, born of a damaged past and a hungry thirst for love between them, could not be torn apart.

Stephanie: What a fascinating premise and time period! What was your inspiration and what interest you most about this era?

Patty: I’ve always been a history buff, always considering it my fave subject at school (gosh, that was so long ago! LOL). I really read and studied the Civil War, and having written Gothic Romances in other historical periods like Victorian and War of 1812, I decided to set one in post Civil War. It allowed me the opportunity to bring in some of the dreadful fallout from the war and how it painfully touched not only the South but many families everywhere.

Stephanie: What are the challenges writing Gothic Romance? Was there research involved?

Patty: Like most genres, Romance has its template and general outline for a story. Same for the Gothic Romance. Gothic Romance is best rememered as those cheap paperbacks you could buy at your local drug store or grocery story with covers picturing a dark castle and frightened heroine running from it. My Gothics are homages to these old, fun Gothic Romances with the twist being the romance is lesbian romance. The template for Gothic Romance is that you must have a heroine in distress, a dark, brooding hero, but in my case, since I write lesbian fiction, a dark, brooding heroine who is either suspect of dark deeds or not, an unstoppable attraction between the two of them, murder, suspense or both, a menacing or decaying castle or mansion and…of course….steamy romance for today’s readers. LOL. The challenge comes in creating a story that is fresh and intersting with each Gothic. I mean, there are only so many ways and reasons to get our herione to a castle, etc. LOL. Coming up with creative plots and characters that don’t become too cookie cutter or two dimensional is extremely important. If a reader feels all the books are telling the same story about the same people, then you will lose readers. But especially for PASSION FOR VENGEANCE, I had to do some research for an obscure but frightening practice: Sin Eating. The sin eater eats and drinks food arranged atop the body of a deceased person and by doing this, he/she “eats” or consumes the sins of the dead so they can pass without sin. I found that this ritual cleansing and belief originated in Scotland and England, and some say as far back as the Aztecs. I wanted to make sure that sin eating was practiced here in the USA. Apparently, while there is no written records, tales say that sin eating was practiced in the Apalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries and maybe later.


Stephanie: What is Jane Haven’s strengths and weaknesses?

Patty: Without a doubt, Jane Haven’s strength is her belief in complete salvation with love. She believes she can save her brother, Cole, from the alcohol addiction. She believes she can save Emma Stiles’s tortured soul. She also has a strong faith, although she questions it with a healthy dose of reality. I would say that her weakness is trusting too much in the goodness of others without realizing that trust must be earned. Living a sheltered life at Havenswood did not help her in this respect.

Stephanie: Have you learned anything new about the civil war writing this story that you didn’t know before?

Patty: I can’t say that I did, because I had been a Civil War buff for so long, but I so very much enjoyed being able to actually write and set a story in the time period.

Stephanie: What was your process in writing this story?

Patty: I write all my novels longhand, on yellow legal pads. I then transfer everything to the computer. A little time consuming, I know, but I just cannot sit and create in front of a computer. I love the organic flow of pen to paper. It really helps the muse. I’m of the type where I need distractions around me to create, so I go to my favorite Starbucks, find a comfy seat, set pen to paper and write. I love the “white noise” and hum of conversation, music, etc. that is there in Starbucks but I am totally able to tune it out when I am in writing mode. Also, music is a big motivator. I sometimes set playlists for all my books, somewhat like a soundtrack, and use that for writing time. And I don’t outline. I have the general story down in my head and go from there. I may jot down paragaphs, sentences, etc. that pop up, but mostly I am a “pantser” although I do have the general plot already in mind. That does change sometimes, though.

Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?

Patty: Oh, I always love to talk about books I’m working on. Currently, I am about half way into my new Gothic Historical Romance, WHERE EVIL DWELLS. It is a Gothic Romance where a tragic triangle of romance defies even death!

Stephanie: Do you use an outline for your stories or just write?

Patty: I think I touched a bit on this in my writing process response. I don’t really outline. I have the general outline in my head. I might jot down characters, etc, but not much. I write in a linear fashion. I cannot proceed if I don’t finish one chapter. I know some writers can write the ending or a chapter out of order but I must write in linear order. LOL.

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Patty: For readers who have not read a Gothic Historical Romance, a world of dark suspense, adventure, danger and steamy romance awaits you. For some who might find a romance between two women not something you want to read, think more open-minded. The storytelling, setting, atmosphere are not different than mainstream romances and you might find yourself looking forward to my next Gothic Historical Romance!

To my regular readers, WHERE EVIL DWELLS should be published end of this year, 2014.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Patty: It was some time ago, so my memory fails, but a fellow author wrote about her being accepted as a BRAG Honoree some time back and I wanted to see if I could get a BRAG Honoree for one of my books. And it is quite an honor for which I am so grateful.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Patty: All my Gothic Romances and other books, including the Brenda Strange Paranormal Mystery Series, are available at and Barnes and as eBooks or trade paperbacks. I also have Audio Book Versions of PASSION FOR VENGEANCE and another Gothic Romance, CASTLE OF DARK SHADOWS.

Thank you so much for the opportunity, Stephanie, to let me talk about PASSION FOR VENGEANCE and Gothic Romances.

Author Website

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Patty Henderson, who is the author of, Passion for Vengeance, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Passion for Vengeance merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with Ruth Hull Chatlien

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

Book Description:

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy.

Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage.

Stephanie: Hello, Ruth! Welcome to Layered Pages and thank you for chatting with me today. What are Betsey’s strengths and weaknesses?

Ruth: I think Betsy’s greatest strength was her incredible determination. She overcame things that might have crushed someone with less fortitude. But as with most people, her greatest strength was also one of her greatest weaknesses. She wasn’t a flexible woman, and she clung to a particular, narrow vision of what her life should be long after most people would have reevaluated their goals.

Stephanie: Historically how does Jerome’s role play a part in Napoleon’s ambitions?

Ruth: To understand the role that Jerome played in Napoleon’s ambitions, it’s necessary to recall that Europe in the 1800s was very different from today. There was no Germany as we know it but rather a number of independent German states. These were part of the Holy Roman Empire, a loose confederation of states in Central Europe that had existed since the 900s. In Napoleon’s time, it included Austria (France’s great enemy) and was ruled by the Austrian emperor, Francis II. Part of Napoleon’s grand design was to woo German states away from the Holy Roman Empire and into a new Confederation of the Rhine—thus strengthening his empire and weakening that of Francis. Napoleon wanted Jerome to aid in this plan by marrying a German princess and becoming the ruler of a German kingdom. After defeating Austria at Austerlitz, Napoleon did succeed in creating his confederation and bringing about the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. However, the Germans’ loyalty to Napoleon never ran very deep, and the confederation fell apart after the disaster of the Russian campaign.

Stephanie: Is there a particular scene you found a challenge to write?

Ruth: The shipwreck scene was a challenge because I’ve never lived through anything like that. I read several accounts of shipwrecks—looking especially for incidents caused by ships running onto sandbars—before I felt confident enough to construct the sequence of events.

Stephanie: What was the research involved?

Ruth: I started by reading five nonfiction books about Betsy Bonaparte. I also read biographies of Jerome, Napoleon, Dolley Madison, and the Caton sisters. A number of books helped me acquire information about Baltimore architecture, an excursion to Niagara Falls in 1800, period dress, the War of 1812, and forms of transportation. And I traveled to Baltimore to visit historic homes, Fort McHenry, a 19th century warship, and the Maryland Historical Society.

Stephanie: What do you like most about writing historical fiction?

Ruth: I love finding out more about the context of historical character’s lives and imagining how both the details of their daily routine and the great events of their time affected them. And I love finding that perfect detail that serves my story in ways beyond what I imagined. For example, one day, I stumbled across the story that the 15-year-old Jerome had emotionally manipulated his older brother into giving him the sword used at the Battle of Marengo. That sword became an invaluable prop in my story.

Stephanie: What interested you most about this period?

Ruth:It was fascinating to see how relatively unsophisticated, uncultured, and disrespected the United States was in that time period. We tend to look at the past through our present lens of being a great superpower and a far-reaching cultural influence. But in the early 1800s, Europeans considered the United States to be an insignificant backwater. That was one of the reasons Napoleon refused to consider that Betsy might be an appropriate wife for his brother.

Stephanie: What are some of the fictional aspects to this story?

Ruth: I didn’t make up any of the major events of Betsy’s life, but within the broad sweep of those events, many specific episodes are fictionalized. For example, Betsy and Jerome did really travel to Niagara when it was still wilderness, but there are no recorded details of that journey. I had to research what their likely mode of travel would be, and I invented all the encounters they had during the excursion. Similarly, I knew that Betsy claimed to have received a prophecy as a child, but I found no record of what the exact prophecy was. I made up the content to suit the needs of my story.

Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?

Ruth: My writing has taken a backseat the last four months while I’ve undergone treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer. Now that I’ve completed radiation, I’ve started to research my next novel, which is based on the true story of a woman who was taken captive during one of the most brutal Indian wars in U.S. history. Her world is a far cry from Betsy’s, but the two women share the quality of being fierce survivors. Now that I’m a survivor myself, that theme has a strong meaning for me.

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Ruth: I love hearing from readers, and I’m open to doing call-ins with book clubs who are reading the novel. People can contact me at the following sites:

my blog:

my Facebook page:

Buy the Book

Amazon (Paperback) Amazon (Kindle) Barnes & Noble (Paperback) Barnes & Noble (Nook)

About the Author

Ruth Hull Chatlien

Ruth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for twenty-five years. Her specialty is U.S. and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders and has published several short stories and poems in literary magazines. The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is her first published novel.

She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, March 31 Review at Unabridged Chick Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, April 1 Review at A Bookish Affair Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, April 2 Review at HF Book Muse-News Interview at Layered Pages

Thursday, April 3 Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee Interview at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 4 Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, April 7 Review at The Maiden’s Court Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, April 8 Review at The Lit Bitch Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, April 9 Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, April 10 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews Review at Historical Fiction Obsession Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 11 Review at Let Them Read Books Review at The True Book Addict

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