Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Indian reservations and "Time"? Interview with Author Catherine Richmond

Sophia has her life all planned out-but her plan didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory.

Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions.
With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in uncivilized Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known-and never expected-and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.
It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their homeland and marched hundreds of miles to bleak Indian Territory, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

Catherine was busy raising a family, working as an occupational therapist, and trying to remember where she hid the chocolate, when a song sparked a story within her. The journey to her publication has been long, but full of blessings. She couldn’t have done it without ACFWRWA, and FHL, the inspirational chapter of RWA, and Nebraska Novelists critique group.

She was born in Washington, DC, grew up in northern Virginia, attended Western Michigan University, and moved around a lot for her husband’s aviation career. Her favorite place to write is the porch. Then she rewards herself with reading time in her air chair – and chocolate, of course!
For more information about Catherine, visit her website at and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Ten Questions for Author Catherine Richmond
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
When you hear the words "Civil Rights," you probably think of the March on Washington, school integration, Martin Luther King's speeches. What about a courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska?
It was there in 1879 that Ponca Chief Standing Bear successfully argued that Native Americans are people in the eyes of the law. The shocking events leading to the trial - shaking my pride in being an American, but confirming my faith in God and His people - became Through Rushing Water.
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
My first novel, Spring for Susannah, had taken nineteen years from inspiration to publication. I only had a year until the second novel was due, so I figured I'd better set it in the same time period and close to home.
The most important event in Omaha during the 1870s was the trial of Standing Bear. During research, I found a Russian woman had taught on the Ponca Reservation. A woman with the same name taught French at Vassar, an elite women's college in New York. What if it was the same woman ? Ka-boom - a story was ignited!
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
I've got a story to tell!
God made us all unique, with different cultures, values, experiences - not to mention the enormous gulf between men and women. When romance works, it must be a miracle!
And history. How can you understand current events - from the turmoil in Egypt to the vote to allow alcohol on the Pine Ridge reservation - without knowing the context? Making those connections is fascinating!
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
I don't know how anyone can write about a place without visiting it - and why would you miss the opportunity? Researching Spring for Susannah was an eye-opener for this city girl. I was used to standing-room-only East Coast campgrounds - what fun to have North Dakota parks to ourselves, to be able to see the stars and watch the wildlife!
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
My mother is a Virginia history librarian. Her passion for history - understanding the connections between events and people - inspires me. My next story will be set in Virginia - we have so much fun researching together!
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
The writing journey has gone from horse-and-buggy to supersonic since I started in 1991. Instead of interlibrary loan, we've got Google Books. We don't have to live in Manhattan to meet editors, agents, and critique partners. And readers and writers can connect here at Pens on a World Map! 
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
Don't go there! Seriously, with a journey as long as mine, I'd tell myself to stress less and enjoy more.
Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
Paris! No, wait - New York City! Edinburgh! What about Quito, Ecuador? Falmouth, Jamaica? Camp Highroad, Virginia? 
Morgan, I was thinking the other day about travel. No matter how comfortable I am in another country, when the customs agent stamps my passport and says "Welcome home," I always feel a huge rush of relief, patriotism, and gratitude.
Have you felt that? I'm guessing that's a hint of the feeling we'll get when we arrive in heaven!
I have felt that too when welcomed home, Cathy. And I think that’s a fantastic analogy for Heaven. :)
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
My daughter just moved to Martinez, California. I'd love to visit her and explore the area - the redwoods, John Muir's house, Ghirardelli chocolate factory - together.
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
What if there were a place called "Time?" We could explore and research, write and rewrite to our heart's content. Handsome assistants would pop in regularly to assure us our marketing plan is steaming along and provide copious amounts of chocolate to sustain us. 
Editors would call to say our latest check has been deposited and, oh by the way, that last manuscript was brilliant.


  1. Lovely, fun post. Looks like I've found another blog worth keeping an eye on. :)

    Love, love, love travel blogs!

    1. So glad you've stopped by, Caroline! You've come to the right spot! I love travel and writing! :)

  2. Sounds like a good book, love the cover and title.
    Wondering what song led to this work? :)

    1. Diane, Spring for Susannah was inspired by Harry Chapin's Mail Order Annie. I had permission from his estate to use the beautiful lyrics as a prologue, but the publisher didn't want to do that. So at the last minute, I had to change the title and names of the characters. It was a wrench, but I'm so glad this story is finally in print!

  3. This place-called-"Time" idea is fantastic. Sign me up! ;)

    Through Rushing Water sounds like a great read! I will have to add it to my list...

  4. Caroline, Diane, and Brandy - thanks so much for visiting at Morgan's blog! I love hearing from readers, so I hope you'll keep in touch!