Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bailey Bristol The IAN Interview

Bailey Bristol is an author of both historical and contemporary suspense. Family bonds, enduring love, menacing villains and unforgettable characters are prominent in her stories set in unlikely places. Whether you meet a heroine backstage at the Vienna opera, or at the bottom of an Ohio coal chute, or find your hero about to die trying to rescue her from a burning zeppelin, you will be immediately engaged with Bristol’s rich characterizations and vivid settings.

Bailey Bristol is the pen name of Mary Schwaner, an accomplished coloratura soprano, graphic artist, and IT geek. Long known as an audience builder for the arts, Schwaner wrote the score and libretto for “The Koala Bear Opera”- an opera for 2nd graders, and directed many summer seasons of “Summer Stage Magic” music theatre workshops for kids. Her ability to set a vivid scene on stage is reflected in her very visual novels.

IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.

BB. Since the recent publication of LOVE WILL FOLLOW I have enjoyed all the schizophrenic hopes and fears of first-time authors. While I am currently channelling all that energy into the half dozen other stories that are just about ready to launch, I think LOVE WILL FOLLOW will always have a special place in my heart because it was my first. Kittie is one of the resilient women who began with nothing, experienced little other than brutality at the hands of those who were supposed to be "family", and still managed to recognize and open herself to love when it finally found her.

Kittie, the book’s central character, left the 1880’s Orphan Train in Kansas as a terrified 10-year-old, saying goodbye to her brother and walking away with the German family who showed her everything family should not be. At 18, Kittie fled the abuse, taking with her another battered child. Unbeknownst to her, Kittie’s brother Penn has been killed at Wounded Knee, leaving his best friend, Jake Kannady, to take his half-breed baby and find his sister – Kittie. I’ve employed poignant, mystical dream scenes to show that the bond between brother and sister was never severed, despite their years of separation and his ultimate death.

The depraved “step-brother” who is determined to have her as his woman, follows Jake to Mount Haven and very nearly costs Kittie her life, just when she is beginning to know for the first time what the shelter of loving arms and a loving family can mean.

The joy of a warm and sheltering family experience is becoming more and more rare in our culture. My stories seem to always encompass family found in one way or another. Family can be biological, accidental, or purposefully gathered. And its presence or absence has a dramatic effect on our lives.

So that's what I wish for all my readers...the joy that comes from the shelter of each other. The joy that Kittie found in LOVE WILL FOLLOW.

Read more about my love of historicals and why I write about women of consequence on my blog site at

IAN. How long did it take to write Love Will Follow?

BB. I spent about 3 months, devoting about 16 hours a day to the research and writing.

IAN. What inspired you to write the book?

BB. I’ve always been moved and motivated by historic women of consequence. Many of them had the advantage of family fortunes or the backing of charitable organizations. But the woman who used her own resources - physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual - is the woman who truly inspires me. Nobody said, “Here, let me help you.” In a male-dominated world, she had to use her own devices to rise above the hardships and dangers that life thrust before her. That’s who Kittie was, and that’s why I chose to write her story.

IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?

BB. While it’s true that I probably write “best” in the morning, I find that I write at all times of the day…and night.

IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

BB. I have a very loose idea that I sketch in a couple of paragraphs. Once that loose description engenders a very strong beginning, middle and end in my mind, I’m ready to write.

IAN. How is Love Will Follow different from others in the historical romance genre?

BB. The American setting is less common in historical suspense. I write in the 1890’s, that wonderful time when women threw off their corsets and began riding bicycles, which gave rise to the phrase “free wheeling”; when women went abroad unchaperoned to study. It was an amazing time for women, and a rather unique time period for historical romantic suspense.

IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

BB. Yes, both the paperback and ebook are available on all online venues.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Love Will Follow?

BB. I always endeavor to give my readers a lush look at what life in the 1890’s looked like, what it felt like, smelled like, and so on. I do a lot of research to be accurate in the kinds of obstacles that might have been thrown before the characters just by virtue of the time and place. I would hope readers would have felt immersed in the history while reading my book. And as I am genuinely fond of my characters, I would hope my readers become fond of them as well.

IAN. Where can we go to buy your book?

BB. LOVE WILL FOLLOW is available on Amazon,, and the many outlets served by

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

BB. My next book, coming out in August, is THE SAMARITAN FILES. Set in 1890’s New York, it’s a darker suspense with villains from the opium trade threatening the life of our heroine’s father. The hero, an investigative reporter, brings her father into the public light, exposing him as the good Samaritan who foiled a series of murders twenty years earlier. Now the murderers must kill her father before he breaks his silence of twenty years and exposes them. Another woman of consequence, the heroine of the story is a violinist who manages her own women’s orchestra. She, too, is very nearly killed before our hero manages to entrap the bad guys.

IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?


LOVE WILL FOLLOW by Bailey Bristol

300 pages

Historical Romantic Suspense

Prairie Muse Publishing


Fly to the mountain

Fly to the sun

Fly to the apple grove

One by one

It was only an apple. And it was only an arm’s length away. Take it, and she might lose her job. Leave it, and her little Hannah Marie might die.

Kittie could hardly feel her hands as she labored over a massive pile of freshly-washed bed linens. A cloud of steam hovered above the heavy lumps of laundry, still hot from the boiling tubs. They’d be starting to freeze by the time she got half way through the pile.

At least until then she could plunge her stiffening fingers into the heart of the pile for a moment’s warmth. Not too long, though, or the screaming nerves would render her hands immobile.

Her lips trembled and her heart hammered in her chest as she fed the next heavy, wet sheet through the wringer. The apple seemed to swell larger each time she glanced at it from the corner of her eye. Larger, redder, shinier. And closer.

All she had to do was reach out.


Kittie lurched back from the wringer and knocked over the bench beside her. Flossie’s lunch pail flew off and the woman’s sandwich tumbled, still wrapped in waxed paper, onto the floor. The apple rolled, hit the wall, spun sideways, and came to a stop somewhere behind the coal bin.

Flossie Timberlake thumped her on the shoulder. Hard.

“Y’hear me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kittie whispered, staring at the trail the apple had made through the coal dust around the bin.

“You watch what yer’ doin’, girl. You ‘bout lost a hand.”

The owner of Timberlake Laundry lumbered past the upset bench and grunted as she worked to bend enough beyond her huge belly to pick up the sandwich. She waggled her fingers toward it and only succeeded in flipping it further out of reach. Disgusted, the double-chinned one-time doxy heaved herself upright and kicked the sandwich into the corner.

“If’n you finish afore I git back, start on them collars. I’ll take m’ lunch at Maloney’s fer a change.”

Kittie nodded and leaned into the crank. Sheets were the worst. The heavy wet fabric made the crank bog down so she had to push twice has hard. Distracted by the apple, she’d nearly fed her own hand through the very wringer she herself was cranking.

The tail end of the sheet slipped through the rolling jaws that squeezed every last drop of moisture into the tub below. Kittie dropped the crank, snapped the sheet three times, and ran it through the hot mangle that stood nearby. At least this part, ironing the sheets, gave her shoulders a break.

She worked the treadle with her foot and kept the sheet folded neatly in half and as flat as possible while she maneuvered it through the heated rolls of the mangle. It taunted her with searing puffs of steam so hot that she had to stretch and dodge to keep her face from getting burned. All that twisting and leaning put wrenching pressure on her right knee as she strained to keep a toe on the treadle.

If Flossie would only let her sit at the hulking machine, her face would be well away from the burning vapor. But Flossie said that sit-down jobs just made girls lazy, so Kittie was left to crouch and lean.

The lavender oil Flossie worked into the mangle’s rollers each night left a delicate scent in the crisp, warm sheets. Her devious employer believed it disguised the fact that she kept the rinsing barrel full by dumping the contents of the wringer bucket into it throughout the day.

Kittie added the last of this customer’s order to the pile that sat on the wrapping table. In just seconds she had the brown paper snug around the stack of fresh laundry and tied off with string. She marked the customer’s name with a pencil and carried it to the pickup bins.

Without breaking her resolute, shuffling stride, she snatched the apple from behind the coal bucket and the paper-wrapped sandwich from the floor and headed back to the pile of sodden linen.

“Oh, you there!”

The voice stopped Kittie dead in her tracks. She’d been caught red-handed with the sandwich and apple. Her heart thudded in her chest. Hannah Marie was going to eat tonight if she had to kill to keep the sandwich. There would be enough meat and cheese between those two slices of bread to feed her for three days.

“Miss? I should like to —”

The call was broken by a spasm of coughing. Kittie turned and looked toward the front of the laundry. It seemed impossible that the horrid hacking sounds could be coming from so slight a woman.

Kittie pocketed the sandwich and apple, forgot her guilt and pointed her stiff toes toward the makeshift front counter. Her feet wouldn’t warm up until she planted them next to the corncob burner tonight. During the day she simply scuffed along to protect them from getting banged up inside her cracked and hole-ridden shoes. Sometimes they were so cold she thought her toes might just shatter like glass if she bumped them wrong.

Flossie worked inside the main building that stayed toasty and warm from the small coal burners that heated the big wash tubs. Even on days like this the woman broke a sweat in there. Kittie’s assignments kept her in the lean-to built on at the back. It was a dilapidated excuse for an enclosure that let the frigid wind keep a constant draft through the unheated shed.

Kittie forced herself to focus on the woman who leaned on the counter. “Are you all right?” It wasn’t her place to deal with customers, but it was impossible to ignore the lady in distress. And it would keep her inside the warm sanctuary for a few precious minutes.


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