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Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes—one bright blue, the other dark brown—Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two—Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.
Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?
Can you tell us about your newest release? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone?
More Than Meets the Eye is the first book in a new series. It’s a tale filled with secrets, flawed characters fighting for a fresh start, a hero bent on revenge, and an unconventional heroine whose cheerful demeanor holds the power to soften even the hardest of hearts. Oh, and a feral hog named Hezekiah who thinks he’s part of the family.
The premise behind my new Patchwork Family series is a group of orphans who bond to form their own family when their orphan train derails. These youngsters were overlooked, discarded, and unwanted by the families they met along their journey. Zach, because he is a belligerent loner with a giant chip on his shoulder. Seth, because he is sickly, weakened by asthma. And sweet, little Evangeline because she was born with mismatched eyes.
Is anything or anyone in this book based on real-life experiences?
None of my characters or situations are based on any real-life experiences. However, the themes and spiritual struggles of my characters definitely tie back to my own issues. I might not be an orphan with heterochromia, but I know the pain of rejection and the desire to shun conflict and hide myself away. I might not be an ex-gambler bent on avenging his father’s death, but I know what it is like to lose my father at an early age and how that grief can change the trajectory of my life.
Who was your favorite character in this story, and why?
That’s such a hard question. I’m actually going to pick Zacharias Hamilton, Evangeline’s oldest brother. He’s the thirteen-year-old loner who found himself responsible for two other orphan children and found a way to keep them all alive and create a family where none previously existed. He’s tough and gruff and never actually says “I love you” out loud, but his actions prove it out over and over.
Of course, he might be my favorite because I’m currently in the middle of writing his story. LOL. I always fall a little bit in love with my heroes as I write them.
Compared to your other books, was this one easy to complete or challenging? Any idea why?
Evangeline and Logan’s story wasn’t necessarily harder to write, but because both the hero and heroine had such sad backstories, I found it more difficult to work my trademark humor into the narrative. Thankfully, I had a crazy, trouble-making hog to add into the mix along with brotherly teasing and a dreamy heroine who always tried to see the best in any situation. Nevertheless, I still had to remind myself regularly to look for places to add lightness and levity. Hopefully that comes through without taking away from any of the suspense and drama of the plot.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing from the point of view of the opposite sex?
I’m an explainer. Where my husband would discipline our children with a stern no and leave it at that, I would pull them aside and take five minutes to explain why I felt the need to say no. Guys, especially the heroes in my books, are no-nonsense, skip-to-the-chase kind of people. They don’t feel the need to explain things to death or even to ponder too long on a matter. They make up their mind, speak their piece, and move on. So when I write from the male point of view, the biggest pitfall I have to watch out for is over-explaining. I trim and re-trim my male dialog and even try to carve back their narrative so it feels more masculine and less like me.
What did you (or your editors) edit out of this book?
There wasn’t much edited out, but there was something that I edited into the book. I was already several months into the writing of More Than Meets the Eye went a speaking opportunity took me to Lubbock, TX. After conducting a library workshops that morning, I did a late afternoon book signing at the local Barnes & Noble. A few minutes before our official start time, and man and his family came through the store, saw my name and stopped. His wife loved my books and couldn’t believe that they had just happened to come into the store at the exact time I was there. God moves in mysterious ways. We chatted and I signed a book and then carried on with the rest of the signing. It was a lovely encounter, but I didn’t think anything special would come from it. Until I received an email from the husband a few days later.
Knowing how much his wife loved my books and seeking some special way to honor her, he asked if there might be any way for me to name a future character after his wife. His story along with his plea touched my heart, and I knew at once that I needed to find a way to make this happen. My main character was already named and I was too deep into the story to change Evangeline, but I had a secondary character, a love interest for the younger Hamilton brother who could be renamed without too much trouble. So after some brainstorming with Jeff (the husband) about his wife’s eye color and hair color, I set about transforming Anne Stokes into Christie Gilliam. Kristie actually spells her name with a K, but since that wasn’t historically accurate, I changed the starting letters. In another romantic twist, I had Seth Hamilton revert to using his original surname (instead of the adopted name the orphans all took on when they created their own family) at the end of the book – that surname being Jefferson. In honor of the husband who approached me for this sweet tribute to his wife.
Jeff had to wait nearly a year and a half for this surprise to come to fruition, but it finally has. And if you read the dedication, you’ll see he and his wife mentioned along with the providence of the God who brought this all about.
Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.