Modern Jo March is proud to welcome back Linda Ellen for a chat about her upcoming release, A Bride for Finn, which is the 5th book in the new Proxy Brides series. The book releases this week, on November 15th, so be sure to pre-order/order it over on Amazon.
MJM: The Proxy Brides is a multi author series. How many authors are involved in this series?
Linda: There are ten.
MJM: A Bride for Finn will be your second Western Historical Fiction novel. You have 7 Historical Fiction novels published. Finn will be your 8th. You currently have two solo series under your belt, but The Proxy Brides will be your first foray into a multi author series. How did you get involved in this series? Did you find it daunting at first?
Linda: Hmm, good questions. How I got involved was my good friend and author, Barb Goss, recommended me to the author who had the original idea for a proxy brides series and wanted to get a group of authors together. As for was it daunting at first – YES! LOL. For me, I was actually going through a down period. I’d released my most recent book, Sweet Love at Honey Landing, but found myself without the necessary funds to adequately advertise it, so it didn’t do as well as I hoped. The disappointment of that boomeranged me into not having written a thing for months. When we had the initial author meeting for the proxy bride series, I felt rather intimidated and even wondered whether I could get the project done on time. We met in June (online video chat) and I committed to writing and completing everything for my book by November. It seemed impossible, lol. I wondered if I could come up with a realistic reason that someone would agree to become a proxy bride to a man they’ve never even met in person, and make the story work. BUT—I had a planning talk with my number one helper and fan, my hubby Steve, and he came up with some great ideas that really sparked my imagination. He was on board with it and even excited about it from the get go. In the space of about 90 minutes, we had the plot and even had decided on the character’s names.
MJM: Wow that does seem like a large undertaking!
The proxy bride theme of this new series is super interesting. I’d actually never heard of marrying by proxy until this book.
Linda: Neither had I!
MJM: Tell me, how did that whole theme come about? Who came up with it?
Linda: The original idea was the brainchild of Christine Sterling, who is a wonderful author and a multi-talented woman. She said she wanted to capitalize on the popularity of mail-order-brides, but with a new twist, something that readers hadn’t seen before. The proxy bride angle came to her and she reached out to several authors she knew to see if they had any interest and it took off from there. We were under strict secrecy at first not to let the cat out of the bag, lol.
One thing that attracted me to the project at first was the fact that the books in the series don’t have to piggyback off one another. The basic rules were that the stories had to, of course, involve a proxy marriage—that’s the glue that makes it a series. The year had to be 1865-1875, post-civil war through reconstruction. Each bride could be from where ever we wanted, but the man had to be west of the Mississippi. In each story, the bride would be in a situation of some sort and the only way to get out of the situation is to get married. Unfortunately, the intended groom is somewhere else, so the bride gets married to him via proxy, with someone else standing in for him. The license is signed, and the bride heads off to meet her legal husband. The real story then begins as two people who have never met, but yet are legally husband and wife, do indeed fall in love and have their HEA. Though these romances are not classified as Christian Romances (meaning under the Amazon category), we could put Christian elements within the romance. We agreed for the stories to be clean with no graphic sex, violence or profanity.
MJM: Wow, that’s interesting. I always like to learn about how books come to life.
What was the process of developing this series like? Did you all have a forum where you worked together?
Linda: After that first meeting, in June, Christine set up a private facebook group and it includes at least a dozen files where we kept track of everything from the names we are using, places, years, etc., plus posted and chatted each day with one another, encouraged one another, and kept up with each book as it developed. All of us were smitten with the project from day one. Christine tapped Virginia McKevitt to create the covers (and I think she did an AWESOME job!) and that was completed quickly, within the first few weeks. Virginia picked out several dozen images of models in period clothing that we could choose from for our heroine. By the way, there will be a “Round Two” of stories, with each author writing a sequel for their own book, and we already have the covers completed to those, too! Mine, by the way, will be “A Bride for Sam”.
MJM: That’s great! I loved Sam in A Bride For Finn, so I’m glad that he’ll be getting his own story. I also think the covers are pretty, I love them and they all match well each other.
What was the inspiration for Finn’s story?
Linda: Well, Christine provided us with a list of possible scenarios to work from. I read through them and one really spoke to me and seemed plausible--A bride is seeking a new opportunity and the groom wants to secure her in marriage before sending for her (maybe he got burned), so that got my wheels spinning. I read that to my husband and he immediately had ideas. I knew I wanted my girl to be in Louisville (where I base all of my stories, at least in part) and I then sifted through the different states out west and picked Nebraska. One by one, the details seemed to just slide in place. For the names of my characters – he is Finn (short for Phineas) Maynard and she is Charise Willoughby. Finn is the name of my newest grandbaby and Charise is the daughter of my boss and a dear friend.
MJM: I was honored to be in on the ground floor of this book as your beta reader and enjoyed seeing it take form. I was wondering if you could tell us anything about Sam’s story? ;)
Linda: Thanks so much Liz! You are a fantastic beta and I'm so glad I have you on my team!! As for Sam's story, let's say that as he sees his brother and his new proxy bride fall in love and they are so happy together, it really makes him long for his own bride. He decides to go the route of Finn and put in a request for a mail order bride, but as the time passes, he can't find anyone he feels a connection with. He keeps thinking about a girl he met once, but she is engaged to be married and he figures she's off limits.
Meanwhile, the girl he's thinking about gets jilted by her fiance, and then her life becomes in danger, so she reaches out for help. At that point, it will be Sam to the rescue! The only way he can rescue her quickly is, you guessed it, marry her by proxy. Hehe. :)
I want to thank Linda for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me. A Bride for Finn is one you won't want to miss. Too often Historical Romance books fall into the formulaic plotlines revolving around the main characters either having a misunderstanding and walking away from the relationship, only to come together in the end or enduring one calamity after another to the point of being laughable. I appreciate that Linda doesn’t fall into that pitfall and instead, creates characters that stick together through the rough patches. A Bride For Finn is fresh, lovable, and sure to be a hit. Preorder it HERE!
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....