We’re still celebrating the release of War of Loyalties, and along with a giveaway, we have a special feature with the author herself (including some exclusive backstory you know you want to hear!)
– How did you get into writing?
While I was always excited by the short story assignments in school, I was always disappointed with what I wrote. But I found when I could write on my own, unhindered, then the creative writing side of things turned out much better. I have always been geared towards loving stories, and I think I transitioned between imagining what happened to another author’s characters after the book, to creating fanfiction, to creating characters of my own.
– I can relate! Tell me! Why WWI? What drew you to the era?
To be honest, I’ve never told anyone the whole story. Whenever this question comes up, I scramble around for a polite something that will answer it without telling what really happened. So here’s part of the secret: I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes for so many years, and Doyle’s original stories end around WW1. WoL started off as Sherlock Holmes fanfiction that later turned into an original novel. Taking out the Sherlock Holmes elements happened by the second draft, and incorporating the actual WW1 history came in much later drafts.
The rest of the secret must remain under wraps. ☺
– Can you tell us a little about how the characters came to be?
This is so tough to remember, but I do remember some!
Ben came about as inspiration from a childhood love in a book. It wasn’t a crush—more of a deep, heartfelt affection that led me to create a character of my own.
Peters the butler was inspired by Dorothy Sayer’s Bunter–I adored Bunter’s capable comradeship on his master’s escapades and wanted a British butler of my own.
Charlotte’s evolution was especially interesting—in the first germ of the WoL idea, Charlotte was a proud daughter of a rich man, who would later find some humility and marry the main character. That whole rendition of WoL got completely axed. Ben started off in the first real draft of WoL unmarried, and by the middle of the book, I brought his wife in, whom he had left behind in America. (I was still figuring out where this book was going.) In the final draft, Charlotte is a nurse, and she and Ben have been married for a year, but they have no children yet. She’s kind and steady with a fierce instinct to protect the man she loves.
Jaeryn, too, underwent a lot of change. In the original draft, he and Ben were graduates of the same medical university, and Jaeryn was actually at Ben’s wedding, though they had just as tenuous a relationship as they do in this draft of War of Loyalties. However, Jaeryn’s morphed a lot—I’ll let readers find out more about him for themselves!
– Are there any unlikely things inspired or influenced the story?
Inspiration comes in so many odd ways. I remember putting a kiss into the story around the time I had heard a talk about saving a first kiss—which was a bit odd. ☺ I was inspired by so many things—photos on Pinterest, comments from friends, and books I had read from childhood. But unfortunately, nothing out of the ordinary.
– Folkestone is a real town that really had a hospital in WWI. Are there any fascinating historical tidbits that you worked into the story somehow that you’re dying to share?
Ben treats a patient with shrapnel scars and gas poisoning towards the beginning of the book. The patient was a Canadian soldier injured in a real gas attack. Originally I used mustard gas, but later I realized that mustard gas was not used until July 1917, too late for my story’s timeframe. So I switched to chlorine gas.
In chapter three, Ben gets a message through a secret drop box that Jaeryn uses to communicate with other agents. This drop box is in Radnor Park, a real location in Folkestone nearby the Victoria Hospital. I used a vintage postcard with a picture of the stone wall and little waterfall that Jaeryn and Ben found the message hidden near.
Also, as a historical fiction author, you always have to make the decision on when to fudge the facts a little bit and when to remain true to them. I decided at one point to fudge the facts on when Irish rebels were pardoned by the British government for the sake of extra drama in the story. However, in the latest draft, I realized that I could remain true to history and achieve a more logical story effect, so I fixed it to match the real historical timeline.
– I can tell as I’ve been reading how many hours you must have spent pouring into research! Lastly, What is something you want readers to take away from War of Loyalties?
I wanted them to be able to take away the return of a classic style of storytelling—something long and rich that you can curl up with on winter evenings. Something with a variety of characters to love that just feels real, whose lives you can imagine going on after the story. Something like Dickens. ☺ Characters have a way of turning into close friends—so if someone could read War of Loyalties and walk away with happy memories.
Well, I have definitely gotten that from War of Loyalties! I already know it’s one I will be returning to over and over again. Be sure to check out the giveaway below!
Add the book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36436525-war-of-loyalties
First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8×10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug
Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)
Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.
About the Author
Schuyler McConkey is a teacher, ministry leader, author and book blogger residing in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a passionate advocate for big books, reading with Christian discernment, good stories, and authentic friendship in the body of Christ. Her hidden talents include memorizing the lyrics to Celtic folk songs, watching Masterpiece Theatre dramas, and making cakes to celebrate fictional birthdays. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog, My Lady Bibliophile (www.ladybibliophile.blogspot.com).