I am so delighted to welcome Chautona Havig to the blog today as part of the Celebrate Lit Tour for Such a Tease!
Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie, Past Forward, and HearthLand series, Chautona considers herself blessed to live in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and five of her nine children. When not writing, which she admits isn’t often, Chautona enjoys blogging, paper crafts, sewing, smocking, photo editing, and old (read: before her parents’ time) music.
Her new book, Such a Tease, released March 21st.
In book two of the Meddlin’ Madeline series, Madeline Brown has a new endeavor to occupy her time. But is it to keep her out of the way or a reward for her work in Sweet on You? With the help of her young friends, Madeline discovers her old adversary is gaining a following in Rockland! What’s a girl to do?
However, her new position also gives her opportunities to observe, and what she sees sets more than one new investigation in motion. What does her old suitor, Delbert Jackson, know? Why is Mr. Merton giving important papers to that scoundrel, Vernon Smythe, and whatever happened to poor Abigail Cooper?
Add to these intriguing questions Henry Hardwick’s continued attentions, Edith’s newfound devotion to the temperance movement and Madeline’s determination to find her a more reliable suitor, and strange behavior from her Aunt Louisa and things heat up as summer fades from Rockland.
Unfortunately, her dear friend, Russell, busy with an important project at work, finds himself unable to help keep her out of trouble and away from danger. Is Madeline going too far? Will her meddling get her in serious trouble this time, will it destroy her reputation irreparably, or will she rid Rockland of a scoundrel once and for all?
Leon Czolgosz is my new nemesis. He’s dead, but he ruined my book. No, really. The guy totally destroyed the opening pages of Such a Tease.
Now, these days, not a whole lot of people remember the name of Leon Cozolgosz. I didn’t. But I’ll never forget him now (although I may never remember how to spell his name).
Who is he? Only the guy who shot President McKinley. Why am I annoyed with him over a hundred years later? The idiot did this thing on September 6, 1901. You know, four days after this book opened? Yeah. Couldn’t he have done it on say… January 6, 1901? Even January 6, 1902 would have served my purposes.
Look, I’m not as callous as I appear. Truly. But if President McKinley had to die, did his murderer have to do it when it would completely mess up my book?
How did it mess up my book you ask?
I’ll tell you. I left it out—the whole assassination thing. There I was, fixing a wedding date for one of the characters, when a thought occurred to me. She could be married on Flag Day—if Flag Day was a thing then. I didn’t think it was. I really thought Wilson was responsible for that—you know, creating holidays in between his notes to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany or something like that. But I hoped. Somehow—just maybe. I mean we had Labor Day from Cleveland, why not Flag Day from McKinley. But noooooo. He didn’t. What did he do?
He got shot. Four days after my book opened. And there wasn’t a single word about it in the story.
Like I could ever get away with that. This was news! Big news. And nothing about it in the life of a daughter of a politician? I think not.
Not only did this Leon Czolgosz (no, really. It’s spelled correctly) shoot the president on September 6th, but he didn’t do a good job of it! Look, I think I’ve established that I didn’t want President McKinley killed. But if the guy with the unpronounceable last name had to do it, couldn’t he have done a good job of it? Couldn’t he have shot the president in the head? McKinley suffered for eight days before he died. Eight days! They thought he was getting better and then gangrene killed him.
It would have been a mercy had Leon just shot McKinley in the head or the heart. Why the abdomen? Cruel, if you ask me, even for an anarchist.
And it made adding the whole affair to my book even more problematic. No, really! Think about it. I couldn’t have the newspapers announce the death of President McKinley on September 7th and then have a few mentions of the bank being affected or something. No… no… now I had to have a headline event, give false hope, and then add the death on top of it all.
Look, I do an obscene amount of research for my books. No, really. Keen was slang in 1901. Woohoo! Look up “peachy keen”? Yeah. Can’t use it. 1950s. The telephone? Can Madeline expect to use one in a burgeoning city in 1901? Considering there were over 850,000 telephones in use, yes. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that a photographer who works for a local paper might have a telephone in order to receive calls requesting him to come photograph some big event—like the Mayor’s speech on the death of President McKinley, perchance?
Yep. Somehow, I almost missed one of the biggest events in US history. Research saved the book—and ruined my timeline. All at the same time. Gotta love history. Or not.
And Leon Czolgosz? Yeah. Thanks for nothing.
Haha! Welcome to the blog, Chautona! I start all my guests out with a fast four:
Chautona: Oranges. Definitely. Why? Well I don’t actually care for apples much. I’m crazy picky about having the perfect blend of sweet and tart with lots of juice. And let’s face it. That’s just not gonna happen often. Oranges are usually both sweet and tart, they are always juicy, and NEVER mealy. So… yeah. Oranges. Definitely. Besides, I love orange juice and do not like apple juice. Never have.
Carrie: Well when you put it that way… Wait. You don’t like apple juice? Ok. I get that. But what about cider?!? lol.
Chautona: MMmmmmwaaahahaha! I live in the desert. So, what you’re really asking is if I want to be burned by the heat or the cold? While we’re not sub-zero here, we get below freezing for our winter months and sometimes into the 120s in summer. I think I prefer summer only because we don’t usually have as much wind. Our winds blow over semi trucks and box cars. We really are rather extreme here. Okay. That settles it. I prefer summer. (And I feel like I should be sent to a mental institution for saying that). But hey. It’s a dry heat, right?
Carrie: I’d take below freezing over 120 degrees any day, dry heat or no 😉
Chautona: Dogs. Why? Well, because they’re not cats! Okay, let me try this again. I have my son’s cat, bleach (I refuse to dignify a name like that with a capital), wandering through my house yowling right about now. Yeah. She’s in heat. And I haven’t been able to get the poor creature to the vet to take that torture away from all of us yet. And well, dogs are just friendlier, happier, and less aloofly needy than cats.
Carrie: “less aloofly needy” – I love that!! haha!
Chautona: Tea. Why? Because it’s not coffee! I can’t stand coffee. Drinking burned beans just doesn’t appeal to me. However, when I have an asthma attack, like most nasty-tasting medicine, it does the trick. ?
Carrie: I have heard that about coffee being helpful for asthma attacks! (I can’t stand coffee either. Yuck.)
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Chautona: Hmm… Well, for ME I’d WANT it to be sleeping. But I suppose what it would be is meeting new imaginary friends. ?
Carrie: I’m willing to negotiate both for you 😉
Which books are “on your nightstand”?
Chautona: I have a stack here. So… in no particular order:
People of the Book by Kathi Macias
Eleni by Nicholas Gage
The Inheritance by Michael Phillips
Purple Rain on Dogwood Lilies by Brian Voigt
Storming by K. M. Weiland
Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat. She Just Weighs Heavy by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
Never Tomorrow by Judith Rolfs
North of Ithaka by Eleni N. Gage
Being Dead is No Excuse by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays
44 Scotland Street Series
Carrie:”Being Dead is No Excuse” – what a great title lol.
Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Chautona: I write in three main places. Sitting on my bed (where I am now), at a friend’s dining room table while her family sleeps (I write from about 9 p.m. to about 5 a.m.), and at our local Denny’s restaurant. The latter is my favorite, but it can get a mite embarrassing when you crack yourself up with a line you just wrote or you try to hide your laptop screen as you comb through page after page of Google searches trying to find what American young ladies called their underwear. For the record, it’s rather difficult to get proper information. Most is Canadian or British (they’re obviously less shy about sharing that kind of info. So, there I sit, poring over the Sears & Roebuck 1901 catalog in the ladies’ underwear department like Willie Olson from Little House on the Prairie. Mortifying. Oh, and it’s “drawers” if you’d like to know. I suspected, but you can’t just go by memory on these things.
Carrie: LOL! If your Denny’s is like our Denny’s, probably nobody would blink an eye…
Describe your main characters, and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce Such a Tease as a movie!
Chautona: Madeline Brown: A young woman with an eye for details and trapped in a world of new ideals and old conventions. I’d most like to use the woman who is on my cover. She is Madeline. I created the books for those covers instead of the other way around, but otherwise, I think I’d like Amy Adams or Emma Roberts
Russell Barnes: One of the few people who can keep Madeline in check—but for how long? I’d like him played by Nathan Fillion from about 15 or so years ago. Otherwise Liam Hemsworth (from Hunger games)
Albert Brown: As the mayor of Rockland, Albert spends his time trying to run interference between Madeline and her meddlesome aunt and keeping the city from making enormous mistakes. All in a day’s work, no? And Kelsey Grammar would be great for him.
Carrie: Oh be still my heart! Amy Adams, younger Nathan Fillion, and Kelsey Grammar in one book/movie?!? Yes please!
What surprised you about Such A Tease or your characters as you wrote their story?
Chautona: Madeline completely surprised me at the end. When I was plotting out the book, I remember turning off the voice recorder and staring at it in a bit of shock. She makes a decision I did NOT expect (and frankly, it absolutely complicates everything for me for the next book. But I think it was the right one, because it shows just how flawed she is while also showing that even in that, she is willing to grow and learn. I just feel a little sorry for one of the young men in her life.
Carrie: oooo now I’m super-curious!
What do you most want readers to take away from Such a Tease?
Chautona: There are a couple of things. First, Madeline really struggles with making her faith more than a formalized “duty” to a God who saves mankind. She fights with prayer, with not wanting to be a “fanatic” but with also learning that there is more to this Christianity thing than reading a Bible verse and praying a stiff prayer every day. I want to show that it isn’t always natural for people to come to their “Abba” Father and be comfortable at His feet. Madeline crawls up in her earthly papa’s lap when she wants to be comforted, but she’d never dare feel so familiar toward her heavenly “Abba.” I want to show that the transition might be awkward, but it’s genuine and it’s worth it.
The other thing I hope to show is that facts are not always indicative of motives. In this book, we see that one of the little mysteries she uncovered in the first book had more to the story than the mere fact that someone committed a crime. You know, as Christians, we’re called to reprove our brother when he sins—to try to bring him back to fellowship with the Lord. One could say Paul actually calls us to “judge” someone in that way. So, I think when Jesus warns against judging one another, He’s talking about the person’s motive. Because, after all, the Lord told Samuel that while we only see “the outward appearance,” He can see the heart.
Carrie: I think so many Christians have struggled the same way Madeline does. How patient He is with us!
Chautona, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Chautona: I am so excited about this next book. Years ago, I wrote a book, None So Blind. It took a lot of revisions, but it was finally published in 2013. The second book in what will eventually be a trilogy, will release in June. I can’t wait to see more of that first character, Ella, and get to know the newest person to awake with a lot of unexplained cash and no memory of who she is or where she is. Squee!!!!
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate you sharing my work like this. It’s always fun to meet new people. I’ll be around to answer questions if your readers have any. ?
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a Reader’s Teaser Package
A paperback copy of both Sweet on You and Such a Tease
A “Tea-for-One” teapot
A Tin of loose-leaf tea of your choice (six options available from our local tearoom)
A pound of assorted See’s chocolates
A set of six handmade antique-inspired note cards
A $25 Amazon Gift Card
And, for the teaser… the winner will also receive the exclusive short story (usually reserved for pre-orders) The Fate of Abigail Cooper!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
Follow along with the Celebrate Lit Tour for more chances to win!
What about you? Do you have any questions or comments for Chautona? Isn’t she fun?!?