"She is the keeper of my sanity and secrets." Interview with author Wilhelmina Stolen

I had the pleasure of chatting a bit with Wilhelmina Stolen, author of Sullivan's Way this past week and now I get to share a little bit of that with you. She was kind enough to let me interview her especially for you guys :) Thanks so much for being here, Wilhelmina. I'm going to jump right into the questions. For the readers, can you describe yourself in one sentence?

WS: I am a strong, independent woman that works hard to get what she wants.

What brought about the idea for Sullivan’s Way?

WS: The idea for Sullivan’s Way had been in my mind for years, but I didn’t really know where the story was going until I read an old journal of a distant relative. After that, things started clicking and one idea led to another and so on. I set out on a road trip to Richmond, Virginia and visited the Tredegar Ironworks, Belle Isle and Hollywood Cemetery. It really allowed me to connect with the characters I wanted.

I love when things have some kind of connection to personal history, or are at least inspired by it. In the same vein, what inspired you or bought about your decision to be a writer?

WS: Creativity has always been an escape for me. My parents divorced when I was seven and creating a safe, happy place became the norm for me. As a teenager, I created characters, places and plots I could relate to and gave them happy endings. Writing is my therapy. Through my characters and their circumstances, I can express my own hurts, frustrations and fears.

I think that can be true for a lot of authors. Is there any particular author(s) that you find inspiring?

WS: I love anything by Elizabeth Lowell. I’m also partial to Nicholas Sparks, Tracie Peterson, and Reid Lance Rosenthal.

What part of your main character do you connect with most?

WS: Marnie’s sense of duty and loyalty to her family. There is a passage in the book that reflects this perfectly, “Marnie was tired of being the single thread that held everyone together. Her hand clutched her midriff as anger replaced her fear, a gut-wrenching knot formed in her stomach.  Her father's actions were unforgivable!” I remember feeling this emotional conflict when I was younger. I felt it was my job to keep everyone safe, happy and together. An impossible task to accomplish.

Love the imagery in that quote! What has been the most challenging or most surprising part about being published?

WS: The most challenging part of being published is juggling everything that goes with it. I love the writing, research and promotion, but finding the time to do everything is challenging. The most surprising part about being published is the level of acceptance and support I’ve received from other authors and my friends and family.

Just for fun: Are you the kind of person that likes to break rules, follow them, or bend them a little?

WS: Rule breaker!

Haha! Me too! What is your writing fuel? Be it food, music, or favorite drink.

WS: Coffee and music! Forget the food.   

Mmm coffee. Well, with one book down, do you have anything else in the works right now?

WS: Yes, I’m currently working on Love Finds Its Way, book two in the Way of Hearts Saga. In Sullivan’s Way, Lucas uncovers clues to his past and the mark on his side. However, Daniel Sullivan is a master at hiding secrets, and Lucas is left with more questions than answers.

This book takes Lucas to Texas in search of his past, and introduces the Coldiron family into the saga. Readers will also find that Callie Sullivan has matured into a beautiful, young woman with aspirations and capabilities far beyond the average woman of 1870. She is instrumental in the day to day operations of the Sullivan Mining Company, the lifeblood of the newly established town of Honesty, Virginia.

And last, because I'm just so curious about this: Wilhelmina Stolen is a pen name. How did you come up with it?

WS: The origin of my pen name is complicated, so I won’t go into details.  I will say this. Wilhelmina Stolen wasn't some random name chosen from a hat. She is the keeper of my sanity and secrets. She is the person I always wanted to be. Someone easy to love, and hard to let go of. Oh Lord! That sounds like something from one of my books, but it’s true!

You can find Wilhelmina's book, Sullivan's Way in both print and digital formats. **this book is for 18+ readers due to some sexual content** Digital: $2.99 Amazon iTunes (Coming Soon) Barnes and Noble  Smashwords All Romance Buy In Print $11.95 

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn't last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

More about Wilhelmina Stolen:

Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in a small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.

As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.

After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families.

Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at www.wilhelminastolen.com to learn more about the saga.