"For Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order brides is a golden business opportunity-- and a desperately needed chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build an independent, new life away from her own loss and grief."
The book is ultimately the story of Clara and two other women, all willing to take risks and start anew in the year 1866. McNees has a wonderful way with words, and I found myself taking notes on my favorite words and phrases. I enjoyed the little details, the characters, and the romance- which was not overdone and added to "sell" the story. The tension surprised me, and there were nights I could not put it down! The letters that go back and forth between the potential husbands and the New York women are so funny-- definitely a highlight for me.
Yes, I decided I needed to find out a little more about this author. Welcome to A Story Club, Kelly!the journey west is a struggle and the new life that waits for them in Nebraska is far from what they expected. These travelers soon learn that they must leave their pasts behind in order to lay claim to the women they want to become.
or Clara Bixby, brokering mail-order marriages is a golden opportunity—a chance to start again. If she can help New York women find husbands in a far-off Nebraska town, she can build a new life away from her own loss and grief. Her ambitions are shared by a quiet Bavarian immigrant named Elsa, who hopes to escape servitude and make the most of her remaining years. And by Rowena, a once-wealthy widow who jumps at the chance to marry a humble stranger and repay a heartbreaking debt.
But the journey west is a struggle and the new life that waits for them in Nebraska is far from what they expected. These travelers soon learn that they must leave their pasts behind in order to lay claim to the women they want to become.What has surprised you most about having a published novel?
|Kelly O'Connor McNees (photo by Kate Emerson)|
Was there anything you learned from your first novel that helped you when writing the next?
I learned that outlining really helps me piece a first draft together. Somehow I had gotten the idea (maybe from creative writing classes) that outlining was cheating somehow. That if you were a real writer, the novel would just spill forth fully formed. Maybe that's how it works for some writers, but I found that a rough outline (which I was free to deviate from at any point) helped me get past that blank-page terror each morning: I knew what was coming next.
Where and when do you write?
My most productive time of day is first thing in the morning, and the earlier I can get started, the better. I wrote my first novel between 5:30 and 8:30 am, before I went to work. I was a little more relaxed about the schedule for my second, sometimes writing in the afternoons when I had time. Then I had a baby. Needless to say, I now write whenever the hell I can! I almost always work in my little alcove office off our bedroom. I have a secondhand table that came from a school--it still has petrified gum stuck to the bottom.
What are your dreams for the future?
Most of my dreams involve things I look forward to doing with my daughter, who is just ten months old. I can't wait to swim in Lake Michigan together. When I was pregnant I bought this beautiful illustrated edition of The Secret Garden. I can't wait to read that with her. When she's big enough to enjoy them, I look forward to going to the museums and out for her first grown-up lunch, to riding the train, going to the movies. Every fun "first" is ahead of her.
What have been the best books you've read lately?
|Kelly's debut book- on my TBR list!|
Three random facts about you?
I am from a huge family that includes about seventy first cousins, and endless stories.
If I could live anywhere, it would be northern Michigan.
I moved eight times in nine years before settling in Chicago, and I never want to move again!
What is your advice for aspiring authors?Read, read, read, read.
Thank you, Kelly! Thank you to everyone for stopping by A Story Club today. Questions for readers: Do you have a favorite period in history? Or what do you like about mail-order bride stories? The author is generously giving away a signed copy of In Need of a Good Wife. It could be you! (Winner drawn randomly on 1/19. US only).
The winner is Hallie! Thank you to everyone who took time to read this interview, and to those who commented.
Go visit Kelly and become a fan!