Monday, July 13, 2020

#CharacterInterview - "Letters and Lies" by Colleen L. Donnelly

An Interview with a Character Who is a Real Character

From the author, Colleen L. Donnelly...

I’ve never done a character interview, so I thought ‘why not?’ regarding my latest heroine, Louise Archer. My only concern was pinning her down since in “Letters and Lies” she spent most of her time skirting the truth. That could be a problem in an interview, so I decided if she can practice deception, so can I. If she can disguise herself as the recently widowed Mrs. Penelope Strong to hide the fact she is actually the recently jilted Miss Louise Archer heading west to find her ex-fiancé and marry him anyway, then surely I can pretend to be…an attorney. Someone with the right to ask questions that demand honest answers. And maybe in the course of this interview I can prove that two wrongs can indeed make a right, if Miss Archer cooperates.

Attorney Me: Louise Archer, you are aware certain questions have arisen as to your integrity as a heroine. First and foremost, regarding your intentions. Did you indeed board a train in St. Louis, MO in the early summer of 1876 under the pretense of going to Dodge City, Kansas to marry one Jim Baylis, when in fact he had wired you two days before and broken your engagement?

Louise: No.

Me: Are you sure? Weren’t you hiding his wire in your glove when you hugged your mother and friends goodbye, letting them see you off with hearty congratulations?

Louise: No.

Me: I see. Well, then, what about a certain Marshal Everett McCloud who offered to help you onto the train? Didn’t you tell him you were a widow heading to Larned, Kansas rather than admitting you were a spinster heading to Dodge City?

Louise: I don’t recall.

Me: I can ask the marshal, you know.

Louise: Very well. I might have confused the names of two Kansas towns.

Me: I suppose that’s possible. But it seems you did get off at Larned when the marshal offered to help with your trunk there. And immediately after disembarking you forced yourself on a Lizzy Sanders and her banker, announcing you were in Larned to assist with her family’s business…a restaurant called Eat Here. Is that right?

Louise: No.

Me: According to her banker, you told Marshal McCloud, who followed you off the train, that your late husband had invested in this floundering café while referring to yourself as Mrs. Penelope Strong. Does that sound familiar?

Louise: No.

Me: Well according to other sources in the town, you claimed your late husband left you with a fair amount of money to invest in several towns and businesses, Eat Here in Larned being the first. Yet you never produced any money. And you stayed in Larned long enough to fairly turn the whole town upside down with your supposed business knowledge. Hindsight says your heart’s desire was to continue to Dodge City to search for your ex fiancé but your avalanche of lies trapped you in Larned. Would that be the case?

Louise: No.

Me: According to a Mr. Weston, Larned’s ticket master at the train station, you and he had several heated arguments over a replacement for your original ticket to Dodge City. He claims you tried multiple times to wrangle a free ticket from him, and even failed to acknowledge any of the generosity he offered. If what Mr. Weston says is true… Miss Archer? Are you all right? Your face seems flushed. Has something riled you?

Louise: No.

Me: Well since you declare you are fine, maybe you wouldn’t mind answering a more delicate question. A certain Rudy Walters disappeared while you were in Larned. It was no secret the two of you weren’t friends. Larned citizens testify he came to Eat Here looking for you. Shots were fired after which Mr. Walters was never seen again. There is suspicion you might know…”

Louise: I don’t.

Me: Rumor has it that you began carrying a pistol in your boot. Did you become a crack shot during your stay in Larned?

Louise: Of course not.

Me: I see. Well, Miss Archer, let me ask—don’t you think it possible a young woman near spinster age who finds herself suddenly jilted might be tempted to go find the man who failed to keep his promise? And wouldn’t it make sense for her to travel as a widow to deter prying, or interference from men like Marshal Everett McCloud who might worry over a woman on her own? And if that didn’t throw him off track, she could toss out another destination nowhere near the fiancé she was off to find. And if that forced her off the train in the wrong town, she could invent a story why she was there. And be forced to live that story while one lie gave birth to another. Doesn’t that sound plausible?

Louise: No.

Me: Not true then, any of it.

Louise: No.

Me: So, Miss Louise Archer/Mrs. Penelope Strong, it is your claim that everything said about you is wrong. Nothing more than a fantastic story.

Louise: Yes. You’re right. That’s exactly what I would say. A fantastic story.


Louise Archer boards a westbound train in St. Louis to find the Kansas homesteader who wooed and proposed to her by correspondence, then jilted her by telegram – Don't come, I can't marry you. Giving a false name to hide her humiliation, her lie backfires when a marshal interferes and offers her his seat.

Marshal Everett McCloud intends to verify the woman coming to marry his homesteading friend is suitable. At the St. Louis train station, his plan detours when he offers his seat to a captivating woman whose name thankfully isn't Louise Archer.

Everett's plans thwart hers, until he begins to resemble the man she came west to find, and she the woman meant to marry his friend.


“He wrote and changed your plans? Why didn’t you tell me? You know I love hearing his letters.”

Everyone loved hearing his letters. Or at least they’d pretended to. I glanced at my friends, especially the one who’d first suggested I correspond with her husband’s homesteading friend in Kansas who was ready to look for a wife. She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief while she flicked the fingers of her other hand in a weak wave. I dredged my soul in search of a smile. The man she’d introduced me to truly had penned everything I’d ever wanted in a husband, months of letters which convinced Mama Jim was my open door. Letters I’d foolishly carted from family to friend to blather every word like a desperate spinster. Drat.

“He didn’t send his change of plans in a letter, Mama. He sent them in a telegram.” Don’t come, I can’t marry you. The only words I never shared.

“Well I imagine your Jim has a surprise for you and didn’t have time to send a letter before you left for Crooked Creek. How thoughtful to wire you instead.”

Thoughtful…I felt poisoned and Mama would too if she ever found out Jim had shut my open door. Which she wouldn’t, since as soon as I got out there and found him, I’d wedge it back open again.

Buy Links

For a limited time, “Letters and Lies” is 99 cents on the following sites:
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Author Bio

Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen studied and worked in science, using that career to travel and explore other parts of the country. An avid fan of literature, both reading and writing, she loves tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.

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  1. Lol, great interview. I remembered Reagan's "I do not recall". Best of luck with your book. D. V.🦉

  2. Thank you, Amber, for a fun Monday morning sharing of my jilted heroine, Louise Archer! I love your added touches that enhance the post!

    1. Of course. You're welcome and I'm happy to host you. Thank YOU for coming by!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Jennifer! I think there is a little bit of Louise in all of us that want's to save ourselves. Even red-faced.

  4. Enjoyed Louise. The interview is what you promised. Amusing.


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