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Friday 8 February 2019

Novel Conversations with a character from Terri Karsten’s novel

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted every Friday

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's go to 1754 and meet 
Callie Beaton 


HELEN: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you. Please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Terri Karsten’s novel A Mistake of Consequence. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
CALLIE:  I am so very pleased to meet you, Madam. ‘Tis a fine day, is it not? I must say I’ve not acquired a taste for that nasty brew, coffee, [shudders] but I could use a refreshing cup of tea, thank you. I’m Callie Beaton, a gentlewoman. Or at least I was when I was home. I’m not sure what you’d call me now. ‘Servant’ is unjust, and ‘fugitive’ is far too harsh. Perhaps just plain Callie Beaton will have to do. Until quite recently, I called Edinburgh home. Now … well suffice it to say I’m no longer in Scotland. In fact, I’ve told how that came to pass through my author’s book.  And yes, I am indeed the lead character in my own story.

HELEN: What genre is the novel and what is it about? 

CALLIE:  Historical fiction, set in 1754. It begins when I was so unceremoniously snatched up and dumped into the hold of that wretched ship, bound for the American Colonies. Perhaps it was foolish of me to turn toward the docks when I left Grandfather’s house.  But who could blame me? I was so angry that I wasn’t thinking straight. In any case, I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined I would be sold into indenture. The novel follows my journey to Philadelphia, my ordeal as a servant, and my many attempts to return home. Believe you me, it has not been easy!

HELEN: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)

CALLIE:  I admit I’ve make mistakes…[sips her tea and frowns] …frankly, more than a few. I know I’ve been called headstrong, and things do not always turn out as I intend. However, I always try to do the right thing. I think it fair to put myself on the side of ‘good’.

HELEN:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!

CALLIE:  To be honest, it has oft been difficult for me to tell exactly who really is my enemy and who is a friend. After all, a gentleman or a rogue might hide behind a charming smile.  [takes out a small fan from her pocket, opens it, and thoughtfully fans herself] Even Peg, who I count as one of my best friends, could have saved me a great deal of trouble had she only spoken up in my defence back on the docks in Edinburgh. But I can’t hold that against her. Peg’s judgement has never been perfectly sound. Can you believe she actually indentured herself to come to Philadelphia? That’s a chancy proposition, to be sure. Still she seems to have landed in a good situation working in a tavern. And I hear the tavern keeper’s son is sweet on her. Peg may be a bit flighty, but she is adept at shifting for herself and has been a great help to me in some of my most desperate moments.

HELEN: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?

CALLIE:  This is the only novel I’ve appeared in, though there’s a very real possibility my adventures are not over.

HELEN: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in? 

CALLIE:  I do find myself in any number of very uncomfortable situations in the course of my journey, so ‘tis difficult to say which is worst. [Leans forward and snaps the fan shut] However, finding the odious Mr. Asher dead in his study, a knife in his back and Davy McRae at the window, surely tops the list. With the family pounding up the stairs and crying out I was to blame for Mr. Asher’s murder, was it any wonder I fled? I had no time to think. Unfortunately, my precipitous departure only made the family more certain of my guilt.

HELEN: And your favourite scene? 

CALLIE:  I am fortunate indeed that in midst of such trials, I still have many scenes worth fond remembrance. One that comes to mind is in the wild lands south of Philadelphia. Davy and I came upon an immigrant farm family, the Jurgensons. I believe they were from Sweden, though since they spoke very little English I cannot be sure. In any case, they invited us to stay for supper and offered us a place to sleep for the night. I never expected such hospitality in the wilderness. And the music! Betwixt Davy’s fife, and Mr. Jurgenson’s voice, you can be sure they set our feet to tapping. Indeed, it put me in mind of home. [pauses to dab at her eyes and take a sip of tea] Even though ‘twas held in a one room cabin, I count that evening as fine as any spent in Grandfather’s parlour.

HELEN: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books? 

CALLIE:  Mrs. Karsten is passionate about writing, historical cookery, and travel. She balances her time between these three pursuits. Her second historical novel is When Luck Runs Out, which is an orphan train story for younger readers, set in 1869. She has written a teacher’s guide for that novel, as well as two unrelated non-fiction books, From Brick to Bread: Building a backyard oven, and Snags and Sawyers: 2000 Miles Down the Arkansas River. Mrs. Karsten has also written a number of short stories and articles for various magazines, newspapers, and anthologies.

HELEN: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?

CALLIE:  Oh, absolutely. Mrs. Karsten is nearly finished with another historical fiction novel, a murder mystery, set in a tavern north of Philadelphia. The story centers around Penelope Corbitt, a resourceful woman, used to taking care of herself. But when her absent husband is reported dead, she loses everything she owns to pay off his debts. Without a husband or a home, she is forced to journey north to live off the charity of her sister’s husband. Along the way there, she discovers a dead man in a tavern privy. Penelope must work with the tavern keeper to find the killer if she ever hopes to find a safe haven for her family. Clearly, Penelope Corbitt is a woman I’d dearly love to meet. And I hear she makes the most delicious gingerbread to be had in all the colonies. 

HELEN: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?

CALLIE:  Talking about books with friends is most useful, whether it be face to face or on this thing called ‘Internet’, through various digital platforms, whatever that means. [gives an embarrassed laugh] Doubtless, word of mouth is still one of the best ways for readers to learn about good stories. It’s also really helpful when book groups choose a book to share. Best of all is when the group invites the author to meet with them to discuss the book.

HELEN:  Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion. Does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?

CALLIE:  The IndieBRAG Medallion is a great honour, especially because it is awarded based on the judgement of independent readers. IndieBRAG is very active in promoting Medallion books on in all sorts of ways, through featured books and themed books on something called ‘social media’.  I know Terri Karsten appreciates all they do and applauds the hard work and integrity of IndieBRAG readers. 

HELEN: Thank you Callie. It was a pleasure talking to you. Now, would your author like to add a short excerpt while we enjoy another cup of tea, and I think I have some gingerbread here, or do try one of those chocolates, they are very nice.

CALLIE: The pleasure is all mine. You’ll find an excerpt below, followed by some useful contact information. Thank you for the tea, and are these chocolates? For eating? How extraordinary. I only know of drinking chocolate. [Takes one of the chocolates and tentatively puts it to her lips. Then smiles, closing her eyes as she bites into sweet morsel] Mmm…delightful.

Helen: Have another. Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree! 


The stamp of my foot, or perhaps just my presence, alerted an older man standing among a cluster of young women near my own age. He stared at me a moment, then separated from them and hurried toward me, flapping his hands and beckoning. With his white wig askew, his dark coat stretched tight across a round belly, and his striped stockings revealing short, skinny legs, he resembled an agitated chicken. I stepped back, stifling an urge to laugh. I half expected him to cluck at me.
“Come, come, Miss MacLaughlin,” he said in a clipped English accent, speaking before he was even near me. “You are late and keeping the others waiting. I thought I made it clear what time to be here and that dawdlers would surely be left behind.”
“I beg your pardon, sir. There is some mistake. I am not Miss MacLaughlin and I have no appointment.” I backed away from his flapping hands.
At the same time, two other men emerged from the shadows of the waiting cargo. These men were much rougher, the kind Mam warned me about. I sucked in sharply as they slid to either side of me. I turned to run, but they grabbed my arms, their fingers digging in painfully.
“Let go of me!” I twisted, trying to pull free. “Help! Someone!”
The chicken man nodded, and the scoundrel on my right jabbed me hard in the ribs. I sagged and gasped for air, just as the other fellow hit me in the jaw. Pain blackened my vision and turned my legs to jelly. The man on my left caught me neatly and scooped me up like a child. The other tore away the lace at my bodice with a swift jerk.
“Taken a bit faint, sir,” he called out, presumably to the chicken man. It had all happened so fast no one on the dock even noticed.
I struggled, but none of my limbs quite worked. The dark, scruffy face of the man carrying me looked fuzzy through the watery haze of my tears. Even my voice refused to obey. Had the blow broken my jaw?


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  1. Love stories where the main character finds it "difficult for me to tell exactly who really is my enemy and who is a friend." Nice interview!

  2. Lovely meeting you, Callie. I hope your jaw ache improved quickly.

  3. We are proud of having this terrific book on the indieBRAG Library. Callie's story was of particular interest to me since I am from the great city of Philadelphia. I do hope we hear more from Callie in the future - so keep writing Ms. Karsten!

  4. I enjoyed meeting Callie, her life certainly sounds adventurous!

  5. Apologies for delay in leaving a comment (I've been a tad unwell) I'm so pleased that Novel Conversations is doing well - and here we are with yet another fab character and author!

  6. Hope you are feeling better Helen... I am loving these character interviews. Thank you.

    1. Yes, feeling better at last - I'm thrilled that so many people are enjoying our Novel Conversations! We've lots more to come!


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