About Zina Abbott:
My name is Robyn Echols. Zina Abbott is the pen I use for my historical novels. I’m a member of Women Writing the West and I just joined Western Writers of America. I currently live with my husband in California’s central valley near the “Gateway to Yosemite.”
I love to read, quilt, work with digital images on my photo editing program, and work on my own family history.
I am a blogger. In addition to my own blog, I blog for several group blogs including the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, which I started and administer.
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Interview with Zina Abbott about Otto’s Offer
1. What prompted you to write Otto’s Offer?
I was part of the bloggers on the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog who decided to write a series for January, 2018, the Lockets & Lace series. Each book was to be a stand-alone romance, but each was to involve a particular Bavarian jeweler who had a shop in St. Joseph, Missouri. Also, we were to include something with lace. This was the book I chose.
2. Where did you get the idea for the plot?
I actually thought of this plot in connection with another series I considered writing, but have since decided against. (It was a good series idea, but there is only so much time.) However, I didn’t want to abandon this particular plot. So, I used it in this book.
3. Where did you get the idea for the character, Otto Atwell?
First of all, I wrote about Otto in an earlier book, Kizzie’s Kisses, which was part of the Grandma’s Wedding Quilts series, also by authors who blog for the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog. In that book, even though he was three years older than his cousin, Kizzie Atwell, he was a secondary character. I created an entire family for Kizzie’s uncle in the event we continued the Grandma’s Wedding Quilts theme. When it was decided to go with the new theme, I decided to continue with my plan to give Otto his own book in the Lockets & Lace series. I also decided to make these two books part of my own series, Atwell Kin. Kizzie’s Kisses is Book 2, and Otto’s Offer is Book 3.
4. Where is Book 1 in the Atwell Kin series?
It hasn’t been written yet. However, I have tentatively decided on a title, Virginia’s Vocation. Virginia will be the younger sister of Sidney and Jefferson Atwell, the two brothers who are fathers of Kizzie and Otto. As a late-in-life baby, in the late 1850’s her parents are deceased, and she is the ward of her oldest brother, Jefferson Atwell. When the family decides to leave Boonville, Missouri to obtain farmland on the edge of the frontier of the newly-opened Kansas Territory, she doesn’t want to go. Don’t ask me more than that—that’s all I got at this point.
I also plan on a shorter prequel, Book 0, for the Atwell Kin series titled Charlie’s Choice. Those who have read Kizzie’s Kisses or Otto’s Offer know who Charlie is.
5. Why did you decide on Otto being a Civil War veteran?
I personally am touched by stories about the American Civil War. There is something about all those Civil War portraits of young men preparing to leave their families to go to war that always cause me to reflect on how fleeting life can be. So many did not return home.
Since Otto was from Kansas, and makes mention in Kizzie’s Kisses that he plans to join the state militia to protect Kansas from both hostile Indian tribes and bushwhackers, I wanted a touch of his time in the military as part of his story. I found the regimental history of the 16th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry interesting, and wrote my plot around some of the detail of what that unit went through, both fighting against the Confederate army and against the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux warriors in the Powder River Expedition.
6. How did you come up with Libby’s character?
Once again, the plot that has been rattling around in my brain for years involved a heroine who escaped a bad situation by river travel. We don’t realize it today, but in the time before there were that many railroads or good wagon roads, much long-distance travel east of the Rocky Mountains was done by water. I needed her to come from the north and to arrive somewhere along the river to a city that would be reasonable as a starting point for her to come to Kansas. Coming down the Mississippi as far as St. Louis, then traveling by train across Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas, then points west, seemed a good route.
Libby’s character is complex, and she hides much about her past life for good reason. Unfortunately, in isolated, rural areas like where she was raised, her situation was probably not that uncommon. I won’t say more than that, or I will give the story away.
7. What was your overall goal in writing Otto’s Offer?
Besides writing a good, entertaining story, I intended to inspire hope that even in the worst of situations, people may find love, family, happiness, and their place in this world.
Book Description for Otto’s Offer:
In 1868, Otto Atwell has a 160 acre homestead near Abilene, Kansas and a limp as a result of a Cheyenne musket ball hitting his low back while he marched with the 16th Kansas Cavalry on the Powder River Expedition in 1865. What he doesn’t have is a wife. Then again, what woman would want to marry a cripple?
Libby Jones comes to Junction City as a mail order bride. Not only does the man who sent for her reject her, he tries to sell her to the local brothel to recoup his fee. Otto offers to marry her, but she rejects him in favor of a job with his relatives.
Will Otto’s offer still stand when trouble from Libby’s past catches up with her?