Thursday, April 27, 2017

Romance on the Pony Express, with Donna Schlachter


Here's the overview of the collection as it appears on Amazon:
Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express.
Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials?

Hi, Donna, so good to have you as my guest here again. I have some questions for you about this Pony Express Romance Collection. You’re in good company, I see.

So, tell me … how did you come to be a part of this collection?

Donna: I met one of the dreamers and asked what she was working on. She said she was doing a proposal for a Pony Express Romance Collection. I said, "I'd love to be in on that." She told me all the slots were filled, but if something came up, she'd let me know. About a month later, she emailed to say one of the other authors dropped out and was I interested. Was I interested? I knew nothing about the Pony Express, didn't write romance, but wanted in anyway. And they were gracious enough to take me under their wing.

Peg: Who dreamed it up?

Donna: Mary Davis and Debby Lee came up with the original idea.

Peg: I love historical fiction, and the Pony Express part of our country’s western expansion captivates me, and it certainly is romantic. Tell me a little about your story featured in this book.

Donna: Catherine Malloy responds to an advertisement for a mail order bride on behalf of her best friend Maggie who can't read or write. But Maggie dies, and Catherine sees this as her way out of the menial job she's been forced to take. Plus she's developed feelings for Benjamin through his letters. Benjamin, who is also illiterate, needs a cook/housekeeper, and a friend offers to put in the ad and write and read his letters. But the friend knows Benjamin needs a wife, so he changes the ad.

Peg: How much research did you have to do while writing it?

Donna: I originally was going to write a completely different story, one set in Echo Canyon, Utah. In fact, originally the book was going to be set at one station. So I traveled the Pony Express route and since I was the only author in the collection who had, we chose Echo Canyon. But there was some lag time, and I went ahead and wrote the first story as a full length novel, and when the project resurrected again, I decided to choose another station I had visited, the Hollenberg Station in Marysville, Kansas. I visited there three times, went to the museums at least twice, as well as all the other research I did both in person and online and reading.

Peg: There are nine (9) authors involved in this project. How did you work together to make sure each story was different from the others?

Donna: That began with the proposals we each had to do. Then we shared the proposals around. Since all the stories are set at different stations, it wasn't difficult for each author to have a different set of circumstances.

Peg: What about your characters? Were they fun to write? Who was your favorite?

Donna: I loved my characters. I think the most fun to write was the Pinkerton Agent. Although he's a minor character, I always pictured my dad, who was a modern-day Pinkerton man, in that role.

Peg: Please share the blurb / synopsis for Echoes of the Heart.

Donna: Can a woman running from her past and a man with no foreseeable future find love along the Pony Express trail?

Peg: What’s new on the writing horizon for you?

Donna: I am currently under contract with Barbour Publishing for two more novella projects due out early next year, and then I have another cozy mystery releasing in June from my alter ego, Leeann Betts.

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled "Pony Express Romance Collection" released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.



  1. Hi Peggy, thanks for letting me reach out to your readers today. As you can see, I love the Pony Express!

    1. Donna, having you as my guest this week has been a pleasure. Yes, that brief period of time in our history does have a certain fascination.

  2. Your commitment to meticulous, hands-on research is one of the things -- but not the only thing -- that lifts your stories to a higher level of "This could have really happened." Congratulations!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Harold. I agree, diligent research is mandatory when writing historical fiction.

    2. Thanks for the encouragement, Harold. Always appreciate when readers take the time to leave a comment :)