Friday, September 13, 2013

Feature Friday: A Visit with Ruth Axtell

Carla and Ruth in Belfast, Maine.
I love writing about New England locations, especially Massachusetts and Maine. So for today's "Feature Friday" I'm excited to welcome my friend and fellow Mainer, Ruth Axtell.

I have long admired Ruth's exceptional writing and consider her one of my all-time favorite authors. I can hardly believe that today we even share the same literary agent. But, I must confess that when I first moved to Maine 12 years ago as an aspiring writer and avid Ruth Axtell fan, one of my first thoughts was maybe someday I'll get to meet her! How exciting for me when we spent time together a few years ago when she came to present workshops at the Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers conferences. She's a wonderful writing instructor, as some of you may know if you have had the experience of being in one of her classes at the ACFW national conference.

What do you like about living in Maine?

The landscape, whether you are near the coast or inland by the lakes, Maine has a beautiful, primitive geography that cannot help inspiring a writer.

Many of your novels are English Regencies, but you also write novels set in Maine. Please tell us about your Maine novels.

I have written 2 two-book series, a standalone novel, and a novella. The first series includes Wild Rose and Lilac Spring, both set in an 1870s fictitious seacoast village modeled on the one I live in. The standalone novel and the novel are set in a similar village though I’ve changed the name. These stories focus on the lives of the fishermen and farmers who inhabited this rugged Downeast coast.

The second series, Her Good Name and The Lady and the Logger are set in a neighboring town in the 1890s, and are focused more on the logging industry in Maine during this era.

We'd love to hear about your new release, The Lady and the Logger.

The Lady and the Logger  tells the story of the shy young sister of the hero of Her Good Name. I needed to pair her with her opposite, someone who is a brash, self-confident risk-taker, a good foil for her shy, introverted nature. They are also opposites, because she is the daughter of a prominent logging baron, while he is just an itinerant river driver.

Was there anything that you found particularly interesting while researching the story?

Yes, the whole history of the logging industry in Maine in the 19th century, particularly the river drives that came to these coastal logging towns in late spring. I watched a wonderful video of one of the last river drives into Machias, Maine in the early 20th century and heard the firsthand accounts of these men, the dangers they faced riding the logs down the rivers, but the fun and exhilaration they experienced as well.

That sounds like an exhilarating experience indeed!What made you decide to self-publish The Lady and the Logger as an e-book?  Will there be more like it?

Having talked to many writers who have gone the self-publishing route, I decided to test the waters myself. After years of working under tight deadlines and contracts, I needed a time to re-discover my voice. This past year, writing and editing The Lady and the Logger and going back to older manuscripts I’ve written but never found the right publishing home for, has been a liberating time. I’ve enjoyed pushing boundaries in my writing and going back and rereading old manuscripts and being amazed at how rich my writing was in the beginning.

An affirming choice! What's in view for Ruth Axtell?

I am currently editing and revising five manuscripts and planning to self-publish each one, ideally once a month from now until the end of the year. In all of them, I break away from my Regency England or coastal Maine settings. The stories range from the Golden era of Holland (think the age of Rembrandt and the Dutch masters a la Girl with a Pearl Earring) to a historical romance set during a Polish revolution in 1830, the era of Chopin and the French revolution described in Les Misérables. I also have a contemporary romance set in Amsterdam and a New Adult romance set in contemporary New England.

I will return to Regency England next spring with the publication of A Heart’s Rebellion, a traditionally-published novel from Revell Books.

Thank you for visiting! Connect with Ruth online at

Ruth Axtell knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first story—a spy thriller—at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands then worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the  nextseveral years she juggled both writing and raising three children. In 1994, her second manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart competition. In 2002, her sixth manuscript took second place in the Laurie Contest of RWA’s Smoky Mountain chapter. The final judge requested her full manuscript and this became her first published book, Winter Is Past. Since then, Ruth has gone on to publish fourteen historical romances and one novella. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, German, Polish, and Afrikaans. Her second historical, Wild Rose, was chosen by Booklist as a “Top Ten Christian Fiction” selection in 2005. Ruth lives on the coast of Maine where she enjoys gardening, walking, swimming, reading romances, and gazing at the ocean plotting her next romance. 


  1. I have adored Maine since I was a child taking vacations to Wells Beach and Kennebunk. I haven't found much CBA fiction written in New England, sadly. I would love to check out this series set in 1890's Maine.
    I had the pleasure of attending Ruth and Julie Lessman's class in St Louis two years ago--A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss. LOVED it, BTW, and actually won a critique from Ruth that day. She was so gracious and helpful!
    Thanks, Carla, for this chance to hear about Ruth's new work. Wishing both of you ladies all the best!

    1. Thank you, Kathy! It's great visiting with Ruth on my blog, and we are hoping to catch up in person in a few weeks. I agree with you about lack of NE settings. I heard so many great things about that workshop. I think people are still talking about it!

  2. I've been a fan of Ruth's for years. Can't wait to read The Lady and the Logger. Nicely done interview. May God continue to bless both ladies, Ruth & Carla, long into the future.

  3. Very interesting interview and I am glad to hear that you are going back and reviving stories that got left behind.
    The Lady and the Logger has now gone on my to read list.
    I have never been to Maine or Alaska, the only states I've not ventured to. I look forward to a day when I could take a road trip to Maine, but in the meantime I will visit through your novels.


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