About Trana Mathews:
Since there's an author named Diane Hildebrandt who writes reference books, I decided to use Trana Mathews as my pen name. My love for books has been constant throughout my life, though my choice of literary genre often changed. I love it when I just can't put a book down!
After retiring to beautiful southeastern Arizona in 2015, I began researching and writing my family's history. This kept me busy and out of trouble, besides my third great-grandfather's life fascinated me. With my mother, aunt, and daughter, I had toured his Ohio home, which is owned by the Muskingum Historical Society, in the 1980s.
I'm actively involved in Friends of the Huachuca City Library, local community groups, and several writing groups. In my spare time, I also enjoy crafting. I have two adult children, and Macchiato (my rescue cat) has been kind enough to adopt me.
What inspires you to write?
As a young teen, I read a limited edition copy of my third great-grandfather's journal. His life fascinated me. During the 1980s, I toured the Ohio home he built in 1805 which is now a historical society museum. I'd always thought his diary and story should be told, but I never dreamed I'd been the one to do it. After retiring, I began researching and received transcripts of actual letters between family members. What a treasure trove!
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
I'm a "bookaholic" and enjoy many genres. While I love historical fiction, I also read fantasy and sci-fi. I would say that John Jakes has given me the most inspiration. While his "Kent Family Chronicles" were about an imaginary family, his early work entails the same period of American history.
Tell us about your writing process.
Not a person who outlines. I began writing during the November 2016 NaNoWriWo. Setting aside each morning as my writing time, I met this goal then continued after more research. Participating again the following year, I kept going. By now, my work was much too large to be contained within a single novel.
I had a general basis for what I wanted to write about, but this changed when I received these transcripts. My focus shifted to his entire family, and my task now entailed how Increase would have had access to these letters. The first novel changed into a coming-of-age story of young Increase. It encompasses the start of the Revolutionary War and continues through the settlement of Ohio by his relatives. Very different from what I originally wrote!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I may sound crazy, but I do listen to Increase. He's led me to find odd information while researching. For example, he led me to find a cousin. Had no idea this person lived with his family when young. When I later received the transcripts, he was mentioned in one letter. Several times further research has confirmed what Increase told me to write. If I don't listen to him, writer's block occurs.
What advice would you give other writers?
Contrary to other advice, I now revise as I write. After about ten chapters, I use the "read aloud" function and make changes. This has helped me spot timing errors and lack of pertinent information that should be brought up before a later chapter.
The only problem I encountered was I didn't complete enough research before I began writing during NaNoWriMo.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
As a senior with limited funds, the only choice for me was to self-publish. I also didn't want to spend time finding a publisher because I wanted my novels to be read by my only remaining uncle, who is now in his 80s.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Book publishing will continue to evolve as more authors decide to self-publish. To meet a growing need, more book marketing firms will appear.
What genres do you write?: early American historical fiction, family saga
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.