Sisters Of The Sweetwater Fury

Genre: Historical Fiction

Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury

By Kinley Bryan


Three sisters. Two Great Lakes. One furious storm.

Based on actual events…

It’s 1913 and Great Lakes galley cook Sunny Colvin has her hands full feeding a freighter crew seven days a week, nine months a year. She also has a dream—to open a restaurant back home—but knows she’d never convince her husband, the steward, to leave the seafaring life he loves.

In Sunny’s Lake Huron hometown, her sister Agnes Inby mourns her husband, a U.S. Life-Saving Serviceman who died in an accident she believes she could have prevented. Burdened with regret and longing for more than her job at the dry goods store, she looks for comfort in a secret infatuation.

Two hundred miles away in Cleveland, youngest sister Cordelia Blythe has pinned her hopes for adventure on her marriage to a lake freighter captain. Finding herself alone and restless in her new town, she joins him on the season’s last trip up the lakes.

On November 8, 1913, a deadly storm descends on the Great Lakes, bringing hurricane-force winds, whiteout blizzard conditions, and mountainous thirty-five-foot waves that last for days. Amidst the chaos, the women are offered a glimpse of the clarity they seek, if only they dare to perceive it.

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Author Bio:

Kinley Bryan is an Ohio native who counts numerous Great Lakes captains among her ancestors. Her great-grandfather Walter Stalker was captain of the four-masted schooner Golden Age, the largest sailing vessel in the world when it launched in 1883. Kinley’s love for the inland seas swelled during the years she spent in an old cottage on Lake Erie. She now lives with her husband and children on the Atlantic Coast, where she prefers not to lose sight of the shore. Sisters of the SweetwaterFury is her first novel.

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When Angels Fly

November 19, 2021

Interview with Kinley Bryan, author of Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Thank you so much for having me today. I’m a historical novelist living in South Carolina, although I was born and raised in Ohio. Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury, which is my first novel, is inspired by actual events during the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. I knew I wanted to make this catastrophic storm the setting for my story after learning that my great-grandparents, sailors on the Great Lakes, survived it. I love living near the water. I used to live on Lake Erie, and I now live with my husband and children near the Atlantic Ocean; however, I am definitely not a sailor.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?

Yes, I’ve always loved to write. In college, I majored in English, interned at the university press, and had a part-time job as a writing tutor. After graduation I found work in corporate communications. For years a little voice in my head said I ought to try writing a novel, but I would always hush it up. Finally I got tired of telling myself “no” and I started writing.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

The difficult part was how long it took to learn the craft of writing fiction, and to get to the point where I felt my writing was ready for the world. Although it’s the first book I’ve published, Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury is the fourth book I’ve written. I now consider those first three as practice. Because I write historical fiction, there’s a lot of research required to get the setting and characters right, and it’s certainly time consuming. But I’ve found that I love the research.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I’ve been frustrated at times, but I’ve never wanted to give up. The act of writing is too important to me. I get antsy if I haven’t written in a while. So I try to take the frustrating bits and learn from them.

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

I couldn’t do this without the support of my husband, Mike. I often worried it was indulgent of me to spend so much time learning the craft. But Mike has always supported me. He’s taken my dreams seriously and for that I am grateful.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Writers thrive on positive feedback, and reviews are so important. If you enjoy Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury and want to leave a review, it would make my day.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

There’s the oft-repeated advice, “Write what you know,” but I follow a different take on this: “Write what you want to know more about.” Unfortunately, I don’t recall where I heard it.

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury is set in 1913, and it’s the story of three women’s struggles to exert some control over their own lives, at a time when society’s roles for women were limited. In that sense my novel would appeal to people who read historical fiction by writers such as Ellen Marie Wiseman and Kim Michele Richardson. But the novel can also be enjoyed as an adventure story—most of the novel takes place during the storm, and as a whole it’s fast-paced—and I think this gives it a wider potential audience.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

I had always envisioned illustrated elements rather than photographic ones for the cover. I also wanted the cover to depict stormy seas. Other than those two things, I didn’t know what it would look like. I was lucky to find a wonderful designer who created a cover I absolutely love.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I’m currently doing the research for my next novel, so I’m afraid I don’t have anything to share just yet.

Any last words before we wrap things up?

When I do have something to share, I will include it in my (very infrequent) newsletter. Readers can sign up on my website for updates on new releases and book promotions. Thanks again for having me on your blog today!

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