Cassia by Susan Craft

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 | 29 comments

Cassia by Susan Craft

Susan Craft is back! Cassia, the third book in her Xanthakos Family Trilogy is out! I know you will enjoy hearing about her book and the research she does to create her story world. Leave a comment and sign in on the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a print set of all three novels! 



Fabulous Fridays

Welcome back, Susan! It’s exciting to find out about Cassia, the sequel to Laurel, and continue with the adventures of the Xanthakos family. For the readers who have not met you, tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Susan F Craft 2Come this December, I’ve been married 46 years to my high school sweetheart. We have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog named Steeler. Steeler once put himself between me and two pitbulls and a boxer who were trying to push through our fence. His bravery inspired me to include a mastiff named Cal in Cassia. I say he was brave because as a doxipoo he weighs only 14 pounds. I think he’s proud to be portrayed as a 100+ pound mastiff in my novel.

Except for two years in Japan, and one year in North Carolina, I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life. I love my little state that recently was devastated by torrential rains and floods. It’s going to take us years to come back, which I know we’ll do because we’re a very resilient people. Your prayers would be appreciated.

What is your target audience?

Adults who enjoy historical romantic suspense and good history about the late 1700s and pirates, all with an inspirational theme.

What is the most exciting part of being able to interact with your readers while you write your second book?

My readers are the reason I wrote Laurel and Cassia as a continuation of the first book in the Xanthakos Family Trilogy, The Chamomile. They asked for more, and I didn’t really want to give up my family of characters and wanted to be with them more myself.

How did you come up with the idea for Laurel and Cassia?Cassia

To continue Lilyan and Nicholas’ story I began to think of ways to test them (aren’t I mean?) and their faith. In Laurel, they’ve been married two years and have a one-year-old daughter. What better test than to have their child threatened? In Cassia I wanted the family to have an adventure that also included a way of expressing my abhorrence of slavery. When researching for The Chamomile and Laurel, my husband and I visited the NC Outer Banks and the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC. At the museum, I came across lots of information about pirates and was inspired to include them in the story.

What character in Cassia is most like you? Was that intentional, or did it just come about in the course of the writing?

I feel closeness, a kinship, to Lilyan. We’re alike in that we see problems and need and want to fix them or take care of them. Often we do this in a rush without waiting to see what God would have us do or not do. She is much kinder, more generous, and braver than I’ll ever be and she knows her way around the backcountry; whereas, I can get lost in my driveway.

The resemblance was purely unintentional.

How do you go about researching and creating a setting?Susan F Craft  2 Cherokee cabin

I love, love, love research. I’m a self-professed history nerd who enjoys researching more than writing. My husband and I travelled to Revolutionary War re-enactments and to as many places as we could so that I could breathe in the sights, sounds, and smells of settings I would later recreate in my books. One exciting adventure included exploring the tall ships that docked in the Charleston, SC harbor.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing Cassia, and how did you overcome it?

One of the characters in Cassia, Captain Galeo or Captain Shark as he is known, represents evil. Sincerely, I was surprised and shocked and more than a little sad that such a character dwelt within me. He truly is the nastiest character I’ve ever created. Over the years of attending writers’ workshops, I’ve learned that everyone has gray areas and that no one is purely good or purely evil, but Captain Shark comes close. There’s really nothing redeemable about him, and I had great difficulty finding a way to portray him as multi-dimensional.  In making this tremendous effort, I thought about life circumstances that would have warped Captain Galeo, an educated and well-mannered man, into someone who enjoys cruelty and torturing others. I realized I could feel great sympathy and compassion for someone who has turned his back on God, on goodness and kindness and who goes to his death to spend eternity in a place God refuses to dwell and without His light and love.

What is your favorite literary location you’ve visited, or that you would love to visit?

One of my characters in The Chamomile and Laurel is Golden Fawn. Lilyan’s sister-in-law, she is a Cherokee Indian. In order to build a “life” for Golden Fawn, I visited the Oconaluftee Indian village in Cherokee, NC. It’s a living museum of an 18th century village with authentic dwellings, residents, and artisans.  Numerous times I’ve wandered along pathways that twist and turn through a forest so thick the sun can barely push its way through the canopy of leaves that trap the smoke and aromas of cornmeal wrapped in cornhusks baking over an open fire.  Pushing aside a deerskin “door” to the entrance of a wattle and daub-sided cabin, I’ve soaked in the cool, dark, and earthy smells. The “vibes” that tingle across my skin never fail to stir my creativity and make my fingertips itch for my computer keys.

What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

I’m almost fanatical about making sure the historical facts in my novels are correct. I’m not perfect, of course, but I research my history to the best of my ability. I try to weave history into my books in such a subtle fashion that readers are learning something new without being aware of it.

I want to pick up my readers and plop them down into an exciting place with wonderfully interesting people and have them experience an unforgettable adventure that will live with them long after they’ve finished reading my book.

My novels are inspirational. Without preaching, I want readers to see how Christians, who are not spared the trials and pains of life, handle those experiences with faith. There is a difference.

Please share the first page of the book with us.

April 1799

The Merry Maid pitched and rolled as a welcome wind curled into her mainsail, freeing the schooner from the doldrums that had held it captive for hours.

Lilyan Xanthakos, secure in the circle of her husband’s arms as he steadied them against the rail, felt a stirring in her blood as the ship lunged forward. The lazy waves undulated and swelled gently as if God had grabbed the corners of a giant jade-green blanket and let it billow across the ocean floor. The clear, cloudless sky shone like a brilliant sapphire. She cupped her hand over her brow and craned her neck to watch crewmen descend the rat lines leading down from the billowing sails. The air crackled with their raised excited voices, the snapping of canvas, and the creaking of the rigging.

Needles of worry that had plagued Lilyan all morning danced across the back of her neck. She hated her uncanny intuitions, more so because they most times proved true.

“Thank heavens we’re moving again. It doesn’t bode well to flounder in these pirate-infested waters.”

The ship heaved, and she eyed her sons near the bow. Paul clasped his arms around his younger brother’s waist, trying to keep Marion from falling overboard as he teetered on a barrel and peered through his spyglass.

Book Blurb:

The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a slave ship.

When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.

Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.

Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan.  Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia.

Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children.  Bolstered by their faith, they realize their strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.

Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?

About the author:

Susan F CraftI’ve lived in Columbia, SC, since I was five years old. Forty-six years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. I’m a history nerd who enjoys researching for my novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my porch watching the rabbits and geese eat my daylilies. I recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader.

I write inspirational historical romantic suspense.  My Xanthakos Family Trilogy includes my Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, which won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick; its sequel Laurel, which was released in January 2015; and the third in the trilogy, Cassia, which will be released in September 2015. My publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). I currently serve on the LPC Heritage Beacon Imprint publication board and work for them as a manuscript editor of historical fiction.  My literary agent is Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” I worked with the International Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer’s Guide to Horses that can be found at


Facebook Author Page:



Twitter: @susanfcraft

Other: personal blog –

Book Links:

The Chamomile



Xanthakos trilogy





a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I’ve always enjoyed pirate stories, so this one would probably be one I’s enjoy. I am also very glad to read that the author makes every effort to be historically correct. I don’t like to read historical novels where the author has not done good research. Thanks for offering a copies of the books in the trilogy. I always like to read all of the books in a series.

    • Hi, Kay! Thanks for stopping by. It’s good to meet another person who enjoys history and appreciates books that are historically correct.

  2. I enjoy pirate stories. I also love stories that entertain and remind me that God is in control and I don’t have to rely on my own strength

    • Jan, thanks for your comments. Isn’t it good to know that God will never forsake us, no matter how we try to mess up things?

  3. I originally saw Laurel on bookgrabbr and was drawn to the gorgeous cover. It wasn’t until I started reading it and looked for Susan’s other books that I realized it was part of a trilogy. The synopsis was compelling and I really hadn’t read many or any books from that time in history. I always want a faith message weaved within Christian fiction stories, whether it is shown through the characters actions or also in their words. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Chamomile as an e-book, so I haven’t read the first book in this series.

    • Hi and thanks so much for your interest in my trilogy. Sorry that The Chamomile isn’t on ebook yet.

  4. I love this series and I must have book 3! Definitely entered!

    • Thanks, Debbie. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for the interesting interview, Susan and Norma!!

    I love the plots in this series, and the opportunity to learn tidbits of history. Thank you for your beautiful writing, Susan, and the opportunity to WIN copies of the entire series!!

    Shared post!!

    • Thanks so much, Bonnie, for your encouragement and support. They mean so much to me.

  6. I can’t wait to read these sound great. I find that I learn something new with every book I read. Looking forward to it.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Justina. I love to weave historical tidbits into my books.

  7. I can’t wait to read these sound wonderful. I find I learn more as I read More.

  8. This series sounds amazing! 🙂

    • Hi and thanks for stopping by to comment. I enjoyed writing the series and really hated to let the characters go. They had become like friends to me. 🙂 When writing a scene about someone who had just died, I was crying, and my husband hurried into my office to see what was wrong. When I told him I had killed one of my dearest characters, he looked at me and said, “They aren’t real, you know.” Astonished, I looked up at him and said, “What?!!!!”

  9. I read Cassia, but didn’t realize it was part of a trilogy. I want to read the others.

    • Hi, I wrote all three books as stand alones so that they can be read and enjoyed without having to read the others, but, I have to admit it is a richer experience to read they in sequence.

  10. I pinned on Pinterest, but never saw the URL.

    • Sometimes it is there only when you click on the pin to follow the link. I think it should still show up on the Rafflecopter.

  11. I loved hearing about your writing journey Susan. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Nan. I’ve been writing seriously for over 35 years and was ecstatic when I was finally published! I wrote my first “novel” when I was 8. It was a10-page handwritten mystery. I bound it myself with cardboard covers sewn together with dental floss.

  12. I read The Chamomile as one of the first books I reviewed on my blog and it was the first one I gave 5 Barks (stars) to. I LOVED it! And I would love to continue reading the story…

    • Thanks so much, Jasmine. I remember getting the 5 barks! Truly appreciated it. I think you’ll like Laurel and Cassia.

  13. Awesome! These sound like great reads!

    • Thanks so much, Karen.

  14. So thrilled to see your books here, Susan! I love your writing.

    • I appreciate your support and encouragement, Cynthia. It makes me smile that you like my writing. Makes it all worthwhile.

  15. Susan writes with such passion, and you feel like you are right there among the characters in her books! Great job, Susan!

    • Hi, Addis! You’re always such an encouragement to me. I hated to finish writing Cassia, as I knew I’d have to let my dear characters go. But, I’m making some new “acquaintances” and will be going on a wagon train with them. 🙂

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Did you enjoy this?

If so, please help spread the happiness! Share this post with your friends!

%d bloggers like this: