10 Year Anniverary & New Releases Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' Butterfly Cottage - Melanie B, Dogwood Plantation - Patty H R, Janet Grunst's winner is Connie S., Denise Weimer's Winner is Kay M., Naomi Musch's winner is Chappy Debbie, Angela Couch - Kathleen Maher, Pegg Thomas Beverly D. M. & Gracie Y., Christy Distler - Kailey B., Shannon McNear - Marilyn R.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Interview with Shannon McNear by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Shannon McNear

What got you interested in the colonial time period?

Well, if a decade or two of breathing the air of Charleston, South Carolina, won’t do it ... :-) Seriously, what really fired my imagination was attending my first Revolutionary War reenactment in 2006, the 230th anniversary of the Siege of Charleston. From that day, I was seriously hooked—and this in an area probably best known for Civil War history.

What inspired your latest colonial work?

Story after story of the conflict between Americans who fought for independence and those who chose loyalty to the king.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?

Old Fort Dorchester State Park, now known as Colonial Dorchester. It’s one of the few local sites that hasn’t been built over, which means there’s a wealth of archaeological finds just twelve inches or so down. Also, since it’s one of the lesser-known area attractions, it tends to be quiet and peaceful—a great place I can let my family run and play. And I love the fort and church ruins, and the cemetery.

If you care to say, you can tell readers where you live and what colonial places you have in your state or your home state if different.

We live on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina, and there are too many places to list! Seriously, Charleston was the busiest seaport on the southern coast during colonial times, possibly the richest. We have plantations, town homes, forts, churches (some ruined and some not), buildings of commerce, and old jails. Inland and upstate are battlefield sites in various states of upkeep (one is half under water now). Kings Mountain, which I wrote about in Defending Truth, is right up on the state line.

Do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy and would like to share with readers?

Just one?? I suppose johnnycakes would be the obvious choice since they figure so prominently in Defending Truth.

Johnnycakes—or journeycakes—are essentially cornmeal pancakes. I can’t find serious provenance for the use of baking soda or powder before the early 1800’s, so the main leavening agent would have been eggs. Here’s the basic recipe as I recently tested it:

2 cups cornmeal (stoneground is best, I grind my own with a Nutrimill, which makes the meal more “thirsty” than commercial, aged cornmeal)
½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ c. milk, more or less

Stir dry ingredients together, beat in eggs, then add milk to make a pourable batter. Fry like pancakes—best on a hot, oiled cast iron griddle—and drench in butter. :-) Or butter and syrup, or butter and jam.

This is a very flexible recipe. You can substitute flour for half the cornmeal, or change up the sugar for honey or molasses. Definitely don’t hesitate to adjust the amount of milk to make your batter the desired consistency—a thicker batter makes for a thicker cake. Also, make them a little smaller than you think you should, since they tend to be very filling.

Story overview/blurb

On the frontier of western North Carolina, which will someday become east Tennessee, Truth Bledsoe keeps her family fed while her father is away fighting the British. When she discovers a half-starved, fugitive Tory, she’s not above feeding him, but to go past simple Christian charity to forgiveness seems impossible. To love would be unthinkable.

Micah Elliot has fled capture after the massacre at King’s Mountain, heartsick, battle weary, and ashamed of the cowardice that sent him westward over the mountains instead of eastward to home. Groping his way through a crisis of faith, he must discover and embrace what might finally be worth laying down his life for.

Author bio

Shannon McNear has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteen—but it would be more than thirty years before she’d receive her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her writing experience includes former interview coordinator and review editor for Christian Fandom, founding contributor of Speculative Faith, and founding member of the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog Tour. She has also served as area coordinator, southeast zone director, and local chapter founder and president for American Christian Fiction Writers. She's an active member of ACFW, RWA, and My Book Therapy.

At the 2012 ACFW conference, to her shock and delight, she was awarded a first-time author contract from Barbour Publishing for her historical romance novella Defending Truth. It released September 2013 as part of A Pioneer Christmas Collection.

A Midwestern farm girl transplanted more than 20 years ago to Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history, especially the colonial era. When not homeschooling, sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she finds joy in worship, women’s ministry, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.


  1. You are amazing Shannon, accomplishing all you do, between writing, homeschooling, and making that lovely colonial dress. I so enjoyed getting to know you at Conference and look forward to reading your Pioneer Christmas story.

  2. Ah, thank you so much for your kind words, Janet! And thank you, Carrie and all you lovely ladies, for having me. :-) You're all such a blessing!

  3. Hi, Shannon. I love Charleston, too. Wishing you all the best with your book and your writing.

    1. Thank you so much, Susan! See you in a month, at Camden? :-D

  4. Now didn't I say she was awesome ! I too cannot wait to read your story and look forward to more by you. Again you are an encouragement to me as a Homeschooling Mom who writes...
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books

    1. Oh goodness, Linda! Thank you so much ... I'm so glad I can be an encouragement! It's tough to carve out writing time, but you know, I'm learning to lean more on the Lord to sustain me in those dual callings of mommying and writing ... bless you as you walk this road, too!

  5. Wonderful and fascinating interview, Shannon. It's been such fun getting to know more and more about you. And I'll be trying out those johnnycakes for sure!

    1. Thank YOU, Anna! It's been wonderful getting to know you as well, my fellow debut author. Blessings!!! <3

  6. I am drooling over the JohnnyCakes. Oh how I love them! Oh how they are not good for me when I'm trying to drop a few pounds... ahem...

    I loved meeting you, Shannon, in Indianapolis and look forward to the next time. How I'd love to tour Charleston with you. As history lovers (okay geeks) it's a charge to hear your love of the colonial period and Charleston. I wish you much success with this new story and know there are many more to come!

    1. Oh, I understand! I'm diabetic and trying to do mostly grain-free (at least wheat-free), and they're a huge temptation. :-D

      I loved meeting you, too!! I'd love the touring, too ... sigh, any chance you could come in the next several weeks?? We're probably moving about Thanksgiving time ....

      Anyway, thank you so much! You (and everyone else) have so blessed me with your encouragement and enthusiasm!

  7. I need to add Colonial Dorchester to my visit list with my kids. It sounds great - quiet family place. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome, Susan! We absolutely love it. Mepkin Abbey (formerly Mepkin Plantation, home of Henry Laurens, first president of the Continental Congress) is also a beautiful, restful place to visit. :-)

  8. Thanks for the recipe, Shannon. Enjoyed your interview! Love the storyline of your novella, & would love to read it!

    1. Thanks so much! The story was a lot of fun to write. I hope you enjoy it when you are able to read it! :-)


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