Thursday, August 3, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Donna Schlachter!

Claire -- The Story Behind the Story
By Donna Schlachter

When I was invited to write a book for the Rescue Me: Mail-Order Bride series, I was thrilled. I’d already written several mail-order stories, loved the dynamics of romance, and particularly appreciated the opportunity—and indeed the encouragement—to include suspense or mystery in the plot.

My character, Claire, was actually supposed to be somebody else. Sort of. I had envisioned her as looking a lot like my sister-in-law Tina. In fact, I started writing a book named after said SIL, then realized I had the wrong storyline. However, being two chapters in, I didn’t want to trash the words I’d written, so I went back and revised this storyline a smidge to incorporate the difference. In Tina, my heroine is running from her mob-connected murdered husband, and in this one, from a contract on her own life that just resulted in her father’s death.

My hero, Toby Gilbert, is a Pinkerton operative. I named him after my father, whose middle name was 
Gilbert, and who was also a Pinkerton agent, although in a more administrative and modern-day role. Still, Toby is very much his own man, determined to be the best agent he can be, and he won’t let anybody get in his way. Not even whichever woman he chooses to reinforce his story. He’s placed an ad for a mail-order bride, even though he has no intention of marrying.

A particular trait I thought Toby should have that would serve him well as the story gets underway is that he never forgets a face. So when he sees Claire on the same train heading to Denver, he knows he knows her from somewhere. And he also knows he’ll eventually recall where. Another quirk is that he always sits with his back to a wall, facing the door. Except when my heroine purposefully seats herself in that vantage point to throw him off his game.

Pixabay/Brigitte Werner
I had previously done research about the mafia in Denver, but that focused on the 1940s and 1950s, so I delved into mobster activity and its origins, beginning in Italy and as it made its way to the United States, particularly during the 1860s through to the 1880s. This opened a whole new level of understanding for Claire and for her father and family, as well as for the law enforcement officials trying to curb the spread of illegal gun running, prostitution, drugs, and alcohol. One interesting thing I learned was that oftentimes, a mob family had lines in the sand they wouldn’t cross. For example, the Smaldone family was involved in gun running, prostitution, enforcement, and alcohol, but wouldn’t deal in drugs. And, they wouldn’t sell gasoline vouchers during the 1940s that they received for free, citing ethical reasons. Despite their criminal activity. Seems ironic.

You can check out the book here: and the other books in this multi-author Series:

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky-clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers' groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She also coaches writers at any stage of their manuscript. Learn more at

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