Monday, September 24, 2007
SEP07 FEATURED AUTHOR: Louise M. Gouge
SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
Louise M. Gouge: Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction and historical romance. She also teaches English and humanities at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee, FL. Among her seven published titles is the multi-award winning Hannah Rose, Book Two of Ahab's Legacy. Her latest “Then Came” series is set in the post-Civil War period: Then Came Faith (2006), Then Came Hope (2007), and Then Came Love (2008). With her great love of history and research, Louise has traveled to several of her locations to ensure the accuracy of her stories’ settings. When she isn't writing, she and her husband love to visit historical sites and museums.
SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?
GOUGE: Then Came Hope tells the story of Delia, who was born a slave and then physically and emotionally battered all of her seventeen years. Finally free, she strikes out on her own, making friends with a little band of former slaves and a handsome black soldier, Ezra Johns.
A long and arduous journey takes this rag-tag band of survivors through a violent flood, bitter southerners, hunger and exhaustion under a blazing summer sun, and even a murder charge and near lynching.
With the help of two humble farmers, they at last earn their train and boat fare to Boston. Back in his home city, Ezra works to complete his education. However, he discovers that despite his service to his country, black men still must struggle for respect and a place in American society.
SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
GOUGE: I would like for readers never to grow weary of studying our history. Delia, Ezra, and their friends represent the countless black Americans who struggled to find their place in American society in a time when everything was against them. In the midst of it all, faith, hope, love, and courage sustained them all, just as it can sustain us today, no matter what our circumstances.
SORMAG: Why did you choose to write a historical with African American as the lead characters?
GOUGE: As a white child growing up in America’s pre-Civil Rights South, I was confused by the contradictions between what I learned in Sunday school (Jesus loves the little children. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.) and what I saw out in the world: separate restrooms, separate water fountains, and separate and very unequal schools. My family moved out of the South when I was a teen, and I watched the Civil Rights movement from afar by way of television. Unable to articulate my thoughts – because nobody wanted to hear them – I tucked them away. But the ache and the sense of injustice never left me. By writing Then Came Hope, I feel that at last I have an opportunity to participate in the “discussion.”
SORMAG: What did you learn while writing this book?
GOUGE: Mentally, I learned a lot about South Carolina history! Spiritually, I learned about the amazing triumph of the human spirit in the former slaves who, against all odds, made their lives count for themselves and their children. Again, we must never forget these lessons in courage and faith.
SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
GOUGE: I love creating new characters and then watching them take on lives of their own. I also love doing research. Historical fiction is a delight to research, and I’m always tempted to put far more information into my story than necessary. What do I hate? Well, that’s a pretty strong word because I love the whole process of writing a novel. However, I am always nervous when I have a deadline looming in the near future. Talk about pressure!
SORMAG: What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?
GOUGE: First, I wish I’d known about ACFW – American Christian Fiction Writers, sooner. They are a great organization, and I’ve learned so much and met so many new friends. Second, referring back to the previous question, I wish I’d known not to put in every tidbit of research, no matter how “delicious” it might be, because it can detract from the story. My stories today have a faster pace than my earlier ones, and this suits today’s reading public much better. Actually, I can’t think of a third thing. I feel blessed by God to have a few books published, and I trust Him to direct my writing future.
SORMAG: What should a new writer know about the publishing business?
GOUGE: It’s a slow process, so be patient. Learn everything you can about the writing craft, write the best story you possibly can, attend conferences, learn some more, edit your story, meet other authors, pitch your story to editors, and then let God have the reins. If you try to force your career, you might just end up causing more harm than good.
SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?
GOUGE: Because I’m a college professor (English and humanities) in addition to being a writer, I have to sneak time for myself into my busy schedule. Sometimes as I race toward that looming deadline mentioned above, I get so focused that I neglect not only myself, but also my dear husband of forty-two years. To catch up and clear our minds, we like to take short breaks to museums and historical sites. Then we’re ready to get back into the busy-ness of work.
SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website):
GOUGE: I love to hear from my readers. You can contact me through the “Share your own thoughts with Louise” on my website, www.Louisemgouge.com.
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