A big welcome today to author Louise M. Gouge!
A: I discovered a tidbit of history I hadn’t known and turned it into a three-book series. I have lived in Florida for thirty-one years, and yet for twenty-five of those years, it never sunk in that this state was once a British colony. Florida? Spanish colony, right? Yes, for most of two hundred years. But during one of those many European wars of past centuries, Spain had to hand over this colony to England in 1763. Out went the hapless Spanish settlers, many of whom had been born here. In came the eager English AND a bunch of Americans from the northern colonies. Many settled in the capital, St. Augustine, and others established plantations, where they grew oranges, lemons, rice, indigo, and many other products. Then, when the thirteen colonists rebelled against England, many loyalists had to flee their homes and come to Florida, which had no wish to separate from the mother country. Of course, all this conflict makes a wonderful setting for a romance novel. In my case, it’s been the inspiration for a series of three books.
The first book, Love Thine Enemy (Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical 2009), takes place on one of those indigo plantations along the St. Johns River, and the hero and heroine are on different sides of the Revolution. Then, in one of those fun fiction happenings, a secondary character from that story asked for his own book, so along comes The Captain’s Lady (Harlequin’s LIH 2010). Again, the hero and heroine are on different sides in the conflict. For variety, this story takes place in London. What fun to imagine the drawing rooms and manor houses of England!
For the third book, At the Captain’s Command, I wanted to do something different, so I began to ask myself more questions. What if my hero and heroine are on the same side? Furthermore, what if they are both in favor of England winning the war? What conflict could I create? Easy. She’s an American Loyalist of no particular social status who has vowed never to marry a seafaring man. He is an English naval captain, the son of an influential earl who would forbid his son’s marriage to a “common American.” Conflict enough? I think so.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: No, not really. As a child, I had a very active imagination that didn’t quit as I grew older. But I wanted to become an actress and opera singer and trained for both. However, to show how serious I was about that show biz career, when I met my wonderful husband, I gave up those dreams and had a wonderful time becoming a wife and mother. I happily settled for taking part in church drama and choir for many years. But as my children grew older, I wondered what I would do with myself. A friend gave me a shove (hi, Pat Bickers!) to start writing the stories that I dreamed up. I had been writing church dramas for years, but writing a novel? Well, I decided to give it a try. That first nugget of an idea became two books, my first publishing credits.
Q: How does your faith impact your writing?
A: If it were not for my Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be a writer. He is the Ultimate Reality, the One we all need to know for this life and for eternity. So when I write a story, my characters mirror real life when they come to God for salvation and for help to walk through this crazy world. Not that everything turns out just peachy, because it doesn’t in real life. We all have grief and disappointment. The most important lesson we can learn is that He will be with us, no matter how bad things get. I try to live with that hope, and I pray my readers will find that joy through my stories.
Q: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A: I have a basic plot and know where I’ll end up. But sometimes on the journey, I have side trips and secondary characters who keep interrupting the main story. Those are lots of fun and really enrich the stories.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?
A: I love the whole process of creating characters and the adventures they will experience. When I begin a new story, it’s like going on a journey with new friends. As we progress on the journey, I find satisfaction in helping them reach their goals. As far as the least favorite part, I don’t like to be “in between contracts.” LOL!
Q: What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A: I do love contests. I didn’t enter any as an unpublished writer, but I’ve entered several published books in contests. In fact, one of my books won the 2006 IRCC for historical fiction. What a thrill! But I also judge contests and try to give the entrants some helpful suggestions to improve their writing. Often the winners will end up with contracts, so I rejoice for them. I believe contests are a great way to discover whether or not you’re equipped for this tough writing business.
Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
A: I do have another career that probably would be full time. I’m a college English and humanities professor at a nearby college. I love having an impact on my students, and they seem to respond to my efforts to interest them in a larger world.
Q: What does your family think about your crazy career?
A: My family has been wonderful in supporting me from day one. My dear husband is my first reader and often points out places where I could improve a story. My children and siblings encourage me and actually read my books and urge their friends to buy them. Long ago, when I first began, my kids would come home from school and ask what I’d written that day. They wanted me to succeed. Without that support, I doubt I would have continued.
Q: There’s been a lot said about the future of publishing and the possible death of the print book. What’s your take on eBooks, self-publishing, and such?
A: My attitude has completely changed in the past year. E-books are becoming very popular, so I’m excited to watch my sales go up in that format. As far as self-publishing is concerned, I know many people who have not been published traditionally are going that route when they can’t sell their books to traditional houses. Personally, I prefer that extra editing step before my book goes to print (or e-book). My editors have kept me from mistakes and have improved my writing. Too many people lack the skills to write, but they think readers will overlook that. Big mistake. If you must self-publish, at least hire a freelance copy editor or book doctor to spruce up your work. It will save you a lot of embarrassment. On the other hand, I may bring out some of my out-of-print titles that were published long before e-books came along and “self-publish” in that format. But these books have already been vetted and sold. Further, I’m a college English professor, so I know my grammar is correct. Aspiring writers should try very hard not to insult readers by offering inferior work just to stoke their own egos.
Q: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A: Oh, that’s easy. I would love to have a robot housemaid to clean my house and do all my cooking. I used to be such a great housekeeper, but when I have a deadline, the dust piles up. Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful husband who like to cook and is very good at it. In all fairness, though, I should do some of the cooking because he has a job, too. That’s when the robot would come in handy.
Thank you so much for having me as a guest blogger. I hope your readers will give my books a try.
Thank you, Louise! It was a pleasure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction, calling her stories “threads of grace woven through time.” In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Married to David Gouge for forty-six years, Louise is a mother of four and grandmother of six children. In addition to writing, she teaches English and humanities at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee , Florida. To learn more about Louise, visit her website at http://blog.louisemgouge.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK - At the Captain's Command (Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical).
A heroic British naval captain, son of an influential earl, dares to fall in love with a provincial American girl. Then he discovers her family's devastating secret.
Loyal to the British Crown, orphaned Dinah Templeton has vowed never to marry a seafaring man, for her father died at sea and her merchant captain brother is always away. But when Captain Thomas Moberly sails into St. Augustine to defend the East Florida shores from American pirates, Dinah finds that her heart may overrule her head regarding this seafarer. Captain Thomas Moberly, captain of HMS Dauntless, has been assigned to capture the notorious American pirate Nighthawk, who plagues the Atlantic coast of East Florida. War-weary and hoping for a refreshing visit with his brother and sister, who live near St. Augustine, Thomas never expects to find love. But how can he resist the lovely Miss Templeton, even though she is what his father, Lord Bennington, would call a common American?
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of At the Captain's Command, just leave a comment on this post. PLEASE NOTE: USA and Canadian residents only for this one. I’ll pick a winner at random on Thursday, May 5th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!