of Then Came Faith
by April Gardner
Louise M. Gouge Interview
most artists, writers are notorious for becoming easily discouraged.
Self-doubt creeps in and says, “What makes you think you’re
a writer?” ... Every chapter I finish, every book I complete,
makes a lie of that accusation. I am a writer. That’s what I
do. But most of all, I am a child of God. That’s what I am."
-- Louise M. Gouge
An exceptional lady, Louise Gouge is a stay-at-home mom turned college professor/novelist. Author of the acclaimed Ahab’s Legacy Series, which was inspired by the themes of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Louise has faithfully produced excellent fiction. She continues this trend with the new Then Came Series, the first being Then Came Faith and the second Then Came Hope, which will release in the summer of ’07.
For a rare blessing, read her biography, at www.louisemgouge.com.
April: In the short autobiography on your website you state, “When I was a girl, I had a plan. When I was fifty and my children were all grown, I would find something new and wonderful to do with the second half of my life. And guess what? That’s exactly what I did!” How wonderful that you saw so many of your dreams fulfilled! So, what’s next? What is your new dream?
Louise: I love writing, so it’s my prayer that the Lord will see fit to let me continue doing that. Every story I write has a personal meaning to me. Writers often say their books are their children, and I would love to give birth to many, many more.
You went from a full-time mom, to seeing your four children off to college, to getting your degree, to being an English professor and novelist. Can you share with us what was/is for you the most fulfilling part of being a mom, then of being a writer? What about the most wearying?
I loved being a stay-at-home mother watching my children grow up. My husband and I were blessed to have four healthy, well-adjusted children who have grown into healthy, well-adjusted, responsible citizens. I know in my head that there were times of exhaustion, but just as the pain of childbirth is forgotten in the joy over a new life, I don’t remember the weary times because the outcome has been such a blessing.
The most fulfilling thing about being a writer is hearing from my readers who have been blessed and helped by my stories. The most wearying? Hmm. I guess that would be having to write too fast to meet a looming deadline. But then the book is born, and all that bothersome rushing is forgotten in the joy of a new creation, just as with bearing a child.
Of all the books you have written, which has impacted you the most and why?
Once someone asked me if I had a favorite child. I said, “Yes. The one sitting on my lap, whichever one that might be at the time.” And so it is with my books. They are all my beloved children. As far as impact, I would say that Ahab’s Bride taught me what I could accomplish as far as research and character development. From then on, I wanted to put the same amount of energy and devotion into creating every character in every book.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Being a bit of a couch potato, I love to watch the History Channel and PBS to learn more about history. One never knows when a delightful bit of information will come out that I can use in a story. I also love to visit historical sites and museums.
Is there a particular memorable moment in your writing career you’d like to share with us?
Nothing can compare with receiving a call from my agent when she gives the good news, “We sold another book!” But more than that, I love to hear from my readers when they say how much they’ve enjoyed my story and how it affected their lives.
What two things might your readers be surprised to know about you?
One: In 1964, when I was twenty years old, I sneaked backstage at a Beatles concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. I stood about an arm’s length away from Ringo, my favorite, just before they went on stage. How did I get away with that? First, my friend was a security guard, and he took me behind the scenes. Second, I was never a screamer, so I had no trouble standing there politely in the wings to watch the Beatles perform.
Two: In high school, I won a music scholarship to college and planned to become an opera singer. While singing was important to me, I soon realized I didn’t possess the drive to surrender all to that kind of career. I left college and within a year married my dear hubby, David. We’ve been married 42 years! I’ve never regretted choosing marriage and family over career.
After reading your bio, I came to feel that you must be a very determined and hard-working individual. What drives you? What would you say has potential for being your greatest discouragement and hindrance to seeing your goals fulfilled?
When I get busy with a writing project, I can be very driven to complete the job and do it to perfection. I’m not sure where that drive comes from except maybe from my love of the writing process. I certainly don’t feel that way about cleaning my house. LOL!
Like most artists, writers are notorious for becoming easily discouraged. Self-doubt creeps in and says, “What makes you think you’re a writer?” The only way to overcome that is to park myself in front of the computer and start putting words on the page. Every chapter I finish, every book I complete, makes a lie of that accusation. I am a writer. That’s what I do. But most of all, I am a child of God. That’s what I am.
Regarding “Then Came Faith,” what inspired you to write post-civil war?
The Civil War was such an important turning point in United States history because it defined what we would become as a nation. In this first book in my “Then Came” series, I wanted to explore why Reconstruction failed and why we still suffer the consequences of that failure. André Beauchamp has been on my mind for some time, so I had to write his story. I imagined a young Christian man who deeply believes in the southern cause and who has valiantly fought in the Confederate Navy. When the South loses the war, he wonders why God had abandoned His people. Add to that his personal losses of property, slaves, and family, and it becomes the perfect setup for a Christian to question his faith very seriously and ultimately to become embittered. Of course, the heroine in this story must be his exact opposite. Juliana Harris not only has been a staunch abolitionist, but she also believes God had punished the South for perpetuating the evil institution of slavery. With two such different people living in my imagination, how could I not write their story?
With so much emphasis on the Civil War, we tend to forget the rebuilding period. Was it difficult to find research material for this particular era?
Not really. Much of the available research about the Civil War also has information about the Reconstruction period. Because I was a child in the Civil Rights era, I’ve always wondered why things did not turn out better for this nation after the Civil War and why the Civil Rights movement was even necessary. I have come to understand that national identities are formed through the choices that individual people make. In this country, the generation after the Civil War failed to take up the torch and “fix” the racial divide, failed to bring African-Americans fully into American society, so that all of us could work together to build the greatest nation this world has ever known. We are still suffering because of that. We had a chance to become a beacon to a world where tribal and ethnic identities often wreak havoc and destruction. But we failed. By placing my characters in the post-Civil War, I show that many Americans had great hope for a better world, and there is still a chance we can overcome that failure.
You wrote the Reverend Adams (a former slave) so vividly that it seemed he might have come straight from the pages of a history book. Where any of your characters drawn from actual historical figures, or were they all products of your imagination?
I’ve based my characters on real people I came across in my historical research. Then I flesh them out with qualities that are appropriate to the story. Reverend Adams is one of my favorites. And the funny thing is that he just showed up one day and asked to be included in my story. That’s writer-speak for I hadn’t planned him, but the idea for his character came as I was writing.
What passage of Scripture do you find give you the most strength during trying times?
My life verse is Psalm 47:4: “He shall choose our inheritance for us.” No matter what happens, God has a plan for my life. He will set my course, and all I need to do is follow His leading. Sometimes that’s easier said than done when things aren’t turning out too well. But then I remember my verse and know that God never makes a mistake.
Can you whet our appetite for “Then Came Hope,” which will release summer ’07?
Here’s the story summary: Delia was born into bondage and battered for 17 years. But in the wake of the Civil War, she joins a ragtag band headed North through a bitter and defeated South. Can handsome Ezra Johns help Delia realize her true value to God? Will he gain the respect his war service deserves?
Is there anything you’d like to add that I might not have touched on, something you’d like readers to know?
I believe God speaks to every person’s heart about His truth. My prayer is that my readers will listen to God rather than to their all-too-human “conscience” or to whatever is popular or expedient in their time or their social group. I pray that they will know Christ and be His representative in their sphere of influence, however large or small that may be. If I have created characters who live by these ideals, perhaps my readers will gain the courage to “go forth and do likewise.”
April W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.