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Interview with Grace Hitchcock

Good things come to those who wait.

It's been almost four years since Grace Hitchcock envisioned getting her first full-length novel published, right at the time she landed her "dream agent" Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She wowed Tamela with a manuscript for an American Victorian novel, and even though Tamela loved it, and the manuscript garnered a lot of interest from publishers, that book did not promptly find a home like Grace had hoped.

So, while waiting, Grace wrote another novel, that she completed in December 2015, which was five months after the search began for a home for Novel One. And then … she waited some more, and completed Novel Three in August 2016.

Did her dream of getting a full-length novel published happen after that? No. What happened was more waiting, and more writing, and completing a fourth manuscript in July 2017.

However, during all this waiting time, Grace was not bereft of any happy news. At one point, Grace sent Barbour Publishing a manuscript, and although they were interested, the story didn't fit their needs. They wondered though if Grace would be interested in writing for one of their collections.

"When Tamela presented me with an opportunity to create a collection idea," Grace said, "and pitch to Barbour Publishing, a publisher I have long admired and have read countless stories from, I was thrilled."

Grace said when she sent a proposal for a novella, "the editor loved it." Although it wasn't the fulfillment of the dream of having a full-length novel published, it was still a dream come true, when that novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, was released as part of The Second Chance Brides Collection in August 2017.

Barbour really liked that novella, so they asked Grace to write another one for a different collection—while Grace was still waiting for a publishing house to pick up any of the four full-length books she'd written. The second novella, Miss Beaumont's Companion, one of the stories in The Southern Belle Brides Collection, came out in August 2018. Grace struck novella gold, as Barbour then asked for yet another novella, and so The Bridal Shop, which will be part of the Thimbles and Thread Collection, will release this fall.

So now, it's March 2019, and it's been four years since Grace desired to have a debut novel she could claim to her name. Guess what? The waiting game is finally over. On March 1, Grace earned the privilege of authoring the first book published in a brand-new series by Barbour Publishing. Grace's debut full-length novel, The White City, is Book 1 in True Colors, a series of Christian historical romantic suspense novels that are based on true stories of American crimes.

Which of the four American Victorian manuscripts that Grace wrote became The White City? None. She is still waiting for each of those four to be picked up by a publisher. But that's okay, because it was worth it these last four years, as Grace was able to get her "published author experience" in with writing the novellas, and experience working with the publishing house, who obviously was impressed with Grace enough to accept her proposal and put her book out there as the first one in this new series.

"Barbour came up with the idea for the series," Grace said. "Their unique element of true crime caught my interest, so I sent in a proposal reflecting the editor's request, and to my delight, it sold!"

This new type of series is unique, and there has been quite a bit of buzz about it, including a recent interview with Barbour's senior editor Rebecca Germany in Publishers Weekly. That interview stated that Barbour will place ads across social media, and that the initial print run for The White City is 10,000 copies. Barbour has also created a website solely to tout the new series and its authors:

The series is set to have at least six books in it, covering true crimes such as murder, kidnapping, and grave robbing. Other than Book 1, Grace has also contracted to write Book 4, The Gray Chamber, which will cover journalist Nellie Bly's undercover investigation of the horrors committed at The Woman's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island.

Did part of Grace's interest in writing for this series come about because she's been a long-time true crime buff? Why, sure.

"I've always loved a good historical romantic suspense novel, but it was even better if the storyline was inspired by true crime along the way! The Witch of Blackbird Pond is still one of my favorites from childhood, and I read it every year."

Historical fiction authors are known for the amount of research they often have to perform, and this holds true for Grace. Some of her research included: reading a giant non-fiction work on serial killer H.H. Holmes; reading different newspapers of the time; researching the police force during the Victorian era, including watching a few period pieces with detectives; and reading non-fiction works on the Chicago World's Fair.

Another helpful research tool was an "amaaaazing book" that Sarah Sundin told Grace about at the 2018 ACFW Conference after Sarah's Historical Fiction Panel. The book? The Montgomery Ward Catalogue of 1895. Grace said if you want to know the price of a button or writing desk or harness, simply check the catalogue.

"My husband laughed at how excited I was over this little gem, but I was too excited to even care. Ha! It really is a historical writer's dream resource."

Not only are historical fiction authors known for the amount of research they do, but for the time it takes some of them to do it. Not so for Grace! The White City took her under just five months to research, write, and turn in for her deadline, and The Gray Chamber will be about the same.

"I am so thankful for my wonderful editors at Barbour who really helped me weed out those weasel words and made me rethink phrases and plot points. I could not do this without them!"

Speaking of publishers, Grace never entertained the thought of being an Indie author. She knew ever since she was a teenager that she wanted to be traditionally published because she dreamed of writing for the same publishing houses she grew up reading.

"My mama has long since been a historical fiction reader and passed her passion for reading on to me as a young girl. After exhausting the historical fiction for my age, I moved on to the adult section where I would scan spines of books in the library to find the names of the Christian publishing houses to make sure they were 'clean' for me to read as a young girl. As you can guess, Barbour was on my approved list."

Some writers wonder not only about being traditionally published or not, but also about getting an agent or going solo. Grace definitely always wanted an agent, and while some writers have to query multiple agents before obtaining one, Grace only had to query one.

"After receiving edits at a writers' conference, I sent out my finished novel in May 2015 to my dream agent Tamela, and she signed me in July 2015. Tamela is a perfect fit for me. After reading her posts and seeing that she has written so many of the kinds of stories that I love, I knew that we were kindred spirits."

That finished novel was the aforementioned "Book One" of her American Victorian manuscripts. Grace decided this would be the type of novel and time period in which she would write all her future stories, after she studied the market and found an era and storyline she felt hadn't been "overdone." She also decided on this period because she "loves" the Victorian era.

"It was such an exciting time for women as they gained more independence in what they were permitted to do. Also, it was a time of new inventions, and of course, the beautiful gowns always were a draw for me as a reader and writer."

For her debut novel, does Grace have a "takeaway" she wants to get across? What about her other books? Will she always have a certain theme or subject she wants readers to zone in on, or will she want mostly to just "tell a really good story"?

"I think for me, the two are equally important. For The White City, I wanted to convey the message from Isaiah 43:2 that no matter what trials you may be facing, with Christ you are never alone. For The Gray Chamber, I will convey another theme, but don’t want to give away anything yet! For my writing, I will always have an underlying theme/message no matter how subtle. For me, I want my writing to always leave my readers with a satisfying love story while pointing toward Christ."

This is one reason why Grace chose to write inspirational fiction. "I see writing Christian fiction as my way of spreading the light of God's Word." One way she does that is through the use of favorite Bible verses.

"Every year, I find a different verse that I hold close to my heart, and whatever story I am writing currently, I usually give that verse to my heroine and weave it into her story."

Why write historical fiction over other genres?

"I've always gravitated toward historical fiction. I can name on one hand the amount of contemporary I've read, so historical fiction felt like the most natural fit."

Often people wish they could have lived in a different time period. If Grace had lived in the American Victorian era, what would she have liked best and least about it?

"I love the style of the times, but I'd hate wearing corsets. Ha ha! But I imagine I'd love going to balls and dancing long into the night with my prince charming, my husband, Dakota."

Perhaps Grace will write that romantic dancing scene in one of her upcoming novels. When asked what are her future writing plans after her third novella comes out this July, and her second true crime novel releases next January, she stayed a little secretive. She said she always has plans in the works, but she can't mention anything specific yet.

It seems only fitting that readers then, will have to do just as Grace has done—be patient. After all, good things come to those who wait.


Melinda Freeland wrote her first "novel" at age 8 about Mr. & Mrs. Texas Toast, and their struggle to get off the plate before someone ate them. Today, Melinda writes fiction you can relate to—about humans—and their real struggles, not only in relationships, but also with understanding and trusting God. Love, Texas – Population 2 is her debut Christian contemporary romance novel. It was inspired by Melinda's reunion with her first love, her life as a small-town reporter, and her faith journey. Melinda lives in Texas with her handsome husband, two great kids, and her lovable Pug. She'd love to connect with readers at and on social media @authormelindafreeland and @melindafreeland.

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