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Interview With Louise Gouge

Meet Louise Gouge
Interview by Sandra Moore

1) Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

I’ll be 60 this October (I’m a WWII baby), have been married to David for 39 years, and have four children and three grandchildren. I’ve written six and a half books, plus a big file of story synopses, which may or may not ever be completed. Three of my books have been published and two are under contract. In addition to writing, which is my primary occupation, I also teach freshman English in a community college.

2) How did you become interested in writing?

Because of my vivid imagination, stories have always been a big part of my life. I was an amateur singer, actress, and writer from my early days. (Singing and acting are both forms of storytelling. I began to write seriously about twenty years ago.

3) What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

Each of my three siblings earned a Ph.D. and became a college professor. I dropped out of college as a young person, and my life as a homemaker, while wonderful, limited my life experiences. I returned to college and eventually earned my master’s degree. Despite attending a secular university and graduate school, I met the challenge of broadening my worldview without damaging my Christian views. While I don’t believe advanced degrees are necessary for us to become good writers, I do have much more confidence in my work today compared to my early efforts because of the writing techniques and research skills I have learned.

4) What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

When my agent, Les Stobbe, persuaded Jeff Dunn to publish Ahab’s Bride, I knew God had opened an important door for me. Then when I saw that my novel was Cook/RiverOak’s featured book at CBA in the summer of 2003, I was ecstatic.

5) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

I write because my mind has always overflowed with stories since my early childhood. After years of guilt over living in an imaginary world, I discovered it was not a sin after all. I just needed to be in control of my stories rather than let them control me. I believe God gives me my stories, but that does not make them the word of God. It’s my responsibility to put the words on the page, but always seek His wisdom as I do so.

6) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

My stories are framed in my mind before I touch the keyboard. Next, I write a synopsis, then research and fill in the details simultaneously. Even with this master plan, which rarely changes, I do have interesting characters and events jump out and surprise me.

7) What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

First, a young woman in prison wrote to say my first novel changed her life and she knew she could make it through life after she was released because she learned to trust in God. Then, one of our very successful ACRW members told me she became a writer after reading my first novel because it had inspired her.

8) Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

Once, when my children were very small, someone asked if I had a favorite child among the four. I said, “Yes, the one sitting on my lap at any given moment.” Likewise, my favorite character is the one I’m working on right now.

9) How do you deal with publisher rejections?

I look to the Lord and ask, “What now?” By giving me a wonderful agent, the Lord has helped me learn that the rejection is not about me or my ability as a writer but about that particular publisher’s goals, which my story does not suit. Nevertheless, I need to keep learning and keep trying to improve.

10) If you could give a beginner one piece of advice what would it be?

Try to step back from your writing a little bit. While we love our stories and our characters, we also must be objective if we are to succeed. Many fine stories may never reach publication because of hurt feelings over rejection or refusal to work on grammar skills and writing techniques. This is a business. Publishers want the most polished work you can give them. If we are truly called by God to be writers, it’s our responsibility to be the best writers we can be.


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