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Interview With Louise Gouge

Louise Gouge has walked the path of dreams. From her early dreams of being a devoted wife and mother of four to becoming a multi-published author and a college English professor teaching the craft she loves, she calls it “threads of God’s grace woven through time.” Louise talks about her latest release, Love Thine Enemy, along with some insightful treasures about her path to becoming an award-winning author.

Your latest book, Love Thine Enemy, is set in Florida during the Revolutionary War. I understand you found out some very interesting details in your research. What made you pick this location and time period?

ACFW member Kristy Dykes (1951-2008) challenged me to write about our home state of Florida as part of a proposed anthology. My era was to be the Revolutionary War period. When the anthology was not accepted, I went on to develop a full-length novel about this fascinating time. Even though I’ve lived in Florida for almost thirty years, like most people, I assumed the colony always belonged to Spain before the United States acquired it. I had no idea that Florida belonged to England for a twenty-year period that happened to coincide with a rather busy time for some thirteen other British colonies! Nor did I know that many Loyalists to the Crown fled to St. Augustine to escape persecution by our Patriots. Of course, the American Revolution was a world-altering conflict, so that makes it the perfect time and place for a novel series, especially when the hero and heroine are on opposite sides.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?

The most significant event occurred when I began to turn my entire writing career over to God. I have come to realize that it’s important always to seek His will and then go through the doors He opens. This wasn’t always my approach. I was very pushy at the beginning, which led to some big disappointments. Now I see that my job is to be diligent in my craft, creative in my imagination, and disciplined in my writing, and then trust God to bring about the result He wants. Lest I sound hyper-spiritual, I assure you this is a daily struggle.

Louise, you’re a college English professor as well. How do you bring the lessons you’ve learned as a writer to your students?

Although academic writing is different from creative writing, the principles of good grammar and research always apply. I tell my students about my books and how careful I must be in my research. Even though it’s fiction, my story can be ruined for a reader if they discover an error. This causes me to lose credibility. . .and sales. Accuracy in academic writing is every bit as important, if not more so, because students are working toward professional careers in which success depends on their credibility. No one wants a doctor who doesn’t bother to research the latest medical advances or an accountant who doesn’t keep up with income tax laws. And of course writing and speaking with proper grammar demonstrates a person’s education and professionalism. At the beginning of any career, a grammar error on a resume can keep an applicant from gaining that all important job interview.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture?

I received God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ when I was very small. I look to Him daily to be my comfort and guide, and I seek to serve him in all that I do. It is my constant prayer that my stories will bless my readers and lead them to salvation and spiritual growth. My characters always come to a moment of self-discovery and truth about themselves and about the nature of God. My heavenly Father didn’t call me to be a missionary or a public speaker. But He gave me another way to reach out to others with His message of hope. A book can travel farther than I ever could.

What would you describe as your biggest obstacle in writing and how do you overcome it?

Time, as in, not enough of it. In addition to my writing and teaching, I have an online copyediting business. I love my clients and their stories, and I love helping them hone their writing skills and whip their stories into sellable shape. Sometimes it’s a real challenge to keep up with all three jobs, so I have to drive myself pretty hard during the fall and spring semesters. During the summer, I just have writing and copyediting to work on, so it’s a bit of a break.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?

This is tough question, because this journey has been strewn with blessings. As far as writing success is concerned, I am so pleased and grateful to have won the 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Hannah Rose, Book 2 in my Ahab’s Legacy series. I’ve also been blessed by some very nice reader reviews—by people I’m not even related to!—on and One man especially encouraged me because he actually comprehended what I was saying in the entire Ahab trilogy—my one and only venture into literary/intellectual writing. Any moment when my stories move someone’s heart or help them see God in a new way is a “greatest moment.” To me, that’s true success.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Writing provides me with a healthy outlet for my very active imagination. When I was ten years old, I saw Mary Martin play Peter Pan on black-and-white television (giving away my age here). From that moment, my imagination took me places even more exciting than Neverland. I’ve often said I live in my own little world. This is true of many writers. To maintain a healthy mental and spiritual outlook on life, I write. By God’s grace, some of my stories have been published so others can also enjoy my flights of fancy. My stories can come from something as simple as seeing a father and son playing catch football (Once There Was a Way Back Home, Crossway, 1994) or reading an obscure passage in a literary classic (Ahab’s Bride, David C. Cook, 2004). My current release (Love Thine Enemy, Love Inspired Historical, 2009) came from a suggestion made by a fellow writer. The world is full of story possibilities when we just ask “What if. . .?”

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

My tagline “Threads of grace woven through time” refers to the way God has extended grace—unmerited favor—to anyone who will receive it. John 1:12 says “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” No agonizing, no fear, no trying, no good works. Simply reach out and accept that free gift of salvation God offers to every person. The one thing I want my writing to do is reveal this grace of God to my readers. My grad school thesis advisor pointed out that my first two novels tended to lead the reader, but that my thesis novel, Ahab’s Bride, unfolded the story and the message without an attempt to manipulate the reader. This is what I endeavor to do. Unique? I don’t know. But this is at the heart of everything I write.

Finish this question. The thing I want my students to learn the most is…

That God loves them, wants to save them, and has a plan for each of their lives. I try to demonstrate kindness and good humor in the classroom, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. But I don’t shy away from talking about God and my trust in Him. You can do that in college classes, which is why I don’t teach in public schools. I couldn’t stand hiding my faith or pretending that God doesn’t exist.

Any parting words for up-and-coming writers?

Since no two paths to publication are the same, a new writer usually wonders which road will lead to success. Let me suggest that you learn the craft of writing, dig into research, discipline yourself to write for a certain amount of time each day (talking to myself here), attend writers’ conferences, but most of all, seek God’s plan for you. When Jesus was giving Simon Peter his instructions, Peter pointed to John and said, “What about him?” Jesus answered, “Don’t worry about him. You just follow me.” If you are reading this, no doubt you have dreams of becoming a published writer. Don’t try to walk in someone else’s footsteps in your attempts to get there. If another writer is enjoying a great success and you feel the tendrils of envy trying to wind around your heart, cast off those feelings. Say “Good for you. May you sell a million books. May you win countless awards.” Don’t waste time on jealousy, but instead let your heavenly Father guide you where He wants you to go. That’s a far better and more satisfying path than any you will choose for yourself.

Thanks for sharing with us, Louise!

Thank you so much for having me here. I’ve been a member of ACRW/ACFW since 2002, and my membership number is something like 191. Now we’re about 1800 strong. Wow! What a great organization, one that honors God and brings others to Him through excellence in writing. Please stop by my Web site,, and read about my books. If you’ve read and enjoyed them, please tell others about them.

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