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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spotlight on Louise Gouge

Thank you to everyone for your patience while waiting for this postponed spotlight feature. For those who asked, life for me hasn't really settled, but I'm working through it one day at a time. It'll make a great inclusion in one of my books some day. :) If you want to know what happened, read the post right before this one.

Anyway, enough about me. Today is all about our spotlight guest...Louise Gouge. She splashed onto the CBA scene with a riveting novel entitled, Ahab's Bride, which went on to win awards and become highly recommended. Now, she's back with a new book that is sure to have as much impact in today's world as the historical time period in which its written.

Louise M. Gouge is the author of seven novels. She earned her master of liberal studies degree from Rollins College and earned her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Central Florida. Married to David H. Gouge for 41 years, the mother of four grown children, and grandmother of five, Louise has made her home in Central Florida for twenty-seven years. Currently, she teaches writing, literature, and humanities at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee, Florida.

Let's hear more from her, but don't forget to post a comment for your chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of THEN CAME FAITH.

1. You seem to have tackled an issue that was not only key during the Civil War, but one that can be quite applicable today. Where did you get the inspiration behind this particular story?

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.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Juliana and Andre? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I can't really say that Juliana and André came from my own experiences or anyone I know personally. I was not old enough or brave enough to participate in the Civil Right movement, and by the time it came about, I didn't even live in the South. My characters come from studies that I have done about the pre-Civil War attitudes among dedicated abolitionists who risked their lives to end slavery and slave-holders who believed slavery was God's will. Juliana's and André's actions are simply characteristic of the passionate people on both sides of the issue. But any time you have an issue this controversial, you will find complicated people on both sides. These two characters are complex and realistic.

3. What themes exist in Then Came Faith that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

André Beauchamp, a Christian who deeply believes in the southern cause, has fought valiantly in the Confederate Navy. At war's end, he wonders why God abandoned His people. André also has lost personal property, all of his slaves, and most of his family, causing him to question his faith and surrender to bitterness. Then he meets Juliana Harris, a do-gooder Yankee woman, who not only has been a staunch abolitionist, but who also believes God has punished the South for perpetuating the evil institution of slavery. They both fight their mutual attraction, but ultimately cannot resist God’s clear direction.

When I first conceived this story idea, it was pretty clear-cut and simple: the southern cause versus the northern cause, with my hero and heroine exemplifying the extremes of each one. That's what passion is all about.

However, my research brought about one heartbreaking fact: Southerners were so determined that Reconstruction should fail that they "culled out" the leaders among the Negro communities and murdered many of them. Sadly, this kind of ignorance and hatred still exists today, and countless communities, large and small, across the country suffer both from those overt actions and the reactionary response from those whose ancestors were persecuted.

4. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

The part I enjoyed most was the irresistible attraction that Juliana and André felt. As the old saying goes, "Something's gotta give" when two such opposites are attracted to each other. As for the most difficult part, I would have to give away some important plot points to answer that!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is entitled Then Came Hope, Book Two in my post-Civil War series. It will be published in the early spring 2007. In keeping with my series theme of men returning from the war, Then Came Hope tells the story of Ezra Johns, a corporal in the 54th Massachusetts Negro Regiment, and Delia Young, a South Carolina slave girl who finally finds the courage to escape her bonds just days before the war ends. When these two travelers join a band of former slaves, they meet many obstacles as they head North to find better lives.

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Thank you, Louise, for joining us in the spotlight. Hope sales for this book soar!


Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like an awesome book! I have never had the privelege or opportunity to read any of Louie Gouge's work. I would love to win this one, and if I don't, well I'll just have to add Louise to my growing list of authors!!

Thanks Amber for the great interview. I enjoy learning about authors and their books!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great interview! This post Civil War Series sounds awesome!

Jennifer Y. said...

Great interview! This sounds like a good series!