1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?
I began writing as a child. I always had a diary so I'd write my personal joys and sorrows in that. I also loved to write poetry, songs, short stories, and scripts, and I read constantly. In college, I majored in English Literature and that's where I really found a passion for writing and marveled at the power of words. I'm constantly learning from other authors, and striving to perfect my own style.
2. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?
I don't think I could have been anything else. I've kept on writing throughout my life, and I've had various jobs, from waitressing to sales to marketing. But at home, on my own time, I wrote. I can't imagine not writing, even with its ups and downs. I've taken breaks from it, even considered quitting, but I've found that I need to write. I'm confident now too that writing is God's gift to me. And I have so many stories to tell.
3. With one novel published and a collection of short stories in the works, what do you do outside of your writing?
Well, besides fiction writing, I work from home as a contributing blogger for Project Inspired, a Christian website for teen girls. I also homeschool, and work every day to be a better follower of Christ, wife, mother, friend, housekeeper, and couponer. I also grow a pretty serious vegetable garden in the summer, love Kung Fu, family trips, and so many other things that I just don't have time to do regularly.
4. What advice do you wish an artist had passed on to you early in your career, which you only learned through experience?
I wish someone had told me to get serious about writing as a career path as soon as possible and to keep at it, even if it meant beginning at a low level position in a publishing company. I always kept my writing in the background and I sometimes wonder if I wasted too much time in jobs that could never lead me to my dream.
5. What does your writing process look like? Takes us through the steps from idea to publishing?
I purchase a separate notebook for each novel I write, and jot down my ideas into that. It's rare that I'll know the specifics of the whole story, so I write what I do know, such as a basic layout, thoughts about the story, scenes, characters, and dialogue. I organize this information and add to it whenever it comes to mind. Then I write a chapter breakdown, type it up, and turn it into a synopsis -and always with the knowledge that much of it will likely change as the story progresses. I go from one chapter to the next, writing the story as it comes to me, and if I have to skip a chapter or leave sections out, I will. I'm not concerned if the writing itself is imperfect. My goal is to get the story onto paper. I allow the story to guide me. Then it's back to the beginning for a revision. I put everything I have into that draft, fill in the gaps, enhance scenes, characters, settings, and words, and I go from loving it to being sick of it. And so I leave it, sometimes for months, until it's matured in my mind and I'm curious to see if I can love it again. When I'm ready to read it with a fresh, excited, and creative attitude, I go through the chapters again, adding to it, editing, rewriting, and if it's still not ready, I'll leave it again. This will go on until I'm satisfied. Then I'll edit, have various people read it, and edit again until it's ready to publish. During the maturation process of one manuscript, I'm working on another. There's no timeframe for my novels, or specific rules, and some stories come easier than others. But when I sit down to write, I do pray that God blesses my words so that I glorify Him in everything that I write.
6. Do you use a playlist when writing? Are certain books written while predominantly listing to the same music?
No. I love music but I can't listen to it and write. I can watch the news and write casually, but when I'm writing a crucial scene or editing, I need silence. With three young children in my house, that means writing late at night. So I usually don't get to bed until after midnight on a regular basis.
7. What current projects are you working on or are in the back burner in some stage of development?
I always have a number of books going at the same time. I'm currently finishing the first of a Kung Fu Faith series titled Freeing Tanner Rose. I hope to have it published before the end of this year. I'm really excited about it and am anxious to get it done, but I can't rush it. I want it to be perfect and there's no going back once it's published. I have the other three books in the series in various stages of production. And I've got two other stories underway, one as a synopsis and the other in a notebook.
8. The novel The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is an amazing read. How did you come up with the story line and dray these diverse people into a family?
Thank you. I really appreciate those kind words. I'm a strong believer of overcoming adversity and using it and God's strength to become a stronger, healthier person. In fact, Philippians 4:12-13 is the heart of this story. My desire was to write a thought provoking novel that inspires tweens, teens, and young adults. The idea itself began with Benedict. I wondered what it would be like to take a young boy, who'd been abused, neglected, and shuffled around, who was now scared and highly cynical, and place him into a loving Christian home. The Sunshine Ranch is an instant family environment. It's a dream for him, but one he's reluctant to accept for fear of having to leave. I wanted diverse characters, each with their own anxieties, but after creating names and basic character descriptions, I allowed them to introduce themselves to me. Each and every one of them made their introductions naturally and their personalities revealed themselves and became more real to me as the story progressed. I didn't really know them until I wrote and rewrote and edited and revised and the story was complete.
9. One of the greatest strengths of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is the characters. The characters you create, are they reflections of people you know, composites of different people you know or entirely your creations?
They're all my creations, but I do instill some behaviors in each character that were mine as a child, or from childhood friends, and even from my own children. I'm also an avid people watcher and love bringing characters to life with physical mannerisms that I've witnessed when people watching.
10. I once heard Madeleine L'Engle state that her characters were real to her and almost an extended part of her family, she said once that at the dinner table she sat up and stated "Meg just finished her PhD." Are your characters real to you, do you ever get glimpses of what they are up to now, or once you finish a book is that it?
I see them within the scope of the story, or in a time in their life that I had to imagine in order to write the story. In The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, I know the characters from children to adults, but I don't know what happens to them after the last scene. Each character is important to me. They're mine. But I leave them in the novel. They're not a part of my everyday life.
11. If you could only recommend 10 books to a reader looking to be a well-rounded and whole person what books would you suggest?
I would offer up a variety of genres. Narrowing it down to 10, I'm pretty sure I'm going to forget some great books, but here goes- To begin with, and I hate to be cliché, but I have to suggest the Bible, beginning with the Gospels, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, The Great Divorce, and Mere Christianity, Milton's Paradise Lost, J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Sr. Helen Prejean's Dead Man Walking, Henry James' The Beast in the Jungle, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
12. One of your books is available in electronic formats but with that comes bootleg distribution. What are your impressions of ebooks and the distribution of them through torrents and other illegal means?
I'm still undecided about my thoughts on eBooks. Part of me believes that in this era an author has to have their books in eBook format because so many readers use electronic devices. But the idea that it leaves the door open for people to steal an authors' livelihood, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I think it's very unfortunate that people will willingly steal books this way, just as they steal songs. If I find that it becomes a problem, I may reconsider the eBook route.
13. Some authors monitor torrent sites and have their publishers contact them to remove their content. Do you do so or have someone do so for you?
I don't make a habit of monitoring sites, but if I find that it's a problem, I may have to.
14. What are your favorite books to read with your children?
Their favorites include bible stories, The Berenstain Bears series, and Dr. Seus. They're still young.
15. Who were some of your favorite authors in your teen years who helped shape you?
I loved reading as a child and read a variety of genres, but the ones that had the most effect on me, as a person and a writer, were C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Kenneth Grahame, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Brontë sisters.
16. What are some of your favorite books and authors now?
I don't read as much now as I used to. I'm trying to be better about reading the Gospels at night. And when I get a chance, I confess, I resort back to fictional classics, mainly because they inspire me as a writer. Tolkien, Chesterton, Lewis, and James are among my favorites. I should really branch out, shouldn't I?
17. I once had a university professor state that the true goal of a university education should be to teach one to learn how to think. What would you state should be the goal of higher education and why?
Yes, I agree with that. The objective of higher education is to provide facts, offer opposing views, and teach students how to take that information and come up with their own observations. Too many professors are intent on imposing their own ideas on students.
18. Completely off topic but what TV shows or movies do you enjoy?
I don't watch shows. I usually have the news on in the evenings. I enjoy watching movies, but we wait until movies are on DVD before seeing them. Comedies and dramas are my favorites. To give you an idea of my range, I'm really looking forward to watching, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, October Baby, and For Greater Glory.
19. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 10 books to read again and again, what books would you want with you?
I would need a mix of genres to satisfy my many moods, and they would likely include many of the books I've already mentioned. The Bible, Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, James' The Beast in the Jungle, Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, Adams' Watership Down, Gaouette's The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch (really!), and of course SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John Lofty Wiseman!
20. What advice would you give to young aspiring authors and artists particularly those looking to have their art reflect their faith?
I would urge them to work on both every day. Remember that it won't be easy, but if you have faith, passion, and persistence, then you'll make it. Always turn to Him when you feel discouraged, find strength in Him and praise Him constantly, in good times and in bad. Remember too that success won't happen on your time. God has His plan, so focus on Him and your writing, glorify Him in your work, and He will lead you to success.
T.M. Gaouette is a contributing blogger for ProjectInspired.com and is also working on publishing her next novel for young adults, "Freeing Tanner Rose." So check it out.
Books by T.M. Gaouette:
The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch
Faith & Kung Fu Series:
Faith & Kung Fu Series:
Author Profile and interview with T.M. Gaouette