This week, I have one of the most adorable authors I’ve ever met on my blog–Katie Ganshert. Her new book releases today! In honor of its release, Katie is doing a giveaway. So leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win. We have to have at least ten people to comment.
We’re going to learn a little bit about her and her book, so grab a cup of coffee–or sweet tea, if you’re melting in the heat–and enjoy!
Katie, introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m a slightly-frazzled, ever-inquisitive Midwest gal who loves Jesus, my family, and romance. I’ve been married to my hubs for almost eight years, our son is three and a half, and we’re in the process of adopting a second child from the Congo. I’m addicted to chocolate and Diet Coke. I try to work out, but don’t always get around to it. I could talk books all day long and am often spotted around town—pushing a stroller, walking my dog, and reading….all at the same time.
I’m right there with you when it comes to the exercise thing. I always say I’m going to ride my bike, but I never do.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I was definitely an avid reader. In elementary school, I was a big fan of R.L. Stine, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. In junior high I went through this Mary Higgins Clark phase. But my all time favorite read as a kid was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It’s such a magical book.
What is your favorite genre to read now?
Women’s fiction with lots or romance, or romance with women’s fiction elements.
As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
It was the one career choice that remained constant. I wanted to be a zoologist, a cartoonist for Disney, a lawyer, a photographer, a journalist, a marine biologist (thanks to shark week on the Discovery Channel). But in the midst of all that, I always wanted to write stories.
When did you first begin writing, and why do you write still?
I started writing as soon as I knew how to spell. My mom has crates of spiral bound notebooks in her basement. All filled with half finished stories I wrote in elementary school. In high school, I stopped writing stories. I kept a journal instead. I didn’t take up storytelling again until I went to Nairobi, Kenya for three weeks for HIV/AIDS outreach and came home with a story bursting inside of me.
Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
It’s been a long journey, that’s for sure! I pitched this story to my editor at the ACFW conference in September, 2009. At that point, I didn’t even have an agent. In November, Rachelle Gardner called to offer me representation and this editor was still interested in my stuff. I found out in April of 2010 that my story would go to pub board. And it did. It just took seven months. The wait was worth it though! When Rachelle called me and said, “This is the call you’ve been waiting for” I almost peed my pants.
I am still waiting for an agent to call me. I suppose I would have the same reaction you had!
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
Even though I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, I didn’t write my first novel until 2005. I sold my first book in 2010. So five years. However, I didn’t seriously pursue publication until my son was born in 2008.
How many books do you have published?
This will be my first, followed by Wishing on Willows in March, 2013. After that, we’ll see. I hope the fun continues! Wildflowers from Winter is a coming-home love story set in small town Iowa about the bonds of friendship and God’s ability to bring beauty from the barren seasons in our lives.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
Sleep deprivation. 🙂 Seriously. I was up late, nursing my son, when the voice of this 12 year old girl came into my head. I couldn’t get her out. So I sat down and wrote the prologue with no story to go with it. At the same time, I’d been contemplating telling a story that explored the bonds of friendship. So I just squished the two stories together and voila, Wildflowers was born.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
All kinds of places. From songs. From the Bible. From letting my mind wander while I go on walks. From real life stories. From church. While most people are soaking up the sermon, figuring out how to apply the message to their life, I’m thinking, “That would be the perfect spiritual arc for my character!”
I do the same thing!!!!
How do you choose names for your characters?
Sometimes they just sort of come with the character. That happened with Bethany in Wildflowers. She was never anything else. The character popped into my head, and her name came with. But sometimes, it’s more of a struggle. In which case, I break out the baby name book. Recently I ran a contest on my Facebook Author Page where readers voted for the name of my hero in Wishing on Willows. That was fun.
Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?
I also try to start with a seed of truth when creating my characters, or at least when exploring their emotions. In Wildflowers, Bethany starts off as very confused and angry toward God. Even though I’ve never experienced the things she has experienced, there have been times in my life when I’ve been angry with God, and definitely times I’ve been confused about Him. So I start there and then I build.
I like that! How do you get to know your characters?
I tie them up in a chair and force them to tell me everything they know. Okay, maybe not quite. But sometimes, I do feel like I interrogate my characters. That usually leads to me beating my heat against a brick wall. So I often go for a walk or a run or just sit quietly and wait for them to speak to me.
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
There’s an amusing duck conversation that occurs between my hero and heroine that was inspired by a real life conversation between my husband and I. While driving home, we saw a lost-looking duck on the side of the road, ankle-deep (do ducks have ankles?) in a puddle of water.
In three words describe your style of writing.
I’m horrible at this. So can I cheat and steal what other people are saying? Early readers of Wildflowers are saying my writing style is lyrical, honest, and fresh. I’ll take it!
What are you favorite themes to write about?
Redemption. Oh, how I love redemption. And life from death, beauty from pain. I love that we worship a God who is in the business of using that which is broken to create something that is breathtaking and beautiful.
I love your heart!
Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer?
I’m most definitely a plotter. Through and through. Trying to pants my way through a novel gives me ulcers and panic attacks. I unleash my creativity while brainstorming. I see where my characters take me. The rough draft is just a plowing through of the vision created during the brainstorming phase.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
Lately, I’ve taken to writing outside with a notebook. I know, this is crazy! Especially since I never thought I could write long hand. But when the creativity is lacking or the internet is distracting, a notebook is just the jumpstart I need. I try to write early in the morning, and then some more when my son goes to preschool. Right now I’m on a deadline, so my husband has been entertaining our son in the evenings so I can get some extra writing time in.
Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I have a toddler at home, so yep. There is a balance. I used to work full time, but thankfully I was able to stay home this year. I thought I’d have all this glorious time to write, but really, I don’t. I have glorious time to be a mother, but not so much write.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Hugely. My faith inspires my writing. God is my ultimate source of inspiration.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Lately, I’ve been meditating on a lot of old testament scripture and I’ve been so encouraged by how much God longs to dwell with His people. From the very beginning. Exodus 25:8 says: Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. How cool is it that the new covenant has made us into God’s dwelling place?
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
Saying yes to adoption. We are in the process of adopting from the Congo. We know we have a long journey ahead of us.
Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
My favorite time to spend with God is in the morning, when I feel His mercies the strongest. I eat chocolate after every meal…well, except breakfast. I never know when my husband will get home from work, since he doesn’t have a set schedule, but it’s always a treat to see his car pull into the drive in the early afternoon.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Teaching. I was a 5th grade teacher for four years and really loved it. But I love writing more and I couldn’t do both without neglecting what’s most important—my family.
Have you won any awards with your writing?
Nope. It’s definitely a dream-big goal, though!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Persevere. That is the common denominator when it comes to published authors. Not talent. Not passion. Not luck or favorable circumstances. It’s perseverance. The act of continuing despite rejections and waiting and uncertainty. Published writers are those who never gave up. So persevere, and don’t compare your journey with anybody else’s. They are wholly unique and not meant to be compared.
What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
In 6th grade, my best friend and I rode this hideous bike around town together. It had a rack on the back, so one of us would ride and the other would sit on a pillow on the rack. I owned the bike, so I would have to ride the thing, with a pillow clutched under my arm, to my friend’s house. One day, as I was cutting through the elementary school playground, I came upon a group of people. I was mortified to be spotted riding this ridiculous bike with a pillow under my arm, so I rode forward and looked straight down. Then crashed into an entire mass of bikes parked right in front of me.
What was your greatest fear as a child and have you written something like that into your book(s)?
I had a recurring nightmare in which a giant bear came out of our storage room and chased my entire family up the stairs. I was the last one and my brother closed the door. He trapped me with the bear. Isn’t that awful? He’s a great big brother too, so I’m not entirely sure where that dream came from.
Now here is a little glance into Katie’s book:
Wildflowers from Winter
A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.
Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.
For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she’s not even sure exists?
To read the first chapter for free, click here.
Your story sounds amazing! Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?