Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Day 2 with Author Carla Olson Gade

Welcome back for the second day of our interview with Carla Olson Gade! Carla is a native New Englander and writes from her home in rural Maine. Her debut novel The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter was just released, and she has several other projects in the works for later this year and in 2013.

What is the craziest/most fun/most surprising thing you've done in the name of research for one of your books?
Tromping through knee-deep snow in middle of winter in Maine on the old homestead of my ancestors. I explored the empty colonial house through the windows and the 18th century log garrison house imagining how they fortified themselves from Indian attacks. I felt like I was on hallowed ground. This trip, which included exploring of the region’s other historical places, was extremely valuable on many levels – for me personally, for general colonial research in one of Maine’s earliest settlements for current book projects, and for the novel I hope to write about my ancestors some day.

I saw in various places that you write, design websites, work with women's ministry in your church, enjoy genealogy, and more. How do you balance it all, and do those other activities help your writing in some way?
I’ve enjoyed doing these things for years, but to everything there is a season. Now that my writing has become a career I’ve had to be selective about what I choose to do. The first step was deciding to do activities that had some common ground so I didn’t feel like I was being pulled in so many directions. The genealogy hobby really got me interested in Colonial American history. I have a strong New England heritage of first settlers, and I love writing about this period. I taught courses on Online Genealogy and HTML for adult education and I worked for 4 years for an adult literacy organization. I no longer do that type of work in lieu of writing and now only occasionally take on website design projects that are author or writing related.  I’m happy that I have the ability to create and manage my own presence on the web. I’ve served in ministry for many years leading women’s groups and planning women’s conferences. Interestingly the conferences have given me an opportunity to meet many Christian speakers and writers. Although I love serving that way, my current season of ministry is sharing through my writing and teaching/speaking opportunities of my own. They key to it all has been to yield to the steps that the Lord has set before me and not succumb to the temptation to say “yes” to everything.  

Learning not to say “yes” to everything – that can be a tough lesson to conquer. Other than getting better at streamlining some things, what has been the most fun (or rewarding) thing about having a published novel, so far?
It has been an amazing journey. It thrills me to see how happy my friends and family are to see my dream of publication having come to fruition. A true blessing! I hope those who read the story will be blessed in turn.

Once we become writers, we read with a critical eye. For some authors, grammatical errors in a book are like fingernails on a chalkboard. For others, weak plots cause them to lay a book aside without finishing it. What, if anything, annoys you about some historical fiction? (Without naming names!)
Incorrect historical terminology. As both a reader and a writer I try to be forgiving, as I hope those would be when I am in err, but when descriptions and speech are attributed to the wrong era it disturbs my concentration and sometimes disappoints me. When a character uses a contemporary idiom or too modern pattern of speech it screams at me. Duh. You get it. Sometimes articles of clothing and other items are referred to as they were in a later time period. For instance, a three cornered cocked hat was not called a tricorne until the 19th century. If the story is mid-1700’s I would like to know that it was simply a cocked hat. Authenticating the reader’s experience can really enhance their experience and that is what I try to do.

When researching, I believe that the vantage point should be from the period of your work forward in time, not from the present looking past. I ask questions like what type of language was used and by whom? What were common expressions used during that time? What is the origin of that word? When was it invented? What did they call that then? Much historical fiction is based on truth and writers and editors usually make every effort to enrich the story with these details and I so appreciate it when they do.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book(s)?
I do hope my novels will leave an impression on readers and that they enjoy the adventure and the research that went into it. The spiritual thread that I weave into the story is an important element and I hope that they will be touched by the message within.

Any advice for aspiring novelists?
Writing for publication can be daunting, especially when first learning to apply the “rules” of the craft when writing for your market. Try not to be overwhelmed by it all, they are guidelines after all. Learn something new daily, build upon that knowledge and apply it to your current work. Eventually your writing will be transformed and you will move closer to your goal of publication.

American Christian Fiction Writers is an essential resource where you can learn, grow, and network with peers and mentors.

Here’s something just for fun. With summer right around the corner, our kids are already asking us to pull out the ice cream maker. What would you say Eliana and Yiska's favorite flavors would be, and why?
Raspberry. Definitely raspberry. There is a delicious scene in the story that illuminates why this is the favorite flavor of them both!

Yummy! Raspberry has always been one of my favorites too. Let’s wrap up our time together with a look ahead. What are you working on now that you’d like us to know about?
I’m doing my final edits for my novella “Carving a Future” that is in Colonial Courtships that Barbour Publishing will release in October. My story is about a ship’s figurehead carver who rescues an indentured servant on the Connecticut River in 1752. I’m currently writing Pattern for Romance, book #8 in Abingdon Fiction’s Quilts of Love series. The series launches this fall and my book releases in June 2013. This novel features a whole-cloth wedding quilt and takes place in colonial Boston before the American Revolution.

Thanks so much for joining us, Carla! It’s been a pleasure learning more about you and your books.

Visitors, Carla will be giving away one copy of The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter to someone who comments this week. Here’s the question you can answer to be eligible for our drawing:

If you could visit any historical place, where would it be?

We’re looking forward to your answers! Please remember to leave your name and email with your response (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help avoid spam). The drawing will be held at Friday at 8 a.m. ET.

PS – Carla had to travel out of state due to a death in the family, so might not be able to check in with comments very often. Our condolences go out to her. 


Julia said...


I'm so excited that your book has finally released! I love that cover! Sorry to hear about the death in your family as well. You have a heart for ministry and I'm so pleased to see your books releasing.


Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to visit Colonial Williamsburg, one of my favorite places or pre-Revolutionary Boston.

Angela Holland said...

I would like to visit Colonial Williamsburg.

Thank you,

alh693 at att dot net

Angela Holland said...

I think it would be fun to go to Deadwood or Tombstone.


Sandy35 at aol dot com

Amy R.S. said...

I would really like to visit Colonial Williamsburg. I went there on vacation with my family when I was 14, and didn't get to see it as it was raining so hard. I would like to go back and visit on a nice sunny day.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Lyndee said...

I'm a sucker for old houses/dwellings, so just about any 'house museum' makes my day. It's an intimate way to get to know the people of an era and see what was important to them.


greenduckie13 said...

I'd like to visit the Alamo.
greenduckie13 at gmail dot com

Carla Olson Gade said...

Thanks for stopping by for this interview all! I see a lot of you would love to visit Colonial Williamsburg. We went last summer and it was such a grand time! And I'm very fond of Boston since I lived near there most of my life. So much history!

Ah, the Alamo, Deadwood, Tombstone. I can see the tumbleweeds rolling by now and here the whistling through the breeze.

I have a fondness for house museum's, too, Lyndee.