I met Katie Ganshert through an online writer’s support group with WordServe Literary Agency. We hit it off right away, and I have thoroughly enjoyed having her share this journey with me as our debut novels both hit shelves this spring.
Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers from Winter, will release May 8th, but YOU CAN GET A FREE COPY BEFORE IT EVEN HITS SHELVES (see below for details). I had the privilege of getting an advanced copy of the book and thought many of you who enjoy inspirational reads might enjoy Katie’s work as well. Her book is a work of Christian fiction and is published by WaterBrook Press.
JC: Let’s start by discussing your journey as a debut novelist. Tell us a bit about how this story first came to be and share a quick glimpse of your experience in finding an agent and a publisher.
KG: When I was up nursing my son in the wee hours of the morning, the voice of a twelve year old girl came into my head and refused to leave. So I sat down at the computer and I wrote this prologue. I had no story to go with it. At the same time, I’d been toying with the idea of telling a story that explored the bonds of friendship. So I decided to squish the ideas together and Wildflowers from Winter was born.
This was the book that landed me an agent and a publisher. Before Wildflowers, I’d written two other novels. When I wrote this one, I knew it was different. I knew it was better. So I signed up for the ACFW conference in 2009 and pitched it to my dream agent, Rachelle Gardner, and the senior editor at Waterbrook/Multnomah. Two months later, Rachelle called to offer me representation. A year after that, my book made it through pub board and Waterbrook/Multnomah offered me a two book deal.
JC: You begin the book with a prologue written in first-person narrative, but then you switch to third person. Throughout the novel, first-person segments are peppered in, bringing the reader back and forth across time and space. How did you decide to use this unique technique and did you find it challenging? Are there other books you used as models as you experimented with this method?
KG: I have a brilliant editor, Shannon Marchese. The original version had a first person prologue and the rest of the story was told in third person. Shannon thought the prologue felt orphaned. So she encouraged me to write six or seven more first person scenes and intersperse them throughout the novel. I loved her suggestion. And I loved writing these scenes. The end result was a novel with a lot more depth and texture than the original version.
JC: Your main character, while likeable, is a bit stubborn, and she tends to make things harder on herself than they need to be (like many of us). She has a difficult relationship with her mother, in particular. I’m fascinated by mother-daughter relationships and am convinced they are one of the most important of all human relationships. What led you to write about this mother-daughter duo, and what did you learn from examining the relationship from Bethany’s point of view.
KG: I’m also fascinated with mother-daughter relationships (one of the many, many reasons why I was so captivated with your story, Julie!).
Bethany’s ashamed of her mother. She sees her mom as weak. Yet as the author, I knew things about Ruth that Bethany didn’t. It made me realize how easy it is to judge others, especially when that other person is our mom. It’s so easy to be critical of our parents. We forget that they had lives before we were born, with goals and dreams and disappointments and failures.
JC: Readers often assume a novel is based on real events in the author’s life. What, if anything, in this book was drawn from your real life?
KG: The back story of Robin and Bethany’s friendship is inspired by real life events. I had a best friend growing up and like Bethany and Robin, we lost touch in college. Our lives went separate ways. I remember wondering if anything could bring us back together again. It’s a question that helped me with the plot of Wildflowers. So that aspect of the novel is definitely entrenched in real-life experience.
JC: What are you working on for the future and when can fans expect more of your work?
KG: Right now, I’m working on revisions for book 2, Wishing on Willows, which releases March 19, 2013. This is Robin’s story. Readers will get to see a lot of familiar places and familiar faces.
JC: Finally, what advice do you have for folks who are interested in writing a novel?
KG: Ecclesiastes 7:8 comes to mind: Finishing is better than starting…
There are so many people out there who want to write a novel, but very few follow through and finish. So my advice would be to find an idea you’re passionate about. A story you would love to read.
Then sit down and make yourself write every day until it’s finished. When it’s done, read some craft books and start editing.
If you want to be published, find another story that stirs in your heart and start the process over. Read a lot. Write a lot. And persevere.
JC: Thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts with us. I’m sure everyone will enjoy getting to know you as much as I have.
- Leave a reply to let Katie know you want to win a free copy of Wildflowers from Winter.
- One winner will be randomly selected Friday, April 20.
Learn more about Katie and her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, by following her blog: www.katieganshert.com/blog