Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Research and Deliver a Thought Provoking Story: An Interview with April Gardner

How would you describe your books? Informational non-fiction, historical fiction, or fiction?
My novels are inspirational historical romance, and my main series (Creek Country Saga) has a strong Native American theme. I usually pick a little-known setting or event to highlight in my stories, so my series is set during the 1813 Creek War and during the First Seminole War (1817).

What type of research do you do in writing a story with a historical base? Tell me about the process.
Because my stories are deeply historical, the research has to match, so there’s tons of it. My favorite method is to get books from the library.  If a book has a substantial amount of information I need, I’ll buy it from Amazon. I prefer to own books so I can mark them up with notes.

How much do you take “artistic” license do you employ with your research?
As far as artistic license, I prefer to keep the setting and events as close to history as possible, but I don’t mind straying a bit if necessary, then making mention of the deviation in my “author’s notes” at the end. Historical accuracy is very important to me, but the story always comes first.

So far, I haven’t had any complaints from readers about inaccuracy. Not because there isn’t any, I’m sure! But because my settings are so little-known there are very few who would recognize inaccuracies. It makes the writing easier, but in another sense, it increases the pressure because, for the most part, readers are trusting. They trust historical authors to feed them accurate information. If they can’t easily verify it for themselves, that trust increases, upping the pressure on the author to not lead them wrong.

What are some of the more difficult aspects of writing historical novel? 
Period and cultural voice is a difficult aspect of writing historical fiction. The characters’ dialogue (and to a lesser extent narrative) require a specific ring to it or readers don’t buy it. A single modern-sounding word can throw a reader straight out of the story.

Have other novels been started and stopped along the way?
No, I haven’t started any novels that I haven’t stopped. When I set my mind to something, I become a wee bit obsessive. There’s no quitting until it’s done.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
My editor slaps my wrist for my overuse of “then” as a conjunction. I do so love my “thens”!

Yes, we all have our writing crutches! What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Hearing from satisfied readers—women who have come away from my novels having learned something about our history and loved it.

In reviewing your Facebook page, I saw something about a "takeover" day. Can you explain
what that's about?
Sure! It’s new to me too. One of my favorite Facebook groups is called Christian Books—Connecting Readers and Authors. Becky, the woman who runs it, is all about—you guessed it—connecting readers with the authors they love. And with authors, they’ve never heard of. To that end, she does “takeover” days where an author is given two hours of control over the group to have a party of sorts. 

During my slot, I posted every 15 minutes with giveaways and info on my books, but mostly, I posted questions that got readers chatting. It was a complete blast. Here’s the link to the group for any who would like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/connectingreadersandauthors/

Give me an example of how you learned to write past rejection.
I’m an indie author and have been for a while now, so I no longer receive rejections from publishing houses and agents. (It’s the life!) But a rejection I do get is from readers who reject the Christian message in my books. 

I realize this is a normal reaction from unbelievers, but it still makes me sad. Instead of discouraging me, though, it empowers me to write more. If the message of Christ is pinching a few consciences, then it’s working, and I should keep at it.

You publish your books through Amazon Digital Services. What tips could you give someone who wants to indie-publish?
I use Kindle Direct Publishing for my e-books and CreateSpace for my paperbacks. When I started out a couple years ago, I did not consider other options because I knew these were the go-to starting points for indie authors.

Recently, I’ve branched out into Ingram Spark, which is Ingram’s answer to CreateSpace for indie authors. It’s not simple or straightforward (at all!), but books in Ingram Spark have easier access to libraries and brick-and-mortar stores. It’s all-around good to be hooked up with Ingram.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
I wish I’d known that I should purchase my own ISBNs instead of using Amazon’s free ones, and I wish I’d known to get a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) before publishing my paperbacks. 

I didn’t know this for my first three paperbacks, so when I realized I needed them to get into Ingram Spark, I had to go to the trouble of putting out new editions. Since then, I’ve put out an additional four paperbacks that have my ISBNs as well as LCCNs, and they are all in Ingram, which makes me smile!

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
I’ve learned so much in my ten-plus years of writing novels, but lately, God has impressed on me the need for balance. As I said, I easily become obsessed, but God wants us to live balanced lives. So lately, my motto is to strive to be a whole person (wife, mother, sister in Christ, daughter, neighbor), not just a writer.

What other books do you have in the works?
Right now, I’m editing a book I wrote five years ago, preparing it for publication in September. It’s a little detour from my Creek Country Saga. This one, Beautiful in His Sight, is set in 1917 Halifax, Nova Scotia. The setting in the WW1 Halifax Explosion and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

Could you give me a brief synopsis of the story?
Silas Quinn’s spirit died in the icy waters of the Atlantic along with the mighty Titanic. Now a pauper on the home front of the war to end all wars, he is overlooked by society and by God. He struggles through a hardscrabble existence until a defenseless prostitute reawakens his heart and gives him new purpose. Her invisible protector, he follows the Spirit’s prompting until the unthinkable obliterates their world.

Helen Fraser wakes from a devastating explosion to find herself blind and buried alive. Except for the crackle of flame and the cry of a child, the bustling Halifax streets have fallen silent. When all seems lost, a stranger calls her name. Warm and comforting, the voice penetrates the fear binding her in a blackened world and sets her on the path to experiencing unconditional love.

Rising from the scorched rubble, Helen seeks a handhold on God’s grace, while Silas discovers his heart can do more than beat—it can love.

Sounds intriguing especially since I’ve been to the Halifax museum that chronicled that tragic event. I hope my readers will be inspired as well to follow up on the book and your other ones. Here is how you can do that.