Welcome, everyone, to my Adventures in Writing Blog. I am honored to have with me today Ellen Gable Hrkach, an award-winning historical Catholic fiction writer.
Ellen has published 4 Catholic fiction novels to date:
In Name Only,
and most recently A Subtle Grace
A Subtle Grace is alive with drama. The obstacles are many; the characters, lively. The devil lives in the historical world of the O’Donovan family. The writer knows her genre. This Catholic Fiction novel demonstrates the power of love and faith to forgive and protect. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you, Ellen, for visiting with me.
Ellen: My pleasure.
VML: Ellen, what made you decide to become a writer and how long have you been writing?
Ellen: Many years ago, I began writing in a journal to ease the grieving process after suffering several miscarriages. These journal entries actually served as the basis for my first published article, “Five Little Souls in Heaven,” which was published in the Nazareth Journal in 1995. From there, other articles were published in various Catholic magazines. Around 14 years ago, after researching about my family tree and finding out some unusual aspects about my great-grandmother, my husband suggested that I write a novel based on the parallel true stories of myself and my great-grandmother. I learned how to write a novel in that (four year) period of time. When I finished that book, I knew that I wanted to write more novels.
VML: And write them, you did. It’s amazing that your books have been downloaded over 500,000 times on Kindle since 2010.
Ellen, why did you choose Catholic fiction as your genre?
Ellen: First, I’m Catholic. Fifteen years ago, there were very few Catholic novels. As a novelist, I wanted to write in a genre that I could relate to, that was inspiring and was less competitive than other genres. Most Christian novels are generically Christian; the characters sometimes pray and often seem “too good.” I wanted to write complicated stories and create believable characters with depth from a Catholic point of view.
VML: Fully developed characters are needed for readers to become involved in stories. And of course, it isn’t a story without conflict. Ellen, some writers begin with a situation, some with characters. As a writer of historical Catholic Fiction, how do you begin writing a novel?
Ellen: I usually start with a situation. I outline the basic story and a few simple ideas for characters. This often takes months, even years, given my other duties and responsibilities. Once I have the basic outline complete, I then spend several months researching. This is one of my favorite parts of the process and fairly easy, given modern access to the internet. Next step is to write character studies, and then begin writing the first draft.
VML: Ah! I’m not a pantster either, except for my YA short stories. I believe in the outline for longer work. What some writers forget is that an outline is just a way of keeping you writing. Outlines are merely guidelines and are apt to change slightly as the storyline grows and moves forward. Now character studies are a great idea. I learned about those in one of my earlier writing courses.
The process of writing and re-writing can be a tedious one–especially for full-length novels. How do you know when your novel is ready for the presses?
Ellen: It’s hard to explain. With my own novels, I get to a point where I need to move on to the next project. Once I’ve finished my first presentable draft, I then work with a developmental editor (who assists with plot and characters, as well as sentence structure), then I work with two copy-editors. The “tedious” edits are definitely not my favorite part of the process, but they’re very important because each time a manuscript goes through an editing process, it becomes more polished and helps the story and characters shine more brightly. Four to six proofreaders then read through for typos and other errors missed by myself or the editors.
VML: Lucky you to have such a writing support staff. Writing is not the solitary profession it was once thought to be. And even then, writers discussed details with other writers. Always great advice to have others read the manuscript when you’re finished to see if what the writer thinks is on the page, in fact is.
Do you have any advice to offer writers on how to stay committed to a longer writing project?
Ellen: Perseverance and patience!! These are two virtues that are absolutely essential to the modern writer.
VML: The two “p’s” of writing. I’ll always be a writer, but the patience needed to hear back on my manuscripts is the difficult part for me.
How about you, fellow readers? Which is more difficult for you, in whatever you do; perseverance or patience?
Thank you so much, Ellen, for stopping by my Adventures in Writing blog. You can connect to Ellen Gable Hrkach on the web at www.ellengable.com. Her books are available at http://www.amazon.com/Ellen-Gable/e/B002LFMXOI/.