Grace, tell us about yourself, what you are working on, and where you see your project(s) heading.
I write all types of fiction. I’ve won awards from Southeastern Writers Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and Charlotte Writer’s Club. I’ve published a number of short stories in various publications. My first published book is Molasses Making Time (Dec. 2004). The sequel to Molasses, Great Grandpa’s Hidden Treasure was published in 2006. The third book, A Call for Courage was released in June 2009. I have completed the fourth and final book in the series, A Second Chance. My latest book is a book of twenty-three short stories, My Apologies, Mr. Poe, and Other Stories that Chill the Soul. I am currently working on a mystery/romance, which I hope to eventually publish.
When you were growing up, what writers influenced you most?
I began my writing career by becoming a reader. My mother and father were avid readers and by the time I was in fourth grade I’d read practically all the books in the school library. I read all the Nancy Drew books, the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins and books by Gene Stranton Porter (A Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles). I read books by Grace Livingston Hill and many others. Now my favorite books are thrillers and some of my favorite authors are James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Sidney Sheldon, Richard North Patterson and Mary Higgins Clark.
Would you take us through a typical writing day for you?
I don’t keep a set schedule, but I prefer to write in the mornings or early afternoons. I don’t listen to music. I like quiet and no interruptions. I have my computer corner with a large desk and hutch, my computer, monitor, printer and dictionary and thesaurus nearby. Above I have certificates of contests I’ve won, framed and displayed for inspiration.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you deal with it?
I wrote a lot in the 1980’s, and suddenly, writing wasn’t fun anymore and I stopped having ideas on what to write. Since writing was more of a hobby then, I just quit. I began doing other creative things—making porcelain dolls (I have a doll room), doing ceramics, and painting in oil. I enjoyed these pursuits for awhile then wanted to get back to my writing. It was then that I began publishing.
You are an avid attendee at your local writer’s groups. Why do you attend a writing group, and what do you think about writer’s groups in general and about the specific ones you belong to?
I attend writers’ groups for the feedback I get. There are so many mistakes that you tend to overlook. I want a group that will tell me honestly what they think of my writing and not just compliment me. The groups I belong to do this. After a group meeting, I make corrections and follow suggestions I agree with or that have been given by several writers. Writers’ groups can be bad if they just take up time and offer no suggestions for improvement.
Without giving too much away, what can readers expect to see in this series? (The Aaron Gilbert Fowler series.)
In the first book, Molasses Making Time, Aaron is eleven years old and has a great relationship with his pa. He learns that life can be painful. In Great Grandpa’s Hidden Treasure, Aaron searches for the treasure that his great grandpa hid during the Civil War in order to pay off the mortgage on the farm. In the third book, A Call for Courage, Aaron is nineteen and he volunteers for the Navy after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. In the final book of the series, A Second Chance, Aaron suffers another loss, finds happiness, and enters a contented old age. This book is complete and is undergoing editing before it is sent to the publisher.
Your first book in the Aaron Fowler series ends with an engagement, but it’s not a ‘happily ever-after theme’. How did you wrap up this book, begin your sequel and plan for the series?
At the end of the first book, Aaron reconciles with his ma. I wanted the second to begin with his ma’s marriage and for Aaron to face the problem of the mortgage on the farm. At first, I thought there would be only three books in the series, but then I decided I must have a fourth. I really don’t plan ahead much. I have the main idea and then just begin to write and the rest comes.
When you’re not writing, what are you favorite ways to relax?
First and foremost, I read and read. I also play around with Facebook, my web page, and recently Twitter.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read! Read! Read! And Write! Write! Write!
Where can readers find your Aaron Fowler series, as well as your other works?
Readers can visit my web page, gracewlooper(dot)wordpress(dot)com, or email me at gracelooper(at)yahoo(dot)com. My Apologies, Mr. Poe, and Other Stories that Chill the Soul is available at Thomas Max Publishers, Barnes and Noble, and Bookfinder4U. The Aaron Fowler Series can be ordered from Bella Rosa Book, Amazon, Books-a-Million, and Barnes and Noble.