Inspirational novelist Grace Hitchcock will presenting a session on character development for the upcoming SCWC Virtual Fiction Workshop, to be held online on Dec. 5.
Grace is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing and has written multiple novellas in "The Second Chance Brides," "The Southern Belle Brides," and the "Thimbles and Threads" collections with Barbour Publishing. Her newest book, My Dear Miss Dupré (the first in her "American Royalty" series) will be published by Bethany House Publishers in March. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History, and lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son.
I recently had the chance to talk to Grace about her books, her faith, and what she hopes to provide to participants of the upcoming virtual fiction event.
How did you get started as a writer?
Like a lot of writers, I have always been an avid reader. As a child, going to the library was the highlight of my week and I would read through entire shelves of Historical Fiction until every single favorite author’s works were exhausted and I began to dream of stories that I could write.
So, for my senior English course in high school, I wrote my very first historical fiction novel as a test to see if this was something I wanted to pursue in college. Of course, when I read my first “novel” now, I giggle at my word choice and cringe at my sentence structure, but I had so much fun writing it that I decided to major in English and minor in History. I found that I loved studying the art of writing, so I stayed in school and obtained my masters in Creative Writing as well. I wrote part of a novel for my thesis and finished it after I graduated. It was better than my first, but it definitely was not going to get published. I needed to try again.
So, I studied the market and found an era and story that I loved and wrote long into the night for six months while working full-time until I had finally finished it. Novel number three turned out to be a winner! With my Victorian novel, I signed with Tamela Hancock Murray at the Steve Laube Agency.
What type of fiction do you write? What is it about this type that appeals to you?
I write historical romance with a dash of suspense, unless it was for my true crime books which have a bit more than a dash of suspense ☺ The Gilded Age speaks to me as it was a time of change for women. While still having that epic romance feel with balls and dancing and courtships with a sweet romance, women were breaking ground and making history and pairing that with the fact that it was a time of emerging inventions, it is an all-around exciting era to research, read and write.
You will be doing a session on character development at the SCWC Virtual Fiction Workshop. Why are characters so important in fiction?
Usually, there are two schools of thought on what makes a good book, either plot-driven or character-driven. I think it takes a marriage of the two to truly take a story from good to great because you can have the best plot in the world, but if you have an unlikeable heroine, there is a greater chance of readers setting aside your novel. We don’t want to give them that chance.
What do you hope to provide for participants who come to your session?
In this session, we will discuss how you can bring the characters that have been living in your head to life on the page using some of the techniques I have learned over the years of studying and practicing the craft. After the session, I will provide a character building "cheat sheet" for your reference.
What are your newest publications? And what are you currently working on?
After signing with Tamela in 2015, I sold three novellas to Barbour Publishing in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections. And then, in March 2019, I released my debut novel, The White City, from Barbour Publishing and signed for a second novel, The Gray Chamber, that released in January 2020.
This spring, I signed with Bethany House Publishers for my first ever series. I am thrilled for this dream come true. The first book in the American Royalty series, My Dear Miss Dupré, releases March 2, 2021. While I wait for its release, I’m keeping busy editing and writing book two.
(About My Dear Miss Dupré:
The goal was simple, find a husband so she could be queen of her father’s sugar empire. Thirty suitors, six months of courting…was that enough time for her to fall in love?
Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, plans changed. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan — find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the empire.
Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is expected to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn’t expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets Cullen Dempsey, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.)
How does your Christian faith play a part in your writing?
No matter how subtle my theme or short the verses, my stories will always point the reader to the Lord. Usually, whatever I am personally learning spiritually while writing impacts my heroine/hero in some way. In my most recent release, The Gray Chamber, the lead characters try again and again to take matters into their own hands and fail, so I forced them to sit still and wait on God to fight this battle for them because, sometimes, we can do everything in our power to change a circumstance and it does nothing when all we are supposed to do is stop, be still and let God move. So, I gave my heroine that lesson. Even though it feels a bit vulnerable to put my personal lessons in a book, I think that it offers a level of genuineness that can bring life to the story and hope to the reader.
What else might SCWC members be interested to know about you?
My little family has grown in size this past month! We are so in love with our baby girl and are enjoying seeing our toddler bond with his little sister. When not writing or chasing after my toddler and cuddling the baby, we enjoy living life in south Louisiana with our family and friends and dream of traveling once again.
Learn more about Grace on her Amazon page.
Learn more about Grace at her website. www.gracehitchcockbooks.com