I first met author T. M. Gaouette about four years ago, via her novels Freeing Tanner Rose and The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. T. M.’s fiction drew me in with its unique topics (foster kids and kung fu) and the way she wove her Catholic faith through her stories.
Recently, T. M. emailed me to say that she’s now releasing her third novel in the Faith & Kung Fu series. I was excited to read more about Gabriel and Tanner and their friends, but Amazon was somehow unable to deliver the book to me. (Sometimes that little ol’ thing called a border really gets in the way.) Instead of reading Guarding Aaron, I asked T. M. if we could chat about her books.
TKM: First, tell us a bit about yourself.
T.M.: Hey, I’m T. M. Gaouette and I’m a Catholic, wife, mother, and an author. I was born in a small country in Africa, but my family moved to England where I grew up. At 21, I attended college in New England, where I currently reside with my husband and four children. We live on a small farmstead where I home school my children, raise goats, make goat milk soap, and write fiction for teens.
I began writing as a child. I always had a diary so I’d scribble down my personal joys and sorrows in that. I also loved to write poetry, songs, short stories, and scripts, but I never gave any of it to God or gloried Him in my words.
Although I am a cradle Catholic, it wasn’t until I had my first child that I realized how much I needed the Lord in my parenting endeavors and how grateful I am to have Him in my life. I began to see the world from a mother’s eyes, recognizing the bad influences in all aspects of society, but especially in the entertainment industry.
I never had great role models as a child, and so I put my writing to work for the Lord, trying to create those role models. My stories are my ministry and through them, I speak His truth, and hope that I inspire young readers to want to know, love, and serve Him more.
TKM: Tell us a bit about your new book (no spoilers!). Will we meet new characters or find out more about favourite characters from your first books?
Guarding Aaron is the third book in my Faith & Kung Fu series. You’ll definitely find out more about past characters, especially Gabriel and Tanner, and you’ll meet new characters too. The stories main thread focuses on bullying and how to deal with it, but there are also elements of jealousy, forgiveness, vocational discernment, and doing God’s will.
TKM: What inspired you to write your Faith & Kung Fu series?
The first character who came to me was Gabriel, a teen with extremely attractive physical characteristics.
Usually, characters possessing such qualities are arrogant. But Gabriel strives to live for the Lord. He’s physically and emotionally strong because of his faith and kung fu. He uses the qualities needed for the latter to help strengthen the former, such as discipline, modesty, and balance.
Much of his steadfastness and control is put to the test when Tanner Rose, a young Hollywood starlet, is forced into his life. Now that was an interaction I really wanted to bring to life! You can read all about it in Freeing Tanner Rose.
TKM: What’s the biggest things you hope teens will take away from this series?
That in all the struggles we face in life, God is our constant strength.
TKM: What was your biggest challenge in writing your books?
I think it’s two-fold. There’s the common misconception that faith-filled fiction is poorly written or boring. There’s also the struggle of grabbing the attention of readers who are deeply distracted. With such a strong motivation from progressive entities, in addition to the distraction of social media, it’s difficult to attract the attention of teens with a book.
When I sell at books fairs, I often hear, “My kids don’t read.” I think that’s so sad.
So, when writing, I have to really go above and beyond in trying to introduce a true-to-life, relatable story that’s edifying and faith-filled, without being preachy. In many ways though, I believe that this challenge makes me a stronger writer.
TKM: What was your biggest surprise or success in getting your book into the hands of readers?
It was both a surprise and success when I visited my first school and spoke to students who had been assigned The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch as part of their 6th grade curriculum. They were so extremely excited about the story and engaged in everything I had to say.
Of course, that’s an author’s hope when we write our stories, but when the hands fly up and you’re bombarded with question after question about characters, motivations, and the writing process, it’s just so encouraging. It really makes it all worthwhile.
TKM: What advice would you offer to other writers?
If you have it in your heart to write, then get serious about writing as a career path as soon as possible and keep at it. It will be a roller-coaster ride.
You will need faith, passion, and persistence.
Join writing groups such as the Catholic Writers Guild for support, advice, and to strengthen your art. Many places have critique groups that are extremely helpful.
Always turn to God when you feel discouraged, find strength in Him, and praise Him constantly, in good times and in bad.
Remember too that success won’t necessarily happen on your time-frame. God has His plan, so focus on Him and your writing, glorifying Him in your work, and He will lead you to success.
TKM: How long did it take you to write your first book?
My first book, The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, was published in 2012, but I began writing it in 2006.
TKM: Are you working on another book?
I’m actually working on two books. I was set to write the fourth and last in this Faith & Kung Fu series, but then a back-burner story began nagging at me out of the blue. I haven’t touched it in years, but I think that the Lord is pushing me to get this one out too.
TKM: Who are your favourite authors and why?
I confess, I resort back to fictional classics, mainly because they inspire me as a writer. Tolkien, Chesterton, Lewis, and James are among my favorites for their various tones and writing styles. I also adore the laid back air of Hemingway. But being a part of CatholicTeenBooks.com has introduced me to some amazing modern authors, such as Corinna Turner, Susan Peek, and Theresa Linden, among others.
TKM: Where else can we find you online?
Please visit my website for more about me and my books.
You can find me (and other great authors!) at CatholicTeenBooks.com.
I also have an Amazon Author Page.
TKM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, there are some exciting things going on in Catholic teen fiction, and I highly recommend checking out CatholicTeenBooks.com. We’re a growing organization comprised of several authors with a desire to share and strengthen faith through our fiction. We offer adventures in many genres!