Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Author Behind the Story Series - Kathy Rouser


As I scroll through Facebook and see friends building a snowman on vacation up north, we sit here in Florida sweltering in ninety degree heat with a heat index of one hundred...in OCTOBER! (Remind me why I live in Florida again?) So, as we skip fall and plow ahead with an extension of summer, I want to welcome my next guest to the Florida front porch, author Kathy Rouser!

Kathy, pull up a chair, grab some iced tea, and give us a quick bio of who Kathy Rouser is?

I’m Kathleen Rouser, writer of inspirational historical romance. Most importantly, I’m in the grip of Jesus’ life changing grace and mercy. I’m grateful to be a wife to Jack and mother to Matthew, Leslie, and Jesse. I’m also a fan of the three Cs–cats, coffee, and chocolate. 

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

Before I wanted to be a writer I was sitting next to my mom while she read to me, taking naps, and sucking my thumb. Seriously! I wanted to be a writer from the time I was about four-years-old and before I could read. My friend, Laurie, and I would make up adventures to play together and I loved hearing the stories my mother read aloud. I was enchanted by picture books. I memorized a book called My Own Little House and would “read” it to anyone who would listen. I couldn’t wait until I learned to read and write. I wanted to write and illustrate my own books when I grew up.

Of course, dreams wax and wane as you grow and change. For quite a few years my passion was art. When I was in high school I focused on drawing and painting. But then I was on the school newspaper and bit by the writing bug again. I had my first magazine article published when I was 20. A friend of mine’s mom owned a travel magazine and was looking for an article on travel in space in the future. She liked what I wrote and published it.

When I was 21, I had my oldest son and focused mainly on raising the kids and homeschooling for the next 15 years as my husband was often gone on business. There were little writing projects here and there, but it wasn’t until the late 90s that I decided to seriously pursue fiction writing.

"Dreams wax and wane." You said it. So, what educational background do you have?

I went to a small parochial high school in the Detroit area. It was called Shrine High School and affiliated with Shrine of the Little Flower (St. Therese) Roman Catholic church, which is now a national shrine.

For my first two years of college I attended Michigan State University which had one of the highest-rated communications programs in the country. I thought it gave me lots of options to use my writing skills and I toyed with going into a public relations career. Then along came unexpected love, marriage, and children.

It wasn’t until my children were grown that I decided to go back to school for health care—twice. The first time I earned a liberal arts degree at Oakland Community College, along with a small amount of training in ophthalmic assisting—too little it turned out to land a job. Soon I was back in school. I earned an associate of applied science in dental assisting at Washtenaw Community College, the best accredited dental assistant program in Michigan. I earned two certifications. I worked in a contract job for a year and then did some temp work, but it became clear to me that wasn’t where the Lord wanted me to stay. Plus, the long hours were hard on me physically. I’m happily home much of the time and able to spend more time on writing now.

Small world. My wife is from Michigan. Lived in the Detroit/Pontiac/Auburn Hills area growing up. She wanted to move back to Michigan and be a dentist when we first met. And I think her mother attended Oakland CC. You've already stated you are married and have children. Anything you wish to tell us about your family? 

I’ve been married to my wonderfully supportive husband, Jack, for 36 years this December. We have three grown children scattered around the country.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.

Favorite Food: Mint-chocolate chip ice cream—the marriage of creamy mint ice cream and dark chocolate. Need I say more?
Favorite Drink: A mocha latte. I love coffee. Add chocolate and it’s even better.
Favorite Song: Contemporary Christian: “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision”—Both beautiful worship songs that speak to my heart.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): At the moment, Finding God’s Blessings in Brokenness, by Charles F. Stanley. Reading this was the beginning of healing for me this past year as I waded through a grieving process.
Favorite Bible Verse: Lamentations 3:22-23 - It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Favorite Movie: While You Were Sleeping – It’s the quintessential romance and I love the humor
Favorite Actor or Actress: I don’t really have one. There are so many good ones out there.
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Pride and Prejudice. Not very original of me, I know, but I appreciate Jane Austen’s wit and it was one of the original romance novels.
Favorite Novelist (other than you): It’s a toss-up between Jane Austen and Jan Karon. They’ve both inspired me in different ways and I just like to read their books more than once!
Favorite Sport: Maybe ice skating because of the gracefulness of it, but I’m really not a sports person at all.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Goes with the last question—not a sports person. Although I’ll root for the MSU Spartans over the U-M Wolverines.  (This past weekend must have been wonderful.)
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: Probably English/Language Arts. I loved reading stories and understanding how the parts of grammar work and learning new words. Definitely weird, I know!
Favorite Subject Now: As in school subject? Or topic of conversation? (Good question.)
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Williams, my third-grade teacher. I wish I could find her and tell her what a encouragement she was to me. She was the first teacher to encourage my writing and she was always kind to me.
Favorite Time of the Year: Autumn. I love that it’s not as hot anymore (usually, this year being an exception) and not too cold. Plus, the fall colors are beautiful. I also loved starting a new school year full of possibilities, whether as a student or a homeschooling mom.
Favorite Place to Vacation: I love northern Michigan, but I must say the nicest place I ever vacationed is Hawaii. Northern Michigan is a lot more doable though. It’s only a few hours away and has some of the best scenery ever with its lakes and trees.


           
If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be? 

There are plenty of people that would be a lot of fun to meet. Growing up, I always admired Louisa May Alcott as Little Women was a favorite book of mine. I’d like to talk to her about what it was like to be a woman writer in 19th century America and more about her stories behind her stories, which I love.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

First I was going to say Daniel, because of how steadfast he was in his faith, to ask him how he trusted God the way he did, but then I was thinking how wonderful it would be to talk to Mary,
the mother of Jesus. It would be so interesting to hear more about Jesus’ life on earth, what it was like growing up in His earthly family, some of the mundane everyday things, and just to get her perspective on how things happened. I’m wondering if it would make me feel even closer to Jesus, or to feel like I know Him even better.

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author? 

My experience of feeling as though I’d been going through a spiritual wilderness this last year really sharpened my focus. I’d been going through (and continue to) a grief of sorts over lost relationships that made me feel far away from the Lord. I kept waiting, listening, and grabbing any crumb of hope He gave me until I saw Jesus in a new light and my faith was renewed. During that whole period I was working on rewrites for Secrets and Wishes. As I pushed my way through, begging God for strength and energy I learned that even when the way isn’t easy, if He’s given you a job to do, He’ll make a way for you to do it. So even when writing feels overwhelming or impossible it’s important to keep putting one foot in front of the other, metaphorically speaking, and take the next step in obedience. It’s not time to give up. I felt empty, but He made a way. And He’s been with me through it all.

Why do you live where you live?  

My husband and I grew up in the Detroit area. We’re lifelong Michiganders. When his office moved farther away from the city and the drive got to be a bit much, we decided to move to a small town in a semi-rural area, though it’s gotten more built up over the last few years. The drive has been better for Jack and we enjoy the beautiful scenery, the winding roads, and lakes. It’s seems more peaceful and we have a little more room out here. We love it!


We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life? 

Probably Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. A dear friend of mine wanted to use this book as a Bible study we would do together last winter/spring. I wasn’t so sure I was feeling very thankful for anything at the time of being in the wilderness, but the Lord eventually softened my heart. Going through this book and learning to make thankfulness a regular practice instead of finding the negative in everything definitely helped me change my perspective. I did the journaling activities along with reading the book and it had a profound effect on my heart attitude. I should probably go through it every year!

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why? 

I was listening to John MacArthur on the radio one day talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection around Easter time many years ago. As he taught that Jesus had died once and for all for all of our sins and rose again, he also quoted John 10:28: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. He talked about how salvation was all Jesus’ work and not by our good works. Even though I had thought I committed my life to Christ I was sure that since I wasn’t living for Him the way I should I was no longer worthy of being saved. Hearing John 10:28 lifted a burden from me! From that day forward my whole life changed, knowing He keeps me in the palm of His hand.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

I enjoy making jewelry and knitting, basically creating new things with my hands I guess. I’m thankful to have the privilege of teaching children at our local Community Bible Study.
And I wouldn’t mind trying writing in another genre such as YA speculative someday. For now I’m pleased to be able to share my stories about the fictional characters of Stone Creek, Michigan at the turn of the last century and grateful to work with LPC Books.


Kathy, it's been a pleasure having you stop by and share some interesting and personal thoughts with our readers. 

Readers, if you wish to connect with Kathy, here are some ways:



Until next time, may God bless you all, and may you all bless God!

Kevin


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