Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
My name is Ellen Gable and I have been married to my husband, James Hrkach, for 25 years. We have five sons: Josh (21), Ben (19), Tim (16), Adam (12), Paul (9) and seven children in heaven. We live in the country near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am, however, originally from New Jersey and my extended family still lives in Southern New Jersey.
My husband is a teacher, musician, writer and artist (he designed the cover of my book). Presently, I am homeschooling our two youngest boys and working part-time from home transcribing court documents. As well, I do freelance writing for several magazines and websites.
Q: Please describe this book for anyone who might not have read the book.
“Emily’s Hope” is the story of a young woman’s journey from high school to adulthood. It also tells the story of Emily’s great-grandmother, a “Margaret Sanger” type and shows her difficult journey from the early part of the 20th century to the 1960’s. “Emily’s Hope” can be purchased via our website at www.fullquiverpublishing.com. and it’s also available via Amazon.com.
Q: Who is your target audience for Emily’s Hope and what message do you hope to share with this book?
The target audience, I believe, for Emily’s Hope is young adults (16 to 30), although men and women of all ages have read it and enjoyed it. It was my “hope” that young women, most especially, will be drawn into the story and at the same time, learn Catholic teaching regarding sexuality and marriage.
Q: How did the idea for this story come to you?
My husband actually gave me the idea to write the story. Much of it is based on the true life experiences of both myself and my great-grandmother. However, for continuity’s sake and to protect some of the characters’ identities, I fictionalized the stories. I changed names, amalgamated incidents and characters.
Q: I know that you’ve done a good deal of writing on your topics of interest. How does writing in the genre of fiction vary from your previous writing and have you found it to be an effective avenue for spreading your ideas?
I have done extensive non-fiction writing for Catholic magazines and websites. Writing fiction, in my opinion, is more difficult. It is, however, a great means of evangelizing.I am the type of person who, when given the chance, evangelizes or as my mom calls it, “gets on my soapbox.” We never know when God will put someone in our path and when what we have to say might positively affect that person. I have spoken to all kinds of people about my favorite topics (like NFP and chastity): mothers in the McDonald’s playroom, the cashier at A & P, the people in the dentist office, the driver registration office etc. I believe that there’s no better way to get on your soapbox than to write a book. People who would not normally read Catholic fiction (like “pro-choice feminists” and other non-Catholics) have read my book and have told me they enjoyed it.
Also, I told my husband that if, in the writing of this novel, just one person in the world felt like their life was changed for the better because they read my book, I would feel that I had reached my goal. However, when I completed the first draft of my book, I knew that I had already reached that goal, and that I had changed, so much for the better. My relationship to God has become much stronger, I have become more intensely passionate and loving towards my husband, and I have grown in appreciation of my role as mother to our five sons.
Q: Which character in the book do you most closely resemble?
I modeled the Emily character after myself. In actuality, I learned a lot about myself; why I made certain choices and why I took certain paths. It was, however, especially difficult for me to share certain “humiliating” moments, but it is my hope that others will learn from them.
Q: Does Emily’s story have any basis in truth?
Yes, it is very much a truth-based story, though I fictionalized names, amalgamated events and characters for continuity, and added fictional events as necessary. My great-grandmother’s story is more fictionalized because there was too much missing information and I needed to create a continuous story.
Q: How can parents emphasize the importance of the concept of chastity with their children from a young age?
I believe parents can emphasize the importance of chastity with their children by being open and honest with them. We teach our children about the “Theology of the Body,” early on, about the beauty of their body, about the importance of saving it for that special someone with whom they will make a life-time sacramental commitment. And, although speaking to your children early is important, it’s also important to continue speaking with them throughout pre-teen years, puberty and beyond. My oldest son’s favorite ploy to “trick” me into letting him stay up late was to say, “So, mom, this sex thing, why is it so important to wait until marriage?” He knew that I would launch into an hour dialogue with him and it would mean that he would be up an extra hour. I knew what he was doing and didn’t mind. Our boys know that they can talk to us about anything, especially in the area of sexuality.
Q: How do you respond to families who shy away from NFP due to financial hardships or other difficulties?
First of all, I would try to convince them that modern methods of NFP are an effective way of spacing and limiting your family. We have had the experience of using NFP with a very serious need to avoid pregnancy and we have known other couples in the same circumstances. Many people mistakenly think that modern NFP is the same as the old rhythm method and this is not true.
Some couples say that they can’t afford another child and in many cases, it is true that there would be financial hardship if they conceived. With the high effectiveness of NFP, it is possible to avoid a pregnancy which would be a hardship. However, I also know couples who say that they can’t afford another child, yet they have a high income and many material possessions. So I think it’s important to weigh one’s priorities and try to decide what is a necessity and what is a luxury with regard to “financial hardships.” As a side note, NFP is one of the least expensive methods to use and it respects, rather than destroys, a woman’s fertility.
In 25 years of using NFP, we have never experienced an “unplanned” pregnancy.
Q: Please share a few of your favorite chastity and NFP resources.
First of all, for chastity resources, I would highly recommend Jason Evert’s booklet “Pure Love,” as well as his book, “If You Really Love Me.” My teenage boys love his DVD, “Romance Without Regret” and they want to keep watching it over and over again. Crystalina Evert’s booklet, “Pure Womanhood,” is also wonderful. (www.pureloveclub.com) The Everts’ show “The Pure Life” currently airs Thursday nights on EWTN and is an excellent program. Pam Stenzel’s “Sex Has a Price Tag” is an entertaining and yet informative video as well.
As for NFP resources, I would highly recommend The Couple to Couple League and John and Sheila Kippley’s book, “The Art of NFP.” James and I have been a teaching couple for CCL for 23 years and we have really enjoyed the experience. The book, “Life-Giving Love,” by Kimberly Hahn is an excellent reference as well. I would also recommend the many Christopher West CDs, books and DVDs regarding John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” as well as Dr. Janet Smith’s “Contraception Why Not,” CD.
Q: Do you have any future writing projects in the works?
I am currently working on a Catholic historical novel called “In Name Only,” which is my attempt to illustrate the Theology of the Body and the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality through fictional characters and plot. Hopefully, it will be published sometime in 2008.
My husband and I are also currently working on a book entitled “Speaking of Abstinence,” which is a self-help type book for NFP couples who are currently avoiding pregnancy and abstaining in the fertile time.