I'm happy to tell you all that Jody Hedlund joins my blog today for an interview about her latest release, The Doctor's Lady (2011). Plus we'll get a little idea about her next release, Unending Devotion set to release in September of this year (2012). And.....drumroll please.....there will be a FREE drawing for a book give away of The Doctor's Lady. Details to follow.....
So, go fill your coffee mug, cover up with a nice throw and tuck your feet underneath it until you're snugly warm while we hear about what inspired Jody to write this wonderful tale I just finished. No spoilers though for those who haven't read it yet!
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning author of inspirational historical romances, including the best-selling historical, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.
1. Jody, how did you come across the historical journals that sparked your interest in this story?
Because I homeschool my children, I do a LOT of reading to them. Part of that reading includes "living history" books about real people. When we were reading about the settling of the western part of the United States, I pulled out a children's book about Narcissa Whitman and read it to my children.
Of course, in reading the book, I was fascinated by Narcissa's story and wanted to delve deeper into all of the "what ifs." I presented the idea to my publisher and they were interested in it as well.
2. Did you get the chance to do any on sight research, or have you ever been to any of the places along Eli and Priscilla's journey?
Although I suggested taking a trip in a covered wagon to re-enact the journey west, my family didn't go for it. *Sigh* I can't understand why! It would have been so fun to be hot and sweaty and walk for hundreds of miles with very little to eat!
No seriously, I wasn't able to do on sight research for this trip. Instead I relied upon Narcissa's diary as well as other firsthand records of pioneers who had traveled the route.
3. How on earth do you carve out time to research and write when you home school 5 children? I mean, I'm picturing 5 well-behaved, perfect children, sitting at desks lined in your dining room or living room, quietly doing their assignments while you are banging away on your keyboard! How do you find the balance?
It's definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I've had to look for ways to make it work. I try to keep school time and my writing time separate. That way I can focus on my children while we're doing school. Then when we're done in the afternoon, they're ready for a break from me, and I'm ready to write. My husband also pitches in so I get a little extra writing time when he's teaching the kids.
4. What was your favorite part about writing this novel? Hardest part?
I loved being able to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt the journey west--a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what later would become known as the Oregon Trail.
I struggled the most during the editing phase. After my Bethany House editors read the book, they asked me to make major changes on some things they didn't like--a few things that were too realistic and slightly depressing. The rewriting is always hard for me, but once I'm done I'm always grateful for the suggestions because I know they make my book better.
5. What advice would you give to budding historical fiction writers without agents or contracts?
Write a couple books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading fiction how-to books. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. Read a lot of historical fiction too. However, don't just read for pleasure. Instead make sure to analyze what works, what grips you, what's selling, and how you can fit into the current publishing climate but still offer something new.
6. What hints can you bait your faithful readers with about your next book?
My next book is called Unending Devotion and it releases in September of this year (2012). I'm really excited about this story because it's set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880's at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn't inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr, who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.
The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who's caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.
7. What brings you the most joy about writing?
As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I'm able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it's the best thing I've ever written.
As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I'm always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.
You can find Jody online at http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/ at her blog. She can also be found on Facebook at Author Jody Hedlund, or on her website www.jodyhedlund.com
So, dear blog fans, to enter the drawing for a chance to win a free copy of The Doctor's Lady, just make a comment, include your email in the comment. In one week, the winner will receive an email contact in order to mail the book to you!
I hope you all enjoyed meeting Jody. I know you will enjoy the journey she takes you on with Eli and Priscilla.