(I'm republishing this interview with Jody Hedlund, as her newest YA is on the cusp of publication.)
Today, I am interviewing author
about the release of Book #1 of her new Orphan Train Series.
can read my review of the book here.)
Congratulations on the release of With You Always! This first book of your
new series is the third book you’ve released in 2017. Most of my writer friends (myself included) say
they have trouble making time to write. How do you find time to write so many
I keep a very rigorous writing schedule, usually writing six days a week.
I give myself a challenging word count goal—a certain number of words to write
every day. Then, in the morning, I sit down and write until I meet my goals.
It’s as simple . . . and as hard as that!
I like to compare being an author to a marathon runner. The person
training to run a marathon doesn’t start off running twenty-six miles the first
time she runs. Instead she begins with just a few miles, strengthens her
muscles, builds her endurance, and slowly adds more miles.
Writing is the same way. Over the years, I’ve strengthened my writing
muscles and built up my endurance so that now I can write faster and for longer
You make it sound easy, but I know
it takes commitment. What is your
inspiration to write?
I write because I love telling
stories. I love the quote by Toni Morrison because it sums up part of why I
write: "If there's a book that you
want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
Essentially, I write the stories that I LOVE to read! Of course there are
other, deeper reasons I write too. But mostly I just really enjoy the process
of creating imaginary people and places.
I’ve heard you use that Morrison quote before.
I’m moving into a new
home right now—perhaps that
quote should go on the wall above my computer desk.
Is there something you tell yourself before writing?
Usually I tell myself to
sit down, put my hands to the keyboard, and get to work. I don't wait for
inspiration or magical fairy dust to hit me before writing. I just do it.
But I also always ask myself, what could make
this story better? How can I increase the tension? How can add more excitement?
What can I do to make my characters more likeable? I'm constantly challenging
myself to make my story more vibrant and alive.
I think too many of us wait for
the inspiration to come before setting down to the keyboard.
It’s quite obvious that you put a
lot of research in all your books. What special research did you do in writing With You Always?
In the beginning phases of writing this series, I did a great deal of
reading about the orphan train movement. In particular, I really loved Stephen
O’Conor’s book, Orphan Trains,
because he includes so many personal stories and details about real orphans,
which are heart wrenching.
I also read, A History of New York
City to 1898, by Burrows and Wallace, which gave me great insights into the
lives of immigrants, particularly immigrant women. Masses of foreigners were
arriving into New York City on a daily basis, and the book gave a detailed look
into their pathetic housing situation, the difficult working conditions, as
well as gang problems and the underworld.
Finally, another important aspect of the story that required a
concentrated amount of research was the development of railroads. The
mid-1800’s was an incredible period of growth for the railroad industry in the
Mid-West. The new railroads aided the orphan train movement but also brought
about the settlement of the Midwestern states, including Illinois, which is one
of the settings of the book.
You certainly painted a picture of
horrid living conditions for these New York City women. I feel quite blessed to
be born into a better situation. Speaking of blessings, what role does faith
play in your novels?
While I try not to preach at my readers, I do weave
faith themes through my books. My faith also motivates me to keep my stories
"clean." I believe Christian fiction is a much needed alternative,
especially Christian romance.
I just recently got an email from a reader telling me she that she'd
picked up several books and been really turned off by the explicitness within
them, but that she didn't realize the books contained such content until she
started reading them. She wanted to know if there was a rating system or some
way that she could tell if the book would be "clean" before she
started reading. I was glad that I could point her to inspirational Christian
fiction, that she would be guaranteed the sweet romance she desired.
I can certainly relate to her
experience. It’s another reason I want to write suspense. I would love a rating
system like that. It would surely make book shopping an easier experience.
Is there anything particular that
you hope readers take away from With You
One of my hopes in telling this story is to leave readers with the
reminder that God is walking with us in whatever dark valley we’re going
through. Often, like Elise, we tend to pull away from God and let the
bitterness of our circumstances drive us into a cave of isolation and
self-blame and heartache. But God wants us to realize that even if we pull away
from Him, He’s still there walking by our side, waiting for us to reach out our
hand and grab hold of Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He’s there
Amen! Well, I think you have
achieved that with this story.
I want to thank you for answering
some questions for my readers. Do you have any parting words for them?
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and say hello!