Showing posts with label author interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label author interview. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Interview with Author Jody Hedlund

(I'm republishing this interview with Jody Hedlund, as her newest YA is on the cusp of publication.)

Today, I am interviewing author Jody Hedlund 
about the release of Book #1 of her new Orphan Train Series.
(You 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 books?

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 stretches.

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 Always?

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 waiting.

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?
I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website:
Find me on Instagram:
Come pin with me on Pinterest:

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Interview with Jody Hedlund

Congratulations, Jody, on the release of your 2nd historical, Newton & Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace. I not only enjoyed the story, but I learned so much about the man who penned that treasured hymn! I was amazed that you could weave so many facts into such a rich and lovely story.

With a story based on true people and events, how do you 
balance fact with fiction?

It’s important to remain true to the facts. However, if that’s all a fiction writer did the book would turn into a biography. The challenge then is to take the facts and craft them into a riveting tale that readers can’t put down. In order to do that, writers often have to add additional plot lines and characters. Since history doesn’t record everything and we weren’t there to see what really happened, writers have the liberty of interpreting the gaps and adding in things that could have occurred.

I always write with this motto: Build the framework with true facts, but then fill in the unknown and decorate the house with enough color and drama to make a good story.

You always do an enormous amount of research for each of your historicals. What was your research process like for Newton and Polly?

The first part of my research process for Newton and Polly involved reading as many biographies about John Newton that I could find. The one I found to be the most accurate and helpful was called, John Newton From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken.

Another book I found especially helpful was John Newton’s autobiography, Out of the Depths. His accounts are both insightful and inspiring.

After learning as much as I could about both Newton and Polly including their backgrounds and personalities, I then researched the historical context of the story—the political and social climate, the war with France, the slavery issues, pirating, smuggling, impressment, and all the other issues common to the mid-1700’s. 

What was the hardest part about the research?

Once I’d gained an understanding of the bigger picture, I familiarized myself with the smaller details such as clothing, food, homes, and everything else that I could learn about Georgian England. This micro-level research is usually the hardest for me. I want to be as accurate as possible in every detail from what hairstyles the women had to the clothing the sailors wore. But it’s not always easy to locate all the information I need.

Editing is an important aspect of making any story better. How much editing did you have to do for Newton and Polly?

I agree. Editing is critically important for every book whether it’s a writers first book or fifteenth.  Like all my books, Newton and Polly went through a rigorous amount of editing.

The first level of editing I receive on any book is called the content or macro edits. For Newton and Polly, the macro edits were especially brutal. I had to do a lot of rewriting to make the story more focused. Although the story is inherently a romance, I’d gotten a little too carried away with the romance in the first part and had to go back and tone it down.

The second level of editing is called the line edit, which is done by a different editor so that a fresh pair of eyes can view the story. For Newton and Polly, my new editor not only gave me work line by line, but also gave me additional work to do on the content.

Of course, the book went through a couple more edits after that before being ready for publication. All in all, the editing process of Newton and Polly was very intense and took a lot of time!

Speaking of time, about how long does it take you to write a book?

My writing pace varies from project to project. My historical fiction (like Luther and Katharina and Newton and Polly) generally are much more time-consuming to write than my other books. They require weeks and weeks of concentrated research simply because they are so much more complicated. Not only does the researching take longer, but the writing does too because I have to stop and do additional research.

On average, I’d say that my historicals take me about 5 months including the research, first draft, and then self-editing. Obviously, once I'm done and turn it into my publisher, there's still a lot more work that goes into getting the book ready for publication. But my first draft process usually encompasses about five months.

Newton and Polly is your 14th published book! Has the process of writing become any easier?

On one level my writing muscles are incredibly strong, and I feel that I’m writing better now than ever.

On another level, Newton and Polly was the hardest book I’ve ever written. Not only was the unfamiliar setting and time period challenging, but the story itself posed issues, especially with the large gaps in time. I couldn’t include everything or the book would have been hundreds of pages long. So I had to decide what to leave out and then how to summarize the passing of time.

The story was also challenging on a personal level. I went through a period of spiritual rebellion during my youth, and so the story dredged up feelings regarding that. Now as a mother of a prodigal son, I found that writing about Newton’s rejection of God and his estranged relationship with his father took on a much more personal meaning.

I can really relate to that. I went through my own long period of spiritual rebellion, and now am dealing with it as a grandparent.

Newton was a prodigal son. He was estranged from his family during his rebellious years, but later made peace with his father. What hope does Newton and Polly offer to parents dealing with children who have left the faith?

As a one-time prodigal child now experiencing a rebellious child of my own, I take a great amount of comfort in Newton’s story. First, I revel in the knowledge that God can take our mistakes, turn them around, and use them for His plans and purposes. 

Second, I take comfort in Newton’s story because it reminds me that no matter how far our children stray into sin or even atheism like Newton, that they are never beyond the reach of God. We as parents need to do our job planting seeds, praying, and encouraging our children in what’s right. But ultimately God is the one who woos and wins our children to Himself.

From a human perspective, Newton looked hopelessly lost, especially as the years began to pass without any sign of change. But we as parents can find solace in knowing that through all of the pain and heartache, God has not abandoned us or our child. He’s there and His plans are at work, even when we can’t see them.

Amen! I take comfort in knowing that God is still wooing my grandchildren.

For the wanna-be-published-someday writers who read my blog, what stands out in your mind about what has made you grow the most as a writer?

If I had to narrow down one specific thing that has helped the most in my quest for publication, I’d have to say this: My careful, ongoing, and thorough study and practice of writing techniques has been the single most beneficial aspect of my writing career.

In other words, I read writing craft books, studied fiction-writing basics, and then put what I learned into practice. All the studying and writing has been the number one thing to help me in my writing career.

And what a career it's been! The Preacher’s Bride debuted in 2010, became a CBA bestseller, and won multiple awards. January 2015, you ventured into YA with the release of a prequel novella—The Vow— and followed that with two full-length novels.  And in October, you released your first historical, Luther and Katharina.

What can we look forward to next in your publication schedule?

In January of 2017, readers can look forward to the 5th and final book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series! Be looking for a cover reveal soon!

Then in March of 2017, my third young adult book, For Love and Honor releases. This book spotlights the third knight in the series, Sir Bennet and tells how he finds his one true love.

In June of 2017, I’ll be unveiling a brand new series published by Bethany House. More information coming soon!

My, you have been busy! I loved the Beacons of Hope series. I'm glad you decided to write one last book for that series. And I can't wait to read Sir Bennet's story! Your journey into YA has been quite enjoyable for even your "seasoned" readers. I can't wait to find out what you new series will be.

Thank you for letting your readers have a behind-the-scenes peek at your writing career.

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading. 

You can connect with Jody on
and her website.