Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Q&A with Jody Hedlund


By Ellie Whyte



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.

Here, Jody reveals a bit about her latest novel, Hearts Made Whole, and a little about her writing process. 




How did you come up with the idea for Hearts Made Whole?

Historical textbooks are full of stories about men like George Washington, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, and so many more.  And while such men are truly remarkable, all too often their stories overshadow equally courageous and remarkable women. One of my goals as an author is to help bring forgotten women of the past to life.

In the Beacons of Hope series, I'm focusing on historical women light keepers who have often been kept in the dark by the more prominent stories of their male counterparts.  

As I researched for writing a lighthouse series, I came across a fantastic book called, Ladies of the Lights: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service. The book is a tribute to the approximately 50 or so women who served either as primary or assistant keepers in Michigan Lighthouses.

I based the heroine in Hearts Made Whole on of one of those women light keepers. It's my hope to bring her and the other women keepers out of the historical shadows and into the spotlight.


What is the story about and who are the main characters?

This story is set at a lighthouse in southern Michigan on Lake St. Clair where the heroine, Caroline Taylor, is the acting light keeper. However, in the time directly following the Civil War, women weren't allowed to be light keepers if a man was available instead. Men were almost always given precedence.

Along comes the wounded war hero, Ryan Chambers, who having a little bit of lighthouse experience is looking for a place where he can be isolated and nurse his physical and emotional wounds.

Of course, when the two meet, they're both competing for the same job. Caroline needs to stay in the position in order to provide for her four younger siblings. And Ryan needs the job so that he can save to repay his war debts.

As is always true for my books, when the hero and heroine meet both danger and romance abound!


Each of your lighthouse books is set at a real lighthouse that once existed in Michigan or still does exist. Tell us a little about the lighthouse in this second book.

In my first lighthouse book (Love Unexpected), the lighthouse was set at Presque Isle which is on Lake Huron on the north eastern side of the state. For the second book, I picked a lighthouse in a completely new location with the intention of giving readers a different flavor of climate, geography, and the population.

Windmill Point Lighthouse once existed on Lake St. Clair near Detroit, a much more urban and highly trafficked area than the remote wilderness of Presque Isle. Windmill Point Lighthouse was a strategic beacon that helped ships cross from Lake Huron over into Lake Erie as those ships transported raw goods from the Northwest states to eastern cities and seaports.

The lighthouse is named after the old ruins of a windmill where early frontiersmen brought their grain for grinding. Also, legends attribute the area to being an old battle field of a savage encounter between the early French settlers and Indians. As many as 1000 Fox Indians were slaughtered on the banks of Lake St. Clair. Later settlers to the area uncovered bones, arrowheads, tomahawks, and other gruesome mementos of the battle.

Today, all traces of the original windmill, lighthouse, and burial grounds are long gone. If you visit Grosse Pointe in the Detroit area, all that remains is a small conical structure with a white flashing light. 


Is there anything about this second lighthouse book that ties it to the first one? Or are they both stand alone novels that can be read in any order?

All of the books in the Beacon of Hope series can stand alone. Readers don't need to read one book to understand the next. However, I do recommend starting with the novella, Out of the Storm (free in ebook format) which lays the foundation for a common theme that stretches through each book in the series.


The hero of Hearts Made Whole, Ryan Chambers, is the brother of the heroine from the first book (Love Unexpected). Readers will enjoy meeting the younger, more carefree Ryan in Love Unexpected. But they'll fall in love with him in Hearts Made Whole even if they haven't yet met him in book 1.



Do you do a lot of research for your novels? Do you do it before, in the middle, or after you write your novel?

Since I write historicals, research is an integral part of my writing process. I usually spend anywhere between 4-6 weeks on initial research, reading biographies, getting a feel for the time period, and digging into the meat that will comprise the plot of my book.
Once I start writing the first draft, I have to stop from time to time to do a little more research, particularly if I switch settings within the story. But usually, if I don’t know something, I’ll highlight it and then do more research during my editing phase.



What essential ingredients do you strive for in your novels to ensure an authentic love story emerges?

I always try to incorporate the elements that I like to see in the romances I read. That includes deep emotions that are birthed out of a character's past. I also like to have a relationship that evolves organically throughout the book. I try not to have my characters being antagonistic to one another the whole book and then finally falling in love in the last chapter at the last minute. I want the couple to move from friendship to falling in love gradually and to have a growing attraction (with the sparks flying!) throughout the book.

At the same time, however, I don't like to have the love relationship resolve too early in the book. Readers don't want the "happily-ever-after" moment to come until the end. So while the relationship is developing, it's important to find ways to keep the couple from being fully together until the end.


How do you manage to balance your life as a full time author and mom to five busy children?

It’s definitely not easy to manage my busy household of five children and squeeze in time for writing. But fortunately my husband is very helpful and pitches in to help wherever possible. We really work together as a team to support each other in our pursuits and work.

For example, when he's home he often takes over the household responsibilities, runs kids to activities, and pitches in with homeschooling so that I can have concentrated blocks of time to write.
We've also simplified our home life and outside commitments as much as possible. We expect our children to shoulder responsibilities around the home. And last but certainly not least, I rely upon my mom for lots of help too. She helps homeschool, cook meals, and even runs my kids to activities.


Do you ever get writer's block? How do you work your way past it?

No, fortunately, I rarely get writer’s block. I give myself a daily word count of how much I need to write, and I stick to it as best as I can. Whatever amount I miss one day, I try to make up on another day of that week. Having the daily/weekly goals helps keep me going even when I’m not in the mood.
However, if I ever get into a slump, I put in my earbuds and listen to music. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.


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 has been the number one thing to help me in my writing career.



What Scripture verse has inspired you in your writing?

Among many, here’s one I aspire to live by: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecc. 9:10) I believe in working responsibly and hard with the gifts we’ve been given.

Contact Jody:

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund
I get personal on Instagram: instagram.com/JodyHedlund/

Or you're welcome to email me at: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com









The Beacons of Hope series has a FREE novella, Out of the Storm, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au


Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund's Out of the Storm is her first ever novella and introduces readers to Beacons of Hope, a new series set in the 1800s amid the romance, history, and danger surrounding the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan.

FREE Novella, Out of the Storm - available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au
Book 1, Love Unexpected - available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au
Book 2, Hearts Made Whole - available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au



And if you live in the US, Jody's novella, The Vow, which kicks off her medieval YA series, is currently free on Kindle. 
For those outside the US, it's about $3 to buy. 


In this ebook historical romance novella by Jody Hedlund, young Rosemarie finds herself drawn to Thomas, the son of the nearby baron. But just as her feelings begin to grow, a man carrying the Plague interrupts their hunting party. While in forced isolation, Rosemarie begins to contemplate her future—could it include Thomas? Could he be the perfect man to one day rule beside her and oversee her parents’ lands? 

Then Rosemarie is summoned back to her castle in haste. The disease has spread, and her family is threatened. And the secret she discovers when she returns could change her future forever.

This novella also serves as a prequel to Jody Hedlund’s An Uncertain Choice.


YA Novella, The Vow - available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au

I have read the first book in the series, An Uncertain Choice, and highly recommend it for preteens, teens, young adults and adults alike. I cannot wait to read more! 
It's currently on special (less than $2) at both Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au.

Due to her parents' promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father's enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents' will left a second choice--if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the convent is the best place after all. If only one of the knights--the one who appears the most guilty--had not already captured her heart.




YA Novel, An Uncertain Choice - available on Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au

The next book in the series, A Daring Sacrifice, has just had a cover reveal on USA Today, and will be available in March 2016.


Have you read any books by Jody Hedlund? Comment below and tell us your favourites so far, or if any of Jody's writing advice or experience resonates with you.




ELLIE WHYTE is a long-time supporter of Christian fiction and is the founder and owner/operator of Soul Inspirationz // The Christian Fiction Site which relaunched after a 5-year hiatus in January 2013. Ellie also has aspirations for her own writing career, and has begun working on a project set in New Zealand in the 1850s. 
Pinterest: SoulInspiredNZ http://www.pinterest.com/soulinspirednz/

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