Monday, May 27, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Jody Hedlund

Jody Hedlund has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). 
After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards. Since then she’s gone on to publish numerous best-selling and award-winning books.

The following is a May 2013 interview with Jody.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been married to my college sweetheart for over twenty years, and we have five children ranging in ages from 15 down to 6. Between homeschooling and running our kids to activities, we're crazily busy! We live in central Michigan and so take our summers very seriously, considering at least 6 months of the year are cold and overcast.

When I'm not homeschooling or writing, you might find me sneaking in some pleasure reading. And you'd definitely find me eating chocolate and guzzling coffee!

How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?

I’m pretty sure I was born with a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other. Since my earliest days, I loved making up stories and writing them down. The passion followed me into adulthood. And after many twists and turns along the path, I’ve finally been able to channel that passion into a full time writing career.

What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

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. She said 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 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.

How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 

Each book has a different take-away message.

For example in Unending Devotion the inspiration for this story are the countless women who suffered from white slavery during the lumber era. My hope is that we will never forget them. Even more than that, it's my hope that we may we rise up, stand tall, and fight against the injustices that still exist today.

In A Noble Groom I want readers to know God does indeed care for them. Even when He seems busy with more important people and matters, I hope readers will have a new awakening of His nearness especially during their darkest moments of pain.

What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why? 

I'm always thrilled when readers tell me they couldn't put one of my books down or when they say that the story kept them up late and deprived them of sleep. I always love ALL responses. 

But I'm really blessed when I know readers are encouraged and uplifted in some way by the messages or themes of my books. I get regular emails from readers who thank me for my stories touching them and helping them grow.

How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

I'm grateful that I can use my gifts and abilities for His glory. I consider myself really blessed that I can wake up each day and do something I absolutely love in writing stories. It's an honor to know that through them, I'm helping point people toward a great awareness of who God is and what He's done for us.

Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life? 

Since I'm in the midst of raising a busy family of five children, I want to enjoy my family and raise my children to glorify God. That's a HUGE task right now and takes up most of my time and energy when I'm not writing.

Someday I hope to be able to take naps again. But until then, I dream about the day!

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Spare time? What's that? *Grin*

No, seriously. When I have a minute or two to myself, I love to read! I've taken to using audio books as a way to squeeze in more reading, especially as I'm doing house chores or exercising.

Also, this spring, I've taken up running with my daughter. We're enjoying getting into shape together and pushing each other to keep at it.

What can you tell us about your latest novel? 

A Noble Groom released in April and centers around a German immigrant farming community in central Michigan during the 1880's. If you like mail-order bride stories, then you'll like this one because it has a special twist involving a mail-order groom!

I was drawn to write this story for a number of reasons. One reason is that I live in central Michigan and am fascinated by the history behind the area. Since there have been so few books set in Michigan, I'm delighted to pioneer the way into bringing my state's history to life.

Another reason I chose to focus on this German immigrant farming community, is because of my own German roots. My father's family immigrated from Germany and eventually many of them became farmers. My dad grew up on a big farm in central Wisconsin, and even though he later became a Lutheran pastor, he carried his love of farming and gardening over into our family when I was growing up. I spent my summers snapping beans, shucking peas, freezing corn, and canning tomatoes that came from his enormous garden.

A Noble Groom

Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichert, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Karl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.

The Preacher's Bride
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

The Doctor's Lady
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Unending Devotion
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

A Noble Groom
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Rebellious Heart
[Pre-Order: | Amazon Kindle]

What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?

Currently, I'm working on several various fiction projects. My next book, Rebellious Heart releases this coming fall (2013) [NZ's Spring]. It follows in the same vein as The Preacher’s Bride and The Doctor’s Lady in that it’s also inspired by a famous couple from history. The story is set in Colonial America and is based on the beautiful courtship of John and Abigail Adams. Of course, as I've done in the past, I've changed names and fictionalized the account, but it still gives insight into one of America's most famous couples. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it!

What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

I'm always thrilled to hear from international readers. There's just something so special about knowing one of your books has made its way into the hands of someone living in a different part of the world! Thank you for reading my books and supporting me!

Do you have any parting words?

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:

Or you're welcome to email me.

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