Monday, January 27, 2014

Featured Author Interview: Hannah Alexander

Hannah Alexander is the pen name for the husband-and-wife writing team Dr. Mel and Cheryl Hodde. The Hoddes began collaborating on fiction books during their first date, actually a blind date arranged by their pastor. It all began when Cheryl shocked Mel with her request, “Can you help me paralyze someone without killing him?”  
 
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Cheryl went on to explain that she was an author and needed to paralyze a character in the book she was working on. Mel, a board-certified ER physician with a degree in osteopathy, was happy to assist. This was Mel's introduction to the world of fiction and Cheryl’s introduction to medicine. They were both fascinated, and a year and a half later they were married.

The couple established a pen name that rightfully distinguished the two sides of their writing. After more than a decade of marriage, they have written more than a dozen books as Hannah Alexander and have garnered a Christy award for their work.

The following is a January 2014 interview with Cheryl.

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AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW


Be in to win a copy of
Keeping Faith
by Hannah Alexander


5 copies to be won

Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.

Contest runs from 24 January - 7 February NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself. 

First of all, we are Mel and Cheryl Hodde who use a pen name to show that we work together on our novels as one. We collaborate on novels specifically written for Christians who like a little taste of medicine, a good romance, and often some suspense. We have chosen the pen name of Hannah Alexander because I identify with childless Hannah of the Bible, because I never gave birth. Mel chose Alexander because one meaning for that name is servant of mankind. Mel wishes to serve mankind in his career as a physician.

We are presently building patient population in our small, hometown clinic. Mel has been an emergency physician for 22 years, and finally decided to move into family practice. My writing time has taken a hit because the clinic is keeping us both busy-Mel as the sole physician in the clinic during the week while he continues to work in local emergency departments on weekends to supplement our income. We never knew building a clinic would change our lives so completely. Our staff is amazing, however, and have taken a great deal of work off my shoulders.

Mel has helped me with every novel we've had published, but as we like to remind each other, he's the doctor in the family, I'm the novelist. Neither of us wants to switch jobs. I get too queasy, and though Mel loves words and is a better speller than I, he realizes it took me fourteen years of writing and study to learn the craft well enough to sell; he's not interested in studying for a second career. He loves being a doctor, and since he's entered family practice, I wish we'd done this sooner. I get him home with me every night, he's happier, and he recently told me that he's finding his compassion again. He loves people, and caring for the needs of our local citizens has become one of the most fulfilling things in his life. I'm sure that now that his career has taken such a drastic turn--from fast-paced, stressful, night-shift-day-shift ER, to the regular hours of clinical practice--I'll be writing more stories about the life of a family practice doctor, as I once did about ER personnel. Mel will help me edit my work and give me input for the medical scenes.


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

I got the storytelling gene from my father. Daddy was a quiet man except when we were sitting at the dinner table at night, and Daddy would start telling stories about his day, or about his experiences in the past. As a child I found myself laughing out loud or crying with the power of his stories. As a teen I remember wishing he would wind down sooner, but now I look back and appreciate the stories he shared, especially since I sometimes tend to be long-winded, myself. My mother had an affinity for words and spelling, so she passed that on to me. When Hannah Alexander began to publish and sell, my mother was our staunchest supporter.

I sat down to write my first novel in an attempt to distract myself from a particularly powerful temptation in my life when I was twenty-nine years old. The Bible teaches to reject temptation and it will go away, and I knew what I was tempted to do was absolutely wrong, and would hurt a lot of people. I never looked back after that day, the temptation went away, and I wrote from then on. So my first novel was an escape for me from a lifetime of bad choices. It was my turn-around point. I never dreamed that one choice would enrich my life so completely.


What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

My readers appreciate being able to purchase a Hannah Alexander novel and know that there will be no graphic depiction of a love scene, that the romances I write are more about spiritual and emotional attraction, that they won't read language that offends them. What's important to me about Christian fiction, however, is the encouragement I receive in my spiritual walk with Christ. I've written many an email to a favorite novelist who has touched my life with encouragement and hope. Christian novelists are called to write to different audiences. Some are called to write to the unbeliever, some to the believer, some to those who have drifted away from a close walk with God. Many of these novels overlap. To me, the most important Christian novel is one that makes me see myself or my faith in a different light, or challenges me.

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

With gratefulness. I want to be able to touch hearts with hope and the joy of life, and the knowledge that this world isn't all we have to look forward to, that we all struggle and fail, and that God loves us despite all.


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

Before Sacred Trust was ever released in the late nineties, I received a call from our editor, and he was in tears. He said, "Cheryl, I just wanted you and Mel to know that your book saved my daughter's life." He explained that he had just completed editing a section of the manuscript in which one of our young characters nearly dies from anaphylactic shock from a bee-sting. His daughter attended a party during which she drank apple juice. She developed the same symptoms as our character, and so our editor recognized anaphylactic shock, got her daughter to the ER, and was told he got her there just in time. Before our first book was published, we were credited with saving a young life. That was a dramatic, wonderful reaction to one of our books.

How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

That's a wonderful question, and a difficult one to answer, since I've been a novelist for so long. I don't know what my walk with Christ would be like if I did something else for a living. Mel's a doctor, and his influence on a patient's life can be a powerful one, but even though God uses him for good, that doesn't mean his work necessarily affects his spiritual walk with God. We have each prayed many times to be used by God. I believe He does that. I walk with Christ, talk to Him every day, thank Him, love Him, and the way I worship Him best, I think, is through my writing, in that I attempt to make it my best to glorify Him. However, if I worked as a receptionist in our clinic, or as a nurse, or a clerk in a store, a factory worker, I would still want God to use me in whatever way He sees fit.

I was complaining to God one day because I struggle with physical pain often. His answer to me one day a few weeks ago was to remind me that I'd asked to be used by Him. Who's to say my suffering isn't what He wants to use in my life? Maybe Mel can learn from my struggle, and figure out how to help many patients, and because he is a Christian, draw them to Christ? We never know how God will use us, or what we would be doing without what He's placed into our lives. All we have to do is be open to Him, and His touch, no matter our calling.

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

First of all, I want to write my first great novel, since I've never considered any of my novels great. In those novels, I want to show God's love for mankind. My goal, truly, is to live well and to be used by God so others can also live well.


What do you like to do in your spare time? 

What I would love to be able to do in my spare time is go hiking again. Lately I don't have the strength I used to have to go on a quick, ten-mile hike in the forest. These days I'm good for maybe four miles, if that. I love to read, I love to spend time with Mel, and right now that means waiting until he gets home, and we watch our favorite shows together on Netflix. Who'd have ever thought we would become couch potatoes? But right now we are. When and if I get my strength back, I want to start hiking again, and I'd love for Mel to go with me.


What can you tell us about your latest novels? 

I had a historical release in September of 2013 entitled Keeping Faith about a widow and a wagon train captain in pursuit of the heroine's killer as they rush to the rescue of a group of slaves in danger. In June of 2014 a suspense entitled Collateral Damage is due for release. It's set in my favorite place, an historical park called Jolly Mill, which the park directors have allowed me to populate with a village of what I hope will be interesting characters.

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

I have a series of novels in mind the I am working on.  I only have half the series down right now, but it's my next project. It's complicated women's fiction set in a small, fictitious town along the Missouri River, and as usual its cast of characters include several physicians, some romances, lots of animals, and a medical school and hospital around which the town is built. The first book is due to be released this May, entitled Hallowed Halls.


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

We're watching Lord of the Rings, extended version, right now, and so we're totally in love with the beauty of New Zealand! I think these are my favorite films of all time.


Do you have any parting words?

Whatsoever things your hands find to do, do them with all your might, as unto the Lord. Your work, no matter what it is, can glorify God if you will only ask.


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Season of Danger

Good tidings for Christmas and a lethal New Year

Silent Night, Deadly Night by Hannah Alexander

After sabotage strikes the Vance Rescue Mission, volunteer Sean Torrance tries to guarantee the mission a safe Christmas. But can Sean protect Tess Vance when the sabotage becomes poisonous—with Tess as the target?

Mistletoe Mayhem by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Holiday cheer turns chilling in Abbottsville, Tennessee, as danger infects humans and animals. Local vet Kelly Granger knows health inspector Matt Bennett is chasing the wrong target, and will face any danger to show him the truth. Even if working with Matt means risking her life…and her heart.



Purchase Season of Danger
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]


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Eye of the Storm

After one of her patients is murdered, Dr. Megan Bradley has to get away. Away from the crime she saw but couldn't prevent, and away from missionary Gerard Vance, who almost made her trust in love again. 

Shaken and scared, Megan flees to the one place she can heal—her small Missouri hometown. She never expected Gerard to follow her…--or for danger to find her again. 

When they discover a murderer lurks in town, Megan will need strength from Gerard—and the Lord—to save lives. Including their own.


Purchase Eye of the Storm
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]


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Keeping Faith

A Woman on a Mission

The wagon train ride from Missouri to Kansas territory is rife with perils. But there are bigger obstacles for Dr. Victoria Fenway than cholera or creek floods. Years ago, she and wagon-train captain Joseph Rickard were deeply in love. Now, Victoria is tracking the man who killed her late husband, and she is determined to continue his work rescuing slaves. She can't allow herself to fall for Joseph again—not when he abandoned her once before.

Joseph told Victoria he'd love her forever, and he's been as good as his word. Misunderstanding led to her marrying another man. But with dangerous slavers on their trail, he'll do anything to keep her safe until they reach a new home—and a second chance.


Purchase Keeping Faith
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]



Buy Hannah Alexander's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Be in to win a copy of
Keeping Faith
by Hannah Alexander


5 copies to be won
Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 24 January - 7 February NZDT



Please comment about the interview, or leave a message for Hannah Alexander when making a blog post comment. Simply commenting about entering the draw or wanting to win the books does not qualify for valid entry into the draw. 

All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter contest to be eligible for drawing. Winning entries drawn will have their entry options validated before being accepted - if incomplete another entry will be drawn.


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