Monday, May 26, 2014

Featured Debut Novelist: Jolina Petersheim

Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013.

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She holds degrees in English and communication arts from the University of the Cumberlands, and her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with The Tennessean's "On Nashville" blog roll, and she also blogs weekly with four other bestselling novelists at Southern Belle View.

Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter.


The following is  May 2014 interview with Jolina.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
AT THE END 
OF 
THE INTERVIEW



Be in to win a copy each of 
The Outcast and The Midwife
by Jolina Petersheim


One set to be won
Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 23 May - 6 June NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I enjoy cooking but hate following recipes. I love thrift-store shopping for treasures, like hard backed books with deckled pages and too small Italian shoes. I have known my husband since I was fifteen, but I tried to match him up with my best friend in the world, who I have known since I was two.

My husband and I share a Plain background that originated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but we actually met here, in the mountains of Tennessee. (Our fathers even attended the same Mennonite high school.) We met at church through my husband’s formerly Amish grandfather, Amos Stoltzfus, who encouraged my family to visit. Grandpa Amos was a wonderful, lively man, and I partly based my character in The Outcast, Amos King, after him.


What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
Even before I knew how to write or read, I loved to sit on the stoop of our family’s porch and make up stories. Then I often tried to sing these stories to my long-suffering mother (I can’t really sing). Because of her and my father’s encouragement, the encouragement from my teachers, and my husband and friends, I am still telling stories today. Now that I am a mother, I encourage that storytelling tradition in my daughter’s life by reading to her before nap and bedtime. Who we are as adults is oftentimes shaped by what talents were encouraged when we were children.


What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

That it does more than tell a story well; Christian fiction holds the power to transform lives.

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How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 
I hope they will laugh, cry, and reflect on their own lives, finding healing for past hardships and forgiving those who have caused them pain.


What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist? 
I am an extrovert, stay-at-home mom who lives in the mountains of East Tennessee. Needless to say, on a day-to-day basis, I don’t get to see many people beyond my family. The heartfelt interaction with my online reading community is surprising and priceless, and I truly love that aspect of my job.


How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

It has made me cling to Him in a way I never have before; I want to remain a vessel the words pour out of, rather than trying to force them from my own conscious well.


Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life? 

I want to be the best wife and mother I possibly can be (again, this makes me cling to the Lord because I know I cannot do it all on my own strength). My family is the dearest thing to my heart, and I am so blessed to have them in my life. I would also eventually love to learn more about holistic medicine, canning, sewing, and other aspects of my Mennonite heritage that have been lost with time.


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What do you like to do in your spare time? 
I keep an audiobook in the car, a paperback in the diaper bag, a hardback next to the bathtub. I absorb words every chance I get because I love to read and because I know they make me a better writer. I also love to go for walks with my daughter and my cinder-colored Akita, Kashi. Sometimes, I come back more frazzled than when I left because one of them has misbehaved. But, for the most part, those walks are the highlight of my day.


What can you tell us about your debut novel? 

Short version:

The Outcast is a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter set in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee.

Long version:

Four years ago, a family member told a true story about the power of desire that was left unchecked and how it trickled down through an Old Order Mennonite family, not only affecting that generation, but the generations to come. We were all sitting around the kitchen, and after the person finished speaking, I gasped, “That’s a book!” But I did nothing about it. At the time, I was writing Southern fiction and did not want to surrender to “Amish fiction”—a genre my father always told me I should write.

However, a few years later, I was on the London Underground when a tall, stoop-shouldered man in a black suit stepped on board. My best friend and I recognized him as the person who was friends with the woman who was allowing us to stay in her flat. On the subway, this unsung poet and prophet spoke into my best friend’s life. Then later, on the double decker bus, he spoke into mine. He told me I would give up the manuscript I was currently working on and begin writing again. I didn’t know I would listen, but when I came home, I could not hear anything else. I put my current manuscript in a drawer and began writing a fictionalized version of the story that had been told to me. The unsung prophet of the London Underground is mentioned in the acknowledgements section of The Outcast.


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What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 
My sophomore novel, The Midwife, releases on June 1, and this story also has a special place in my heart.

Here is the summary, provided by Tyndale House, my publisher:

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.

Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.

Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.


What would you like to say to your upcoming fans in New Zealand and around the world?

Invite me to visit, I love to travel! Seriously, it’s been two years and ten months since I’ve been overseas, and though I miss the adventure, I know my place right now is with my dear little family. One day, though, I would love to visit beautiful New Zealand and all the other places that have captured my fancy over the years. Our world is just waiting to be explored. . . .


Do you have any parting words?

Any inspiring writers out there? Listen: never, ever give up! The afternoon I met my agent at an author reading, I was twelve weeks pregnant and had reconciled in my heart that it was time to set my writing dream aside. It seems that God was just waiting for my complete surrender to His plan in order to set my future career into motion. It is a dream come true to work from home and be with our daughter through every simple, exquisite moment.

And thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you today, Soul Inspirationz; what an honor to be here with you!


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The Outcast
by Jolina Petersheim
  • Tyndale House Publishers
  • Contemporary/Drama
  • 21 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781414379340

Purchase: 

[Kindle | Amazon | The Book Depository]


Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.

But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul. When the life of Rachel's baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.


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The Midwife
by Jolina Petersheim
  • Tyndale House Publishers
  • Contemporary/Drama
  • 1 June 2014
  • ISBN: 9781414379357

Purchase: 

[Kindle | Amazon | The Book Depository]


Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.

Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.

Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.



Buy Jolina'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 each of 
The Outcast 

and The Midwife
by Jolina Petersheim


One set to be won
Contest open to entrants 
with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 
23 May - 6 June NZDT


Please comment about the interview, or leave a message for Jolina Petersheim. 
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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