Jody Hedlund is one on my favourite authors! I love her characters, the romance and historical story line. So, I thought reading about Jody would be fun…..
Bio ~ Jody 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she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).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.
Jody has five children ranging in ages from 15 to 6, with a set of twin daughters in the mix to make things more lively. She spends the major part of each day teaching her children at home. When not teaching, she’s either writing or folding laundry and wondering why there are so many missing socks. Her theory? A sock monster lives under the kids’ beds and steals them when no one’s looking. The alternate theory? The dog eats them.
1. What inspired you to write The Doctor’s Lady, Unending Devotion and A Noble Groom?
I’ve always loved history. And I’ve always loved reading historical romances. But it wasn’t until I began homeschooling my children and teaching them history that my imagination turned on and I began to see story possibilities in everything we were reading and learning.
During the course of our history lessons, I began to learn a lot about some of the great heroes of the faith. I was particularly fascinated by the wives of these great heroes, especially those who were long forgotten by our modern world, women who had stood by their husband’s sides during dangerous times and had helped shape those men into the heroes they became. I wanted to bring these women to life for our modern generation. Those are the women in my inspired-by stories: The Preacher’s Bride, The Doctor’s Lady, and Rebellious Heart.
My other books are centered around Michigan history. Since I live in central Michigan, I’ve had the privilege of showcasing the rich lumber and farm era of my state through Unending Devotion and A Noble Groom.
2. How do you go about developing each of your characters? Are there any in particular that you enjoyed the most?
I use an extensive character worksheet that I’ve developed (and made available on my website!). Before I start writing the first draft of a book, I literally spend days filling in the worksheet and getting to every detail about my characters. One of my favorite heroes so far is Carl from A Noble Groom because he’s so sweet and caring and funny.
3. How do you name each character? I can only imagine how difficult it could be.
Yes, the process of coming up with names is quite complicated and I generally take a lot of elements into consideration. I keep a running list of all the heroes and heroines of my books and try not to duplicate anything too closely to a name I’ve already used. I also look at names used doing the time period of each book along with the ethnicity of my characters. For example, in A Noble Groom, I chose German names that were commonly used during the 1800’s. Sometimes I consider symbolism for names. Other times, particularly in my inspired by stories, I try to pick a name that is similar to the character from history that I’m portraying.
4. If you were able to meet any of your characters who would it be?
I’d probably like to have dinner with Mrs. Smith Susanna’s mother from Rebellious Heart just so that I could argue with her about the importance of educating women. Of course, like many women of her day, she didn’t believe women needed an education. As was the custom, the mothers homeschooled their young children in the basics of reading and writing and math. Boys were then given the privilege of going on to a local school or having tutor (if from a wealthy family). But girls weren’t so lucky. After the initial homeschooling from the moms in a dame school (held mostly in kitchens), girls weren’t allowed in any of the formal schools (or at least very rarely).
I’d love to sit down with Mrs. Smith (and Reverend Smith) and present to them all the reasons why girls deserve and equal education to that of boys! Wouldn’t they be surprised if they could step into our time today and see women as lawyers, doctors, and ministers?
I can just imagine their shock! 🙂 I often wonder about that myself….
5. Out of all your books, which is your favourite and what was so exciting to write about it?
I actually love them all! I always fall in love with a book and the characters as I’m writing, so that each book ends up holding a special place in my heart.
6. When stumbling upon writer’s block, how do you go about overcoming it?
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.
7. Is there a favourite place you like to write?
Most days I sit in my big kitchen and write at a tiny counter desk where I’m able to keep my eyes and ears on all that’s going on around me. That way I can see when the dog is about to eat another sock, put a halt to my youngest riding down the steps in laundry baskets, and make sure my daughters are practicing piano diligently (rather than getting up to get a snack every few minutes). Of course, this is all hypothetical. None of this ever happens. And my writing time is always quiet and peaceful as my children go about their work without needing any of my intervention. *Wink*
I actually do my best writing in my office, which is upstairs away from the noise and chaos. But I don’t get to retreat there very often, just a few times a week for extended writing time.
Most of the time, I plug in headphones, put on Pandora, and write no matter what’s going on around me. I’ve had to learn to just do it and not wait for the perfect moment.
8. You are given the opportunity to travel anywhere. Where would it be? Likewise, what language would you most like to learn?
I’d love to take a research trip to England or Germany and visit castles. I know my husband would enjoy going too and would put up with my obsessive need to read about and study all the historical details of everything I come across. Since I already have a foundation in German (from my high school days), I’d love to learn more and be able to speak it on my dream vacation!
9. When did you discover your passion for writing?
Like many writers, I’ve been writing since my childhood days. I always loved telling stories. When I was in junior high, I entered my first writing contest for a Biblical fiction story. And when I won, I realized God had indeed gifted me. I think that was when I became more serious about wanting to be a writer when I grew up.
However, as I began my college years, I quickly realized that creative writing wasn’t a career track that would help pay the bills. For a time, God moved me into social work. I went on to get my masters and was thankful for the experiences and opportunities I had during those years of helping underprivileged people.
10. You must find it difficult trying to find the balance between being a mum, author, teacher and speaker. How do you find the time to write?
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. In fact, my three oldest kids are each responsible for cooking one evening meal a week! And last but certainly not least, I rely upon my mom for lots of help too. She helps homeschool, cook meals, and even takes my youngest daughter to ballet every week.
11. Any words of encouragement for those pursuing being an author?
Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you’re ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.
Basically writing is like any other profession: we can’t succeed unless we achieve mastery of the subject. And how does one achieve writing mastery? We need to learn everything we can about the craft of writing and then put it into practice. In other words, learn, learn, learn. Write, write, write. Repeat ad infinitum.
12. Is there anything in particular you wish to excite us readers about your latest book Rebellious Heart?
I was really interested in writing another story inspired by a famous couple from history similar to my books, The Preacher’s Bride and The Doctor’s Lady. So I compiled a list of various couples that I thought had unique courtships and fascinating lives.
During the course of my research, I came across several biographies regarding John and Abigail Adams. As I read more about them, I realized that the stories about how they met and courted would make a wonderful book, especially because they faced numerous obstacles in their quest for love.
As most history buffs know, John and Abigail Adams had a wonderful marriage full of love and friendship. They penned numerous letters to one another during their lifetime. Although much has been recorded of their marriage, very little has been written about their early days and courtship. I thought it would be fascinating to bring them to life for our modern generation.
13. What is your favourite food?
My favorite non-sweet food is nachos and cheese. My favorite sweet snack depends on my mood. Of course I like chocolate! But I also occasionally like pie (particularly Apple, Blueberry, Cherry pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company which is just around the corner from my house!).
14. Do you have a favourite animal? Have you got any pets?
I adore cats and always have. In fact, some might even call me a crazy cat lady because I have four cats! I also have a Golden Retriever who may or may not believe she is also a cat.
Make sure to visit her webiste: http://jodyhedlund.com/ I know I enjoyed my visit 🙂