Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interview with Best-Selling Author, Jody Hedlund



I remember stumbling upon Jody Hedlund's blog prior to her first book release. This amazingly talented lady is now the author of three historical romance novels -- with more on the way! It's my pleasure to introduce you to Jody and to share her most recent release, Unending Devotion.

Maria: Hi Jody! So glad you could join us today. Tell us a bit about yourself:

Jody: I'm a chocolate-lover, coffee-guzzler, avid reader, passionate writer, busy mom of five, and wife to my college sweet-heart for over twenty years.

Maria: Wow! Sounds like there's plenty to keep you busy. Give us a glimpse into an ordinary day at your house:

Jody: I'm not sure that we have any ordinary days in our crazy house! Since I homeschool my children, our home is usually very busy and noisy. I spend most of my day teaching my children. Then once we're done with our school time, I try to squeeze in a little writing. As my children are getting older and are involved in more extracurricular activities, I've also become a taxi mom and an expert at juggling a busy schedule!

Maria: From the sound of it, you've mastered your busy schedule. As an established author, what is your favorite part of the writing process?

Jody: As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I've ever written.

Maria: Let's talk about your recent release, Unending Devotion. Being a Michigan girl myself, I could identify with the setting of this story. But I have to admit, I was unaware of the devastating effects of the lumber industry. Share a brief summary of what your research revealed:

Jody: During my research for the book, I began reading biographies about people who lived during the lumber era. And as I did, I ran across stories of young women who didn't fit into the glamorized legends and songs that we usually associate with the lumber era.

The stories of many of these women were much darker. They're tales of women who were abused, exploited, and even enslaved.

Unending Devotion is inspired by one of those women, Jennie King. She rode a train into central Michigan in answer to a newspaper ad for a job. She expected to work in a hotel. Instead she found herself enslaved in a brothel. She fled, but was recaptured and beaten. The brave and desperate woman escaped again, wearing only a nightgown, and this time gained help from a local family. The brothel owner tried to get her back again. But the family helped smuggle Jennie out of town and to a safe place.

Maria: I know one of your hopes in writing this book, was to heighten awareness of the issue of white slavery (forced prostitution) during the lumber era. Unfortunately, this is still a problem in our generation. Lily Young was willing to stem the tide of evil in her day. How can we get involved in combating this type of slavery today?
 

Jody: I actually have several organizations listed on my website that are helping to increase awareness of the problem and fight against it, and I'm donating part of the proceeds from UnendingDevotion to help stop trafficking. One of the organizations I have listed is World Vision. They work directly with victims rescued from a life of trafficking. They give hope to young girls by offering  assistance like medical care, nutritious food, non-formal education, vocational training, compassionate counseling, and, where possible, reintegration into a loving family environment. To learn more visit World Vision’s website.

Maria: What a positive way to make a difference! I applaud your personal efforts to be part of the solution.  I was drawn to both of your main characters, Lily Young and Connell McCormick. How would they describe themselves?

Jody: Because Lily was an orphan growing up, she would say she has a heart for the under-privileged. She's very caring and wants to save everyone and everything. On the other hand, she often doesn't stop to think before she acts. She's rather impetuous and rash which leads her to rush headlong into trouble.


Connell's father is a lumber baron who has made millions off lumbering. As manager of several of his father's lumber camps, Connell has a sense of loyalty and duty to his father's thriving business. He works hard and is determined to make his father proud of his efforts. Amidst all of the lawlessness and evil that surrounds him in the lumber towns, he figures as long as he leads an upstanding life, that's all that matters.



Maria: Do you purposely weave your own personality traits into your characters, or do you develop your characters with traits you'd like to possess?

Jody: While each of my characters are unique with no intention of replicating myself or any one person I know, each book does bring out my passion for helping the underprivileged. I usually have a heroine who is fighting against social ills of some kind. And I always seem to have a minor character struggling through timeless issues like poverty, exploitation, abuse, etc. Since I have a masters in Social Work, I guess it's inevitable that I would weave in characters struggling against social ills.

Maria: I can definitely see the parallel. I know you must have another book in the works. Can you give us a sneak peek?

Jody: My next book (releasing in April 2013) is A Noble Groom. It's another Michigan book set among a rural immigrant faming community which is facing discrimination, drought, and then the Great Fire of 1881.

The story starts with recently widowed Annalisa Werner having the feeling her husband was murdered but being unable to prove it. Alone with her young daughter, 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 Reichart, 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 manuel labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl 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.


Maria: Fascinating plot! I can already tell I'll be adding your next title to my "To Be Read" list! What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Jody: I recently ran across a pin over on Pinterest which said: "Your dream doesn't have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again." I think that's inspiring for all of us whether we're writers or pursuing some other dream. We don't need to be in a hurry. We just need to keep working and trying.

Maria: I love that thought, Jody! Very encouraging. Thanks so much for stopping by today. And I look forward to reading many more of your books! God bless you~

Great news! Jody has graciously agreed to give away a signed copy of her book, Unending Devotion.

*Leave a comment to this post, include your email address in the following format: morgan(dot)maria(dot)i(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without an email address are not eligible.

*Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you're already a follower.

*Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Please be sure and let me know you did so in your comment.

*This is open to US residents only. My sincere apology to those followers outside the US.

*Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Tuesday, November 20th, 2012. Winner to be announced in Thursday's post. The winner will be notified via email.


Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Publishers Weekly called her newest book Unending Devotion, " a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:


19 comments:

  1. My book club has had the priviledge of talking to Jody via Skype after reading her first two books. She amazed us in her ability to jungle so much and keep all the ball of life balanced. And we enjoyed learning about how woman thrived in historical situations. I look forward to reading her latest. Thank you for the interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to see you Lynn! How neat that your book club was able to 'meet' Jody via Skype. She is definitely one incredible woman when it comes to time management!

      I'll enter you in the drawing for Unending Devotion and maybe you'll be reading her latest before you know it! Have a blessed day. Hugs!

      Delete
  2. It's wonderful to see Jody here! Great interview, ladies! I loved Unending Devotion (so no need to enter me in the giveaway:) and cannot wait until Jody's next book comes out. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen! Glad you enjoyed the interview & have already been swept away by Unending Devotion! Right there with you waiting on the release of A Noble Groom. Have a fantastic weekend Karen! God bless you my friend! :)

      Delete
  3. I'm a transplanted Michigander now living in the south. Would love to read a book set in my home state!

    Patty
    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to Life Lessons Patty! Thanks for leaving a comment. I'm also a former Michigander living in the sunny state of Georgia now. I've entered you for the drawing for Jody's book! God bless!

      Delete
  4. Jody is an inspiration to all of us still working our way towards publication while juggling the commitments of everyday life. She values her family priorities and still manages to make the time to craft beautifully written stories.

    I have all of her books, so no need to enter me in the draw (I live in Canada anyway).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to Life Lessons Carol! Your absolutely right about Jody! She's definitely an inspiration. Keep working toward publication! Enjoy this beautiful week. God bless~

      Delete
  5. Hi Ladies,

    Thanks for swinging by everyone! I appreciate all of your support! And a big thank you to Maria for hosting me today on her lovely blog!

    Hugs!

    Jody

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm a big Aussie fan of Jody Hedlund :) Can't wait to read another of her books. Thanks for the interview Maria. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dottie! Neat to see how Jody's work has spanned the continents! Her stories are gripping and powerful. Have a wonderful week my friend! God bless you and yours! :)

      Delete
  7. You've sold me! Fellow Michigander here, homeschooling mom, aspiring author, and sought a degree in Social Work in college...this book sounds like a perfect fit and I loved reading this interview! Great to meet you Jody. I have seen this book around but haven't had a chance to read it. It's now at the top of my pile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to see you Susan! Love all the fellow Michiganders chiming in! Wow - sounds like you and Jody have lots in common! I know her book will not disappoint! Did you want me to enter you in the drawing? There's still time! God bless~

      Delete
  8. What a great interview. Thanks so much. I had seen her first book...and now plan to buy and read it. I would love to win this second one. I am a follower of your blog, and although I do not always comment I sure enjoy it.
    Elaine
    joynmyhrt@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful to see you Elaine! Glad you enjoyed the interview. Jody is a phenomenal lady - and uber talented! I've entered you in the drawing for Jody's book, Unending Devotion! Thanks for your comment. God bless~

      Delete
  9. I have read Jody's first two book and am anxious to read this one and now, after reading the plot for the next book, that one as well. I have no idea how she can find time to write with everything she has going on. I only have 1 son, a 15 month old, and I still have a hard time finding opportunities to put words on a page. What an encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to Life Lessons Sarah! So glad you stopped by and left a comment! Sounds like you've got your hands full with that little guy! If you love to write, keep pursuing your dream. Have a wonderful week & God bless!

      Delete
  10. Jody's latest book is on my TBR pile. I'm looking forward to getting lost in her story. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fantastic to see you Susan! I'm sure you'll love Jody's latest book! Hope you have a wonderful week full of God's blessings! :)

      Delete