Interview with Author Jody Hedlund

Today I’m thrilled to have author and blogger Jody Hedlund joining me on The Happiness Project!

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. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011.

If you’ve never checked out Jody’s blog, it’s a fabulous site for writers with thought provoking posts and excellent resources and advice.

Jody’s here today answering questions about her writing and what she and the kiddos like to do in their free time.  But before we get to the interview, I want you to hear how wonderful her books are!

The Preacher’s Bride

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher–whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child–and man–she’s come to love.

The Doctor’s Lady

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

I think I read both of these books in about 4 days and it would’ve been one each had I not had a job to get to.  Her books are rich in history and tell the tales of the women who supported their catalyst men.  The Preacher’s Bride was a warm tale of relentless commitment of one family to do God’s work.  And The Doctor’s Lady (my favorite of the two) brings to life the harsh conditions of the Oregon Trail made by one of the first women to cross.

Now let’s hear from Jody!

What made you want to be a writer? Did you always know historical romance was the genre for you?

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. During my college and post-graduate years, I began to devour every book on writing that I could get my hands on. I filled note cards with all of the things I was learning, and I wrote numerous practice books.  After many twists and turns along the path, I’ve finally been able to channel my passion into a full time writing career.

At first I started writing contemporary fiction. But then I realized I really ought to be writing what I loved reading—which is historical romance. Besides, I’m a big history buff, so the research is a lot of fun for me.

What’s the biggest life lesson writing has taught you?

The writing life is full of many lessons, so it’s tough to pick just one! Probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that success comes in baby steps and that each tiny step is hard-earned.  In other words, most of us won’t have success served to us on a silver platter (as nice as that sounds!). Instead we have to go out and earn our bread and butter with back-breaking labor.

Your heroines are always kind, strong-willed, yet helpful women, how much of YOU goes into your protagonists?

Would it be conceited of me to say that those kind, strong-willed, helpful heroines reflect me one hundred percent? *grin* No, seriously, my heroines are the kind of women I aspire to be.

I think Eli Ernest looks like this. (photo courtesy swoonworthy.net) P.S. This picture makes no sense. Why is he shirtless wearing a sweater? Does it even matter with abs like that?

I envision your male leads to look something like Joe Manganiello, does your husband ever get jealous? 🙂

My husband is an easy-going kind of guy. And although he’s very proud of my books, he’s not the fiction-reader type. In the twenty years we’ve been married, I can count on one hand the number of fiction books he’s started (but never finished!).  So what he doesn’t know about my male leads won’t hurt him, right?

Do you think you’ll ever write your own memoir on life and love, like Elizabeth Gilbert or Julie Powell? I know I’d be interested in reading it!

Aw, thank you! At this point in my life, I don’t see myself branching out of fiction. It’s so much more exciting than real life. For all my non-fiction cravings, I get to spill out my thoughts and experiences and meanderings on my blog. But who knows, maybe someday, I’ll venture into more.

A big part of your blog is promoting and inspiring other writers. You even offer an in depth character worksheet you created. Who were the mentors and motivators in your journey towards publication?

My mentors were the many numerous writing craft books that I’ve read over the years. I’ve learned from so many other writers who’ve taken the time impart their wisdom. Up at the top of my list of favorite writing gurus is James Scott Bell. His book Plot & Structure is my writing bible.

If you weren’t writing, what other profession would you be doing?

Fulltime reader? Is there such a thing? *grin* I’d definitely take a fulltime reader job especially if it involved a comfy chair in a bookstore with an endless supply of rich coffee and gooey chocolate pastries.

You based your two novels on real historical stories of religious innovators and missionaries. If you could meet any historical person, dead or alive, who would you most like to talk to?

I’d love to meet some of the women I’ve written about both in books I’ve published and those that are yet to be published. The strong women from history fascinate me. History hasn’t always given proper recognition or prominence to many women of the past. We often hear about great men and the heroic things that they did. History (mostly recorded by men) often neglected to tell the stories about the wives that stood beside some of these great men, the women who faced danger and deprivation and were just as heroic in their own way.

What’s your favorite vacation spot? Or what is your dream vacation spot?

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.

My children on the other hand don’t have as much patience for my appetite for history. So I’d love to take them hiking in the Rockies or to Yellowstone.

What holiday do you and the kids get most excited about?

I get excited about any holiday that involves chocolate, which incidentally is most of the holidays since I’ve been able to condition my family on the utmost importance of giving chocolate. And my kids get excited about any holiday that involves getting presents. Go figure!

What do you do when you’re not writing, teaching the kids, folding laundry, and/or cooking? What hobbies or talents do you still hope to try?

I hope to get better at sleeping. No seriously, this last year I’ve made it my goal to try to take as good of care of my body as I do my mind. So I’ve added the E-word (Exercise) to my packed daily schedule. And I’m actually finding that I’m really liking exercising.

Where can readers find you?
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com

The fun’s not over yet!  Jody has graciously offered to give away a copy of her new book, The Doctor’s Lady, to one reader!  Drop a line in the comments and you’re entered to win!  Chat with you all below!

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34 responses

  1. Hi Jess, hi Jody,

    Jody I love reading and writing but my husband never, ever reads what I write. Isn’t it strange? We’ve been married almost twenty years too and have four kids. I’ve had two short stories pubbed, he never even looked at them although I know he’s proud of me.

    Your books look beautiful, both with exciting premises and I intend to read your work.

    1. I’m betting you’ve tried this but have you asked him to read your work? If he knows how important it is to you he may try. otherwise you could write him in as a character. that’ll make him curious! 😉

  2. I admire Jody’s passion and relate to her aspirations—to write strong characters she’d like to be and to sleep better. LOL (Common threat among writers!)

    I don’t read much historical fiction, but this chat has me sold. Adding her work to my to-read list. Thanks for the great interview!

    1. It was the picture of Joe Manganiello wasn’t it? I don’t blame you. LOL

      The women in Jody’s novels really require their own blog post because on the outside, due to the historical times they were living in, seem demure and passive. Yet, these women are incredibly strong and persevere so much (a trait all those who read the happiness project know I’m a fan of!)

      Of the two leading ladies, Priscilla from Doctor’s Lady is my fave because I loved the history of the Oregon Trail and Jody did an awesome job making the very dangerous voyage real and scary for the first travelers.

  3. Love, love, love Jody Hedlund and her books. I devoured both of them and I can’t wait for the third to be pubbed!
    Jess, Jody’s blog was my go-to resource when I was first learning about writing, and when I had learned a lot it was my comfort zone.

    Joanna Penn did a great video interview with Jody last July (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/07/15/historical-romance-jody-hedlund/) in case any of your readers would like to see Jody and hear her voice as she talks about historical fiction. I loved it! Felt like I had really met her.
    Hi, Jody! Count me in again for your next blog tour!
    Thanks for hosting Jody, Jess. Great interview!

    1. Woohoo! Thanks for the link! That’ll be my treat tonight when I’m home from book club.

      Jody is amazing. I love the questions she poses on her writing blog because she never leaves out the heart that’s involved with the writing. And she is the epitome of giving back and reaching out to new authors with info and excitement. That is priceless! I’m so blessed to have her joining me today!

  4. Great interview girls.

    I haven’t read the Preacher’s Bride – after this interview I’m off to download it. I’m way behind on my TBR pile. Your passion for the subject and writing comes across to the reader. You’re another incredibly generous author who pays it forward.

    Interesting, Jodi, that you mention James Scott Bell. Everyone who knows me will tell you I mention him every chance I get. His Plot & Structure and Revision & Self Editing along with The Art of War for Writers is on my desk as I type. He’s a true inspiration.

    If you want castles you need to go to Scotland. There are plenty of ruins that the kids would love, very atmospheric. Another place is Spain they have about 2,500 in the Castilla region heavily influenced by the Moors, the kids would love it.

    Funny you should mention Joe Manganiello, Jess, because he’s the inspiration for my hero too – great minds! No idea why he’s wearing a sweater either:)

    1. I’ll have to check out Bell’s book now for sure!

      Joe Manganiello is an excellent source for character inspiration. I mean, I’m looking at his photo being inspired right now!…

      *Oops, just fainted there for a minute.*

      Thanks for sharing your writing tips on Bell too, CC, and for the travel advice. I’m an adventure fan myself. I’ve been to the castles of Ireland but not Scotland or Spain, would love to go sometime! Next up is South Korea for me!

  5. How exciting! I haven’t read The Doctor’s Lady yet, but as someone who’s been watching your writing for a while now, it is on my TBR list.

    Thanks for the great interview, Jess!!

    1. Glad you commented! Perhaps we’ll remedy that fact about not reading it yet. 🙂

  6. sandisthoughtsandreviews | Reply

    Wonderful interview. I would love to win a copy of Jody’s book
    slc925@yahoo.com

    1. If you’re on goodreads, be sure to check them out. They’re wonderful and romantic and adventurous! Perfect trifecta!

  7. Thanks for sharing with us, Jody. I love historical fiction and look forward to more of your books

    1. Be sure to check out her website too with writing advice and book info. She even has an adorable scrolling photo album of readers with her book. I think that’s too cute!

  8. I love historical fiction and since I’ve become aware of Jody through blogging both of her books are on my TBR pile. Thanks for this informative post!

    1. You’re another lady who writes about real, strong women! I think you and Jody would love one another! Glad you stopped by today! *crosses fingers for ya*

  9. I loved The Preachers Bride! And hope to read The Doctors Lady soon!

    1. Doctor’s Lady was my favorite of the two, but I’m a sucker for an Oregon Trail story with a rebellious missionary man/cowboy who is also a doctor…I’m kind of accident prone. 😉

  10. I love reading about Jody and her books and would be very happy if I won a copy of the Doctor’s Lady. Great interview Jess.

    1. I think what makes Jody so fun to chat with is that is really available. She avidly participates with her readers and commentors and it makes it more fun. Plus, who doesn’t love a good history buff? The research is half the fun!

  11. heatherdaygilbert | Reply

    OOH, would love to win a book! I always find your advice so helpful, Jody. Already following you on twitter. I haven’t read your books yet, but I heard The Doctor’s Lady starts out in Angelica, NY, and we lived about 10 minutes from there in upstate NY for about 6 years. My husband’s family still lives there and it’s a beautiful area (YES, there is more to NY state than NYC!). Great post, nice to get to know you better!

    1. One of the pictures on Jody’s blog of her readers with her book is them at a historical site in the book! I thought that was so cool. Of course, I’m the fanatic who made a road trip to Circus World after reading Water for Elephants, where the author began her research. Love that kind of thing!

      Thanks for sharing, Heather!

  12. I can’t wait to read Doctor’s lady. It is on my TBR pile.

    1. It is phenomenal. You might suffer side effects of dreaming about Joe Mang…I mean, Eli Ernest. 😉

  13. I’m excited about the plot of The Doctor’s Lady! I’ve been craving an inspirational romance and it’s been years since I read a novel about journeying west. As a child, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and The Oregon Trail was one of two video games that I played. (The other game was Math Blaster!) It sounds like Jody Hedlund has carved out a wonderful niche for herself by writing inspirational historical romance novels based on little-known real women.

    1. I am so with you Justine! LOL Loved Oregon Trail the video game. But I also read all those Dear America books as a pre-teen and I loved the one about Hattie Campbell journeying the Oregon Trail. I still remember how she had to put axel grease (or was it lard?) one of those on her lips to combat the chapping because it was like a constant dust bowl with all those wagons going through.

  14. I absolutely loved “The Doctor’s Lady”. I could not put it down. Luckily, I am a teacher on spring break this week and did not have to stop reading until the very end. I skipped a pedicure to finish the book. I would love to win a free copy of this fantastic novel. The copy I read was from the library. GREAT JOB JODY!

    1. Now that’s a fan letter! Woohoo!

  15. Karen McFarland | Reply

    Jess, I must say what a wonderful interview you conduct! That was awesome!

    I love historical fiction and Jody is amazing! Thank you for sharing your craft and your love for chocolate, I mean historical fiction. lol

    And yes, you must travel to Europe. You will love the castles. Scotland has the most beautiful castles and then Germany. Take the kids if they’re old enough and you can afford it. You won’t regret it. There’s so much to learn from other cultures. Anyway, just a thought.

    Thank you so much for this interview! 🙂

    1. Thank you for the enthusiasm Karen! Love reading all these comments and little did I expect TRAVEL IDEAS!!! 🙂

      I’m a historical fiction fan too and The Doctor’s Lady is amazing for that. I especially love Jody’s notes at the end though where she divulges her research and bits of the real woman she’s characterizing. Very cool.

  16. HEY EVERYONE! JODY HAS TRIED SEVERAL TIMES TO LEAVE COMMENTS AND WORDPRESS IS NOT COOPERATING. SO SHE ASKED ME TO PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO YOU:

    “Hey everyone!! Thanks for all of the very sweet comments today! And thanks for having me on your blog today, Jess! You have a wonderful following and great community here!

    FYI: For those who have Kindles, The Doctor’s Lady is on sale right now for only 2.99 as part of an Amazon deal! So make sure you snag a copy!”

    THANK YOU TO JODY FOR BEING A PART OF THE HAPPINESS PROJECT AND SHARING HER INSIGHT WITH SO MANY OF US ABOUT BEING A WRITER, MOTHER, WOMAN, AND ALL AROUND AMAZING PERSON!

  17. […] of March.  My upscale in reading led to two author interviews for Shifting by Bethany Wiggins and The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund!  It was an absolute treat to get to chat with these phenomenal women!  I also felt a big push to […]

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