Welcome Author, Jody Hedlund

“We aren’t just fighting a battle for religious freedoms…[w]e’re struggling for human liberty as well.”
~ From The Preacher’s Bride, by Jody Hedlund

*****

Writers are compelled to categorize novels into genres. We can’t help ourselves, since it’s one of the signs of a good query. But a skilled author will write a novel that stretches beyond the limits of genre.

A great story captures readers from outside one set audience, anchors them into the lives of the characters, and makes them forget they’re reading Historical or Women’s or Christian Fiction.

Jody Hedlund’s debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, is that type of story.

Based on details from the life of John Bunyan (the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress), The Preacher’s Bride is rooted in the Christian Faith. However, readers who might not normally be interested in Christian Fiction will still find Jody Hedlund’s novel compelling.

Hedlund weaves struggles with religion, class, and politics in and around an irresistible love story between John Costin and Elizabeth Whitebread — two kindred spirits who fight for their beliefs and convictions, no matter what the cost.

Once I dipped into chapter one of The Preacher’s Bride, I began to steal moments during my day to read more — to find out what might become of mean Mrs. Grew, to look for clues about the mysterious man in the black hat, to encounter the next moment when John and Elizabeth stood in the same room. Hedlund’s descriptions of those moments between John and Elizabeth, along with deeper conflicts that surround their daily existence, lends such power to the story that I simply didn’t want to put The Preacher’s Bride down.

Today, I am honored to host Jody Hedlund here, as she answers a few questions about her debut novel and her writing. For a chance to win an autographed copy of The Preacher’s Bride, just leave a comment at the end of the interview.

*****

CC: In the Author’s Note in The Preacher’s Bride, you mention that history “fails to recognize the woman who stood by [John Bunyan’s] side and helped shape him into the hero we all know and love.” How and when did you discover that Elizabeth Bunyan had her own story to tell?

Jody Hedlund

JH: During the course of teaching my children world history, I began to learn more about some of the great heroes of all times—especially faith heroes. I was particularly fascinated with the little-known women who helped shape the great men. These wives were strong, courageous, and faithful. I decided their inspiring stories needed to have a voice.

As I was reading a biography about John Bunyan, I ran across a small excerpt about Elizabeth, his second wife. I loved the brave way she defended John during one of his trials when he was under arrest for his “unlicensed” preaching. Her strength to face a court of persecutors and her determination to faithfully support her husband touched me so deeply, that I decided her little-known story needed to be told to the world.

CC: The Preacher’s Bride takes place in England in 1659. Historical fiction presents several challenges, such as time-relevant details like setting, dialogue, and cultural norms — all of which you master with ease and grace in your novel. How did you conduct your research, especially in the midst of your busy days of mothering and home schooling, and did your research guide you in unexpected ways?

JH: I generally spend about eight weeks or more immersing myself in the research of my novel before I begin the actual writing. When I’m in research mode, I consider it part of my daily writing work, which I block into my schedule. While my writing time is hardly ever uninterrupted or perfect (when I’m at home surrounded by my kids!), I make a commitment to it every day, rain or shine.

For The Preacher’s Bride, I tracked down quite a number of biographies. I also drew extensively from the writings of John Bunyan himself—especially from his autobiography. After studying original church records, street maps of old Bedford, and learning as much as I could about the time period, I finally began the writing.

Having the upfront research helped me to be able to delve into the story and feel like I was already living in England in the 1650’s. Of course, I still needed to do plenty more research as I wrote, but I tried not to let it bog me down from telling the story.

CC: What impressions about John and Elizabeth’s story do you hope The Preacher’s Bride will leave with readers?

JH: Sometimes life can throw incredible challenges into our paths. It’s easy to want to give up or look for the easy way out of difficult situations. But real growth comes when we push ourselves to stay on the path, fight through the challenges, and persevere, no matter how hard.

CC: On your blog, you’ve published great posts on finding an agent, creating an online presence, and the roller coaster effect of writing, all in the midst of promoting one book and working on a second. What advice do you have for writers-on-the-rise who also juggle blog posts with novel or short story writing?

JH: A well-written, compelling story is THE most important thing to an author’s career. No matter where we’re at in the publication process, there will always be other responsibilities that clamor for our attention—social networking, querying, editing, answering emails, etc. We can and should budget time into our writing work days for those kinds of things. BUT, ultimately, the story itself is what counts the most and so we need to remember to give it our best time and energy.

CC: And finally, what are you reading these days?

JH: Currently, I’m in the middle of extensive in-house editing for my second book, The Doctor’s Lady (which is releasing in Sept. 2011), so my face is buried in papers lined with red ink. But when I squeeze in time for reading, I tend to gravitate toward the books of writer friends that I’ve come to know and appreciate.

Thanks again, Jody, for your interview! For all you readers, don’t forget to leave a quick comment to be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of The Preacher’s Bride! I’ll draw the winner’s name on Tuesday, November 9th.

To find more information about Jody Hedlund visit her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook. If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Preacher’s Bride click on over to www.christianbook.com or Amazon.


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15 responses to “Welcome Author, Jody Hedlund

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Welcome Author, Jody Hedlund | Writing Under Pressure -- Topsy.com

  2. Great interview! I love historical fiction, and all of the questions, answers and mysteries it presents that you may have not thought to explore on your own.

  3. Great interview, Christi. Thank you for featuring Jody Hedlund. I will be reading your book, Jody, whether or not I win the drawing. I’ll get it from Amazon, I suppose. Is that where you are selling it? Would you prefer I purchase it from another source?

  4. Excellent interview.

    I am definitely not generally interested in Christian fiction, however due to this interview my curiosity is piqued. I continually get irritated at how easily women can be overlooked in either historical nonfiction or historical fiction, and I’m very pleased to learn that The Preacher’s Bride helps to redress this problem.

  5. Thank you so much for having me here on your blog today, Christi! And I really appreciate the compliments about my book! It’s tough having writing friends reading your book, knowing how well they know the craft, and that their eagle eyes will spot all the mistakes! So, thank you for going easy on me! ;-)

    And Carol Ann, you can get my book at most online bookstores (Amazon, B&N, CBD, etc.) And I’ve heard that people are finding it in Borders and Sam’s Club, among other places. Thank you!

  6. I’m hoping to win a copy of Jody’s book. It sounds like a great read.
    Thanks for the great review!

  7. Pingback: Readers & Writers United (3rd edition) « Elsie Stills

  8. Great interview! Jody is an amazing blogger and her novel sounds amazing too. Can’t wait to read it!

  9. Jody,

    Your positive reviews have been well earned. And, I’m so glad to see that others who have commented here are either on their way to buy a copy or are eager to get their hands on one. I just gave a copy of your book to my mother-in-law, knowing that she’ll love it.

    Thanks for sharing some of your writing wisdom with us here.

  10. Really nice job, Christi! I very much enjoyed reading this interview. I’ve been to Jody’s website a few times, and I follow her on twitter. Jody is lovely, and as you pointed out, she offers great tips and resources for writers on her website. But I wasn’t sure about reading her novel because I’m not generally interested in Christian fiction. However, I really like how you introduced her book, and emphasized that it crosses genres. Now, it’s definitely on my to-read list. Thanks!

  11. I have heard so much about this book and I can’t wait to read it! I love Jody’s blog and follow it daily. Great interview Christi!

  12. I’ve been following Jody on Twitter and am a regular blog reader. Congrats on your debut and thanks for the incredible writing advice.

  13. Thanks for a great interview. Jody is the kind of writer that disappears behind her characters. They emerge as the real people whose lives we want to know more about, and I find that’s a rarity in Christian fiction. I love her writing. :)

  14. Great interview! I love Jody’s blog, and her book is already on my to-read list. Every time I see another good review I bump it up a notch. :)

  15. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by and leaving your comments. I know you’ll all love Jody Hedlund’s novel.

    The Drawing Queen (aka. my four year old daughter) pulled the winning name: Amanda! Congratulations! You should receive an email from me asking for your address. And, soon enough you’ll have a great story in your hands – complete with an autograph (which means writing mojo) – from an excellent writer and debut author!

    And, thank you, Jody, for sharing your writing wisdom and experience with us.

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