A Noble GroomA Noble Groom
Jody Hedlund
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Recently widowed Analisa Weiss has the feeling her husband was murdered but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, 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 Analisa a groom.


     

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jody hedlundJody Hedlund is an historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest in Historical Romance. 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 central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Favorite Verse: Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


 

 Christianbook.com Interview with Jody Hedlund


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself. How do you manage to balance your life with outstanding in-depth writing and five children?

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 two children to choir.

What sparked your interest to write a Noble Groom?

As I was studying Michigan history and browsing through research books, I ran across a community of German immigrants that settled in the Thumb area of Michigan.

This particular group had immigrated from Saxony Germany to Sanilac County Michigan and formed Colonial Saxonia. As miners, they had originally intended to settle in the Upper Peninsula and mine there, but due to reports on the severity of the weather in the northern parts of Michigan, they decided to settle instead further south, in Forestville.

The land around Forestville had once been a former logging community and was being parceled off and sold in forty-acre tracts to potential farmers. The land was covered with a tangle of dead trees, stumps, and fast growing brush. The soil was rich for farming but would take an incredible amount of hard work to clear and make suitable for the kind of farming that would support the families.

In writing A Noble Groom, I wanted to bring to life this era and the difficulty these immigrants faced in settling in a strange land.

 

What part of your background was involved in creating the setting and characters for A Noble Groom ?

A Noble Groom centers around a German immigrant farming community in central Michigan during the 1880's. I was drawn to write this story for a number of reasons. One reason is that I live in central Michigan and am fascinated by the history behind the area. Since there have been so few books set in Michigan, I'm delighted to pioneer the way into bringing my state's history to life.

Another reason I chose to focus on this German immigrant farming community, is because of my own German roots. My father's family immigrated from Germany and eventually many of them became farmers. My dad grew up on a big farm in central Wisconsin, and even though he later became a Lutheran pastor, he carried his love of farming and gardening over into our family when I was growing up. I spent my summers snapping beans, shucking peas, freezing corn, and canning tomatoes that came from his enormous garden.

How much research did A Noble Groom take?

I worked on researching and plotting A Noble Groom for about a month. And then the actual writing of the first draft took me about five months.

How much of the story is factual information?

Most of the story is made up. But as I mentioned, the story is inspired by a real immigrant community and it also ties in with the Great Fire of 1881.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing A Noble Groom?

I loved researching the Great Fire of 1881. By September of that year, no penetrating rain had fallen for almost two months. Streams had dried up, the vegetation of the fields and woods had become tinder, and the earth was parched. Even under such dry conditions, some farmers still resorted to the common practice of burning their land to clear it.

When a major weather front moved through the area bringing violent winds, the fires fanned into a raging inferno. Witnesses reported that in some places the fire marched in a great wall of flames, sometimes one hundred feet high. It moved across Michigan’s Thumb area in four hours, burning and destroying lives until finally it reached Lake Huron and burned itself out.
 
Hundreds of cattle, sheep, and hogs lay dead along the roads. Few trees and buildings were left standing. Nearly 300 people died and thousands were injured and homeless. Some took refuge in wells and survived while others suffocated. Some buried themselves in fields, took refuge in root cellars, or in rivers. Those closest to Lake Huron sought refuge in the cool waters of the lake and found themselves standing next to wild animals.

 

What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon? (Perhaps a book about Organizing for busy moms ?!)

Oh, a book about organizing for busy moms sounds wonderful! I'll have to tuck that idea away for the future!

Currently, I'm working on several various fiction projects. My next book, Rebellious Heart releases this coming fall (2013). It follows in the same vein as The Preacher’s Bride and The Doctor’s Lady in that it’s also inspired by a famous couple from history. The story is set in Colonial America and is based on the beautiful courtship of John and Abigail Adams. Of course, as I've done in the past, I've changed names and fictionalized the account, but it still gives insight into one of America's most famous couples. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading A Noble Groom?

I pray readers will find the story of the immigrants inspiring as they persevere through their own challenges. It's my hope that the courage of the immigrants will give readers fresh determination and hope.

And most of all, I want them to know God does indeed care for them. Even when He seems busy with more important people and matters, I hope readers will have a new awakening of His nearness especially during their darkest moments of pain.

What organizations are you involved with?

I'm involved in several writer's groups including ACFW, RWA, and the Great Lakes Chapter of ACFW.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
My biggest challenge at this stage in my life is dividing my time between writing and being a mom. Since I'm a work-from-home mom, there are many special issues that arise around setting boundaries, time management, as well as teaching my children to respect my work time.

And like most modern authors, we're struggling in this new age of shrinking shelf space and closing bookstores to get the word about our books out. With many readers shopping online these days, it's difficult to find ways to promote our books and get discovered by readers. We count it such a blessing when fans spread the word and leave book reviews! We authors appreciate that so much!

 

Who is the person who most influences your writing?

My mom was the most influential person in my writing career. When I was young, she helped facilitate my love of writing by reading aloud to me, giving me good books to read, and providing the kind of environment that fostered my creativity (in fact we didn’t have a TV for a number of years). She always believed in me, encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and rode alongside me cheering me on.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

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.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

What do you do to get away from it all?

READ!! I absolutely love reading! When I find a really good book, I have a hard time tearing myself away from it to get to sleep.

What were your favorite stories as a child? What books do you enjoy reading to your children?

Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorites as a child because it played a role in developing my creativity as a writer. (Followed closely by A Little Princess and Little Women because they also featured strong, creative girls.)

I have loved re-reading all of those stories with my children along with many more. I just finished reading Charlotte's Web with my youngest two and have sticky notes in places that touched me! Seems that even in children's books I'm taking notes!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
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
Or you're welcome to email me at: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com


 


 
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