The Preacher's BrideThe Preacher's Bride
Jody Hedlund
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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.
     


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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


 

What is your favorite Bible verse?

As a writer, I love the verse that describes Jesus as an author. Hebrews 12:2: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve been married for eighteen years, and am blessed with five children, including twins. Interestingly enough, my father was a twin and my husband’s mother was a twin. I don’t know why we were shocked when the ultrasound technician told us we were having twins, but we were. Our twin daughters were born prematurely at thirty-one weeks and weighed only three pounds. But God preserved them, and now they are healthy, beautiful ten-year-olds.

In addition to our five children, we have five pets, so some days I feel like I live in a zoo. While there are many challenges to raising a large family, my heart overflows with gratefulness to God for the gift of each one of my children.

How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?

Writing has always been my first love. I’ve written since the day I could spell and compose sentences, filling notebook after notebook with stories. I started college at Taylor University with every intention of getting a degree in writing. However, when I looked at other majors, I thought I could serve God better by getting a degree in social work—I wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting and lost world. At the time I didn’t realize that God can use his children in any line of work—that really all that matters is having a heart willing to serve him.

For a time I tried a career in social work. I even went on to get my Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. But it didn’t take too many years for discontentment to settle in. One day as I was cleaning my house, I heard an interview on the radio with Christian author Lori Wick. She shared about her writing journey, about how and where she wrote. She made it seem possible and fun. After that interview, ideas for stories began to blossom and I started writing full force.

 

How did you come up with the concept for The Preacher’s Bride?

I homeschool my busy clan of children, and as part of history, we study great heroes of the Christian faith. In reading to my children, I began to grow increasingly fascinated with some of these heroes, especially their wives.

What is significant about The Preacher’s Bride?

The Preacher’s Bride is inspired by the life of John Bunyan, the author of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress. When I read the little that exists about his second wife, Elizabeth, I was so inspired by her love and devotion to John that I wanted to tell her story. The world has heard quite a bit about many of the great men of the faith, but often very little is said about the women who stood by their sides and helped shape them into the heroes they became.

Not only are the women strong and admirable, but the love stories are incredibly fascinating. I’ve really enjoyed exploring them and hope to do more in the future.

Is any part of The Preacher’s Bride factual? Was it based on an experience that you may have had?

I did extensive research into the life and times of John Bunyan, and have based my story upon the specific time period in his life after his first wife died and left him with four young children. The women in his congregation stepped up to help him during this time of need, and it is believed that one of those women was Elizabeth, who later became his second wife.

There is actually very little known about Elizabeth. I tried to stay true to what history recorded about her, but then had a lot of fun imaging what kind of woman she would have been to so bravely and willingly marry a man whose future was so uncertain. The trial at the end of the book, where she pleads for John’s release from prison, is taken from John’s own records. She was an amazing woman to come to his defense and to stand beside him during the hardships the Puritans faced during Restoration England.

 

What is the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing The Preacher’s Bride?

While doing research for The Preacher’s Bride, I read an incredibly insightful and well-written book about the Puritans called Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were by Leland Ryken. It provided a treasure chest of information about Puritan life as well as numerous quotes that were inspiring and challenging to my own faith.

One of the things that I found the most fascinating about Puritan life was the emphasis they put on family worship time. This was an integral part of their everyday lives, and Fathers took seriously the call to lead their family’s spiritual instruction.

Over the years, Puritans have often been portrayed in a less than favorable light—too strict, too prude, too legalistic. But for all their faults, I found their love and service to God zealous and alive in a way that puts our modern faith to shame.

What other projects do you have on the horizon?

My next novel is inspired by American heroes of the faith, the Whitmans. Young Mrs. Whitman became the first white woman to travel overland to the West in an attempt to set up a mission and minister to the natives in Oregon. The Whitmans’ love story is unique in that the American Mission Board refused to send/support unmarried men or women, and their policy practically forces my heroine and hero into a marriage of convenience in order to realize their individual dreams of going west. It’s an exciting tale of braving the dangers of forging a trail to the West and trying to find true love in the process.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Probably my biggest challenge is finding uninterrupted writing time. In order to get some early quiet writing time, I trudge down to the coffeepot in the wee hours of the morning. I can usually get an hour to an hour and a half of writing in before my gang descends for breakfast. Because I teach my children at home, my day is spent grading math lessons, giving quizzes, and overseeing crazy science experiments. Somewhere in there I manage to squeak in a load of laundry or return e-mails.

By the time we’re finished with school, my children are ready for a break from Mom and I’m ready to head back to the world of writing. Most afternoons I devote a couple more hours to attempting to meet my daily word-count goals.

I’m blessed with a supportive husband who understands just how much I love writing. So every Saturday I head off to the library for extended writing time, while he oversees chores and activities. He even prepares dinner and has it hot and ready by the time I make it back home.

 

Who was the person who most influenced you in your writing journey?

My mother is a writer. But more than that, she is an encourager. She was the kind of parent who allowed me the freedom to dream big and to pursue my passions, no matter how big or small.

One year, in sixth grade, I decided to run cross-country. Of course, I had Olympic-size dreams. When I think back to that stage, I chuckle. But what strikes me most is that my mother didn’t chuckle. Instead, everyday, she got on her bike and rode alongside me as I ran up and down the hilly country roads near our home. Without fail she pedaled by my side, her steady words always encouraging me.

The same is true of my writing journey. She’s pedaled alongside me all of these years, nurturing my creativity, never leaving my side, encouraging me, challenging me, giving me feedback, and always believing in me. Because she believed in me, I could believe in myself.

What message would you like your readers to take from The Preacher’s Bride?

Overall, I’d like readers to come away with the sense that the Christian walk won’t be easy. In fact, sometimes, it will be downright difficult. But those hardships are part of his plan in shaping us into the kind of people who love him simply for who is he is, not what he does for us.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

When God sent Jesus to this earth, he often had his son tell stories in order to share important truths and messages. I want to be one of God’s storytellers, bringing to life timeless truths and messages that can make an impact on lives today.

What do you do to get away from it all?

One of my favorite things is to take walks with my twin daughters and our dog. I love the time to be with my girls and just listen to them talk about everything on their hearts. Our walks are refreshing and the time together precious.

 

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