Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stops Along the Way: Interview with Jody Hedlund

Today, I would like to welcome Jody Hedlund to Directions for the Journey. I am very excited to have her join me for an interview about her latest release, The Doctor's Lady, available now. Jody 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.

Jody, welcome! Your book is an exciting tale, full of challenges, hardship and hope. What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

Based on a real woman, what percentage of The Doctor’s Lady is true? And how much did you add?  

As with any story of historical fiction, the large majority of what I’ve written was truly from the depths of my imagination, all of my creative meanderings of “what could have happened.”

However, in my research of the Whitmans, I drew from numerous biographies. While I wasn’t able to stick to every historical detail in complete accuracy, most of the story outline is taken directly from Narcissa’s diary.

I tried to follow the trail they took west as closely as possible. While I was unable to include every stop and incident of their travel for the sake of brevity, I did try to capture the essence of their journey. I included their travel first by sleigh, then steamboat, and lastly by wagon and horse.

Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book where I explain in more detail which specific incidents came from the pages of her diary and what I made up for the sake of the story.

The Doctor's Lady gives readers a very real taste for history and the landscape of our great country. Where I live in Pennsylvania we have our very own "Grand Canyon." There are miles of scenic trails along the canyon with Trail and Canyon Wagon Rides that offer a "taste of the western experience." In preparation for writing The Doctor's Lady, did you spend any time in the wilderness yourself to understand the rugged road your heroine had to travel?

Even though I really wanted to rent a covered wagon (if that's possible!) and simulate an Oregon Trail experience through Nebraska and Wyoming as a family vacation, I just couldn't get my family to get excited about such a trip! And actually, since I started the book in January and finished writing it in May, I likely wouldn't have been able to make a trip like that work anyway!

So, instead of re-enacting the trail West, I had to rely on my past memories of vacationing and living out West. When I was growing up I lived in Colorado and Utah for a number of years. And while living there we did a lot of vacationing throughout the West. So I was pretty familiar with the terrain and climate. I also watched a couple of different Lewis and Clark DVD's that enabled me to view overland travel through early explorer eyes. The Lewis & Clark route was slightly different, but their experiences, what they saw, and what they encountered were very similar to the setting of my book.

You homeschool your children. I did that for a few years myself and it was hectic even though I was only doing it with two of my children. As a homeschooling mom of five, how do you manage to find time to write?

It’s definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I’ve had to look for ways to make it work. I’ve scaled-back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. I also stick to a very strict writing schedule when I’m in first draft mode. I block out writing time and don’t let myself go to bed at night unless I get in my daily word count.

You're already working on a new book. What’s coming next?

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

It sounds like Lily will be facing some tough decisions. I look forward to reading about what she does. In the Doctor's Lady, Priscilla and Eli go through many difficult things as well to achieve their goals. What message do you hope readers take away?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

Sounds to me like some great directions for all our journeys. Thanks for stopping by, Jody! I had a great time with this interview and wish you every success. 

Watch the book trailer for A Doctor's Lady here:
Find Jody:
Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Her  website:

Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!

Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

In celebration of the release of The Doctor’s Lady, Jody is offering her readers a chance to win an incredible pioneer prize package valued at $300.
Visit the Contest page or find Jody on Facebook to learn more, submit your entry, and tell your friends.

Announcing YOUR chance to win a copy of 
signed by Author Jody Hedlund:

Directions for the Journey is offering one print copy of “The Doctor’s Lady” signed by Jody Hedlund. You have several opportunities to enter this drawing. You may do just one, two or all three of the options below and each option equals one entry of your name into the hat from which the winner will be drawn.
The only Rule - You MUST have a U.S. Mailing address (No P.O. Boxes please!)

Entry option #1 - Visit my facebook author page and mention this blog post there.
Entry option #2 - Post a reply to this Interview
New Entry option #3 - Tweet about Jody's new book and include @narratus in your tweet so that I see your tweet.

The entry window for the drawing is now open and closes at 11:59 PM September 12, 2011. I hope you get to enjoy this marvelous book soon. God bless you and thanks for reading!


  1. It looks like I am the first one to sign this. Enjoyed the interview and look forward to reading the book.


  2. Great interview! Can't wait to read this book.
    Thanks for the chance to win one!

  3. 'The Doctor's Lady' sounds really good! Please enter me in the giveaway!

    frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Interesting interview . . . this book is at the top of my "must read" list!


  5. Historical fiction would be so challenging to write and I'd wager very rewarding for the work put it. I become more and more interested in this book every time I read about it!

    Homeschoolilng five kids? I'm homeschooling one and that seems frantic enough! It's kind of fun though.

  6. The books sound very interesting. The interview was great. Would love to win the gift if its Gods will. Thanks an God Bless You.

  7. Very intriguing story line, and the trailer is beautiful.

    Hope Clark

  8. I love books with a historical basis. I Liked/Posted/Tweeted - fingers crossed for the offer of a book.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  9. Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Jodi is a lovely lady. Remember you can get your name in for the giveaway more than once, so take every opportunity right up until midnight on the 12th. I'll be announcing the winner on Wednesday, September 14 and passing that information on to Jodi.

    God Bless!

  10. Missionary and historical fiction/romance are my very favorite genres! Thank you for this opportunity!

  11. I am glad you stopped by, Karen! I love good historical fiction, too and I am thrilled to be part of helping Jodi with spreading the news about her new book.