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:
Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund
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Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!
Announcing YOUR chance to win a copy of
THE DOCTOR'S LADY
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!