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An Interview with Jody Hedlund
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An Interview with Jody Hedlund

13 Apr Posted by in Interviews | Comments Off on An Interview with Jody Hedlund
An Interview with Jody Hedlund

jodyYou’ve based A Daring Sacrifice a little bit on the Robin Hood story. What drew you to this medieval tale?

I’ve always loved tales about underdogs rising up against injustice. The story of Robin Hood encompasses such an element, where the poor are unfairly cast from their homes, forced into hiding, and must rely upon their fearless leader to fight for their rights.

Instead of a nobleman leading and fighting for the needs of the underdogs, I decided to add a twist and have my heroine, a displaced noblewoman be the leader of a band of poor outcasts. As a skilled archer, she’s gained a reputation as the “Cloaked Bandit” doing her best to protect and provide for the people she’s grown to love.

 

daring-sacrificeWhat’s the story about and who are the main characters? 

The feisty heroine of the story is Lady Juliana Wessex who has been living in the forest in hiding from her tyrannical uncle who believes she was killed along with her father. Little does he know that the Cloaked Bandit that has been robbing him and other noblemen at knifepoint and with a well-placed arrow is really Juliana, the rightful heir to Wessex.

The dashing hero of the story is Lord Collin Goodrich who is one of the three knights that vied for Lady Rosemarie’s hand in An Uncertain Choice. After returning home from his failed attempts to win Lady Rosemarie’s hand in marriage, he’s bored and lonely and ready for another adventure.

During a hunting expedition, adventure lands behind him on his horse in the form of a quick and daring thief. Compassionate at heart, Collin lets the thief and his accomplice escape and even aids them by giving them more than they ask for. Sensing all is not as it seems with the young thief, Collin tracks the duo and discovers Lady Juliana, the beautiful red-headed neighbor he’d once known in childhood.

Collin challenges Juliana to stay on his estate for a week in order to prove to her that the nobility are not all evil and hopefully convince her to give up her dangerous thieving ways. In return Juliana challenges him to come live among the poor peasants for a week. Accepting the dual brings about more challenges than either anticipated, especially as they learn they must sacrifice more than they’d ever imagined.

 

A Daring Sacrifice is written in first person. How do you determine what voice to use, and why did you want Juliana and Collin to tell their story?

I write all of my adult novels in third person. But in the young adult genre, first person is very popular. I think first person appeals to teens because it allows them to relate a little more intimately with the main character. They feel as if they’re one step closer and on the adventure right along with the character, getting inside the heads and bodies and emotions. And let’s face it, teens are in an especially emotional time of life. Being able to connect emotionally to a character is important.

For all those reasons and more, I decided to write my YA series in first person as well. It’s a little tricky when switching between the hero and heroine’s POV. So my publisher decided to do different fonts to designate between the hero and the heroine’s POV. So when you see that in the book, it’s not a mistake. It’s intentional!

 

Why Middle Ages/Medieval Times? What draws you to that particular era?

I’ve always loved fairy tales, castles, knights, and damsels in distress. I love the chivalry, honor, and courage that are so often displayed during that time. And I really like how stark and different their way of living was. It’s SO different than how we live that it’s fascinating.

Additionally, I love that the Middle Ages was filled with so much danger not only from wars and battles among kings and lords, but also due to the elements, harsh living conditions, and diseases. It was a time when plagues, dungeons, torture, and all the stuff that makes for a good plot!

 

How do you keep a faith focus in A Daring Sacrifice without becoming “preachy”?

It’s definitely tricky to keep a faith focus without becoming preachy.

One of things I try to do is intertwine the characters’ emotional and spiritual arcs, so that they are closely related. I start off by giving by characters flaws or weaknesses that they must work through as the story progresses. As they wrestle through issues, they don’t end up perfect. But by the end I try to bring about some emotional and spiritual growth with their story flaw.

For example, in A Daring Sacrifice, Juliana harbors a great deal of bitterness toward those who’ve hurt her family and her people. She’s resorted to stealing from wealthy nobles and justifies what she’s doing. Obviously, this is her flaw. As the story unfolds, she must learn some lessons about acting with integrity, even if it requires great sacrifice.

Another way, that I add in the faith aspect to my stories without being preachy is by having  the characters pray, go to chapel, and or draw comfort from God in a historical context. People during the Middle Ages were extremely religious and so it’s only natural to add this aspect into the story to remain true to the times.

 

How is writing for a YA audience different than writing for an adult audience? What are the similarities?

The Differences:

While many of my adult readers have enjoyed my YA books just as much if not more than my adult novels, I do get adult readers now and then who are surprised, maybe even disgruntled, with the fact that my YA are slightly different than my adult novels. And I try to gently remind them, that they’re supposed to be different.

First, my YA books are shorter, crisper, and less historically detailed. In fact, I’d almost go as far as saying that my YA are more fairy-tale world than true historicals. They contain enough detail to give a “flavor” of another place, but not too much to bog down younger readers.

Secondly, my YA books are more plot driven than character driven. I’ve included battle scenes as well as some of the seat-of-your pants danger that appeals to the modern teen reader. I plunge my characters into desperate, life-threatening situations (which in the era of books like the Hunger Games is appealing to modern readers).

A third difference is in how I’m approaching the heroine and the romance. My YA heroine’s are a bit younger and so this is more of a coming of age story where the heroine must grapple with some “growing up” issues. I’ve also tried to keep the romance very sweet and tender (as opposed to my adult novels that while clean, are more passionate in nature).

The Similarities:

Whether my adult novels or YA, I simply want to tell a compelling story. I hope that I’ve been able to entertain and perhaps even inspire in both of my markets.

 

The hero and heroine aren’t together very long before “falling in love.” Do you believe love at first sight is possible?

Of course working within the parameters of 200 pages is as constricting as a the two hour movie romance development. It’s not ideal and couples often get together more quickly than in real life.

I actually don’t advocate the idea of falling in love at first sight. I think there are some dangers that come with that kind of thinking:

We don’t have time to test character.  When we rush into a relationship, we may not take the time to really get to know the person, especially their inner qualities. It’s easy for anyone to put up a facade for a short while, but it’s only after time and trials that a person’s true colors shine through. If we don’t take the time to test another’s character, we may get into difficult or even dangerous situations.

We get caught up in feelings. Everyone enjoys the physical rush of a new relationship. And it’s all too easy to get caught up in those tingling wonderful emotions and let them dictate our actions instead of operating with sound logic and thinking. That magical quality of love, while nice, can lead to rash and sometimes foolish decisions.

We neglect a solid foundation of friendship. When a couple jumps into a relationship based on feelings and physical attraction, that often comes at the detriment of forming a friendship first. Without a friendship to glue a relationship together, we’re left with a shallow relationship when the feelings and physical attraction fades.

 

What did you have the most fun with when you were writing the book?

Of course, since this is a series involving knights, I had to have those knights engaged in various battles. So I had a lot of fun writing the sword-wielding, arrow-shooting, death-defying scenes. In addition, I always have fun figuring out how my heroine can help save the day (because while I like having the knight come to the rescue, I also like being able to have the heroine do some rescuing too!).

 

The concept of sacrifice is a big part of the book. Why did you choose to focus on that?

Most of the time, we’re conditioned by the world around us through advertisements, commercials, magazines, movies, TV, and even social media to focus on ourselves. We’re bombarded with messages that draw our attention to what we should buy next, what we should wear, how we should feel, where we should go, etc.

It’s all about making sure we get our needs met. First. And foremost. The world tells us our personal satisfaction is the most important thing and that we should do whatever it takes to be happy.

Unfortunately, that kind of mindset follows us into our dating relationships. All too often we want to have a boyfriend to make us happy. We want someone to make us feel good, look popular, or keep us company.

Even more unfortunately, when that type of self-centered mindset follows a couple into marriage, wedded bliss soon turns into a wedded battle as each person vies to get his or her needs met through the other person.

A Daring Sacrifice is my attempt to re-introduce this long-forgotten and little-used idea of self-sacrifice back into dating relationships.

 

A Daring Sacrifice ends with one of the knights in mortal danger, a cliff hanger for the next book in the series. Can you tell us a little bit more about the third book?

For Love and Honor is the third book in the series and gives the final knight his happily-ever-after. However, as you know from the cliff-hanger at the end of A Daring Sacrifice, he has to work extremely hard to gain his true love as well as save his life and those of the people he loves.

I had a lot of fun writing the heroine of the third book. She’s a little quirky and not quite as beautiful (aka more normal!) as the ladies in the first two books. She’s also hiding a secret, a “blemish” on her skin that could brand her as a witch if anyone ever sees it. During the Middle Ages, the time of the Inquisition and extreme religious intolerance, even the slightest mole, birth defect, or blemish could easily lead to accusations of witchcraft.  The times were dangerous, and of course, I just love putting my characters right into the middle of the worst possible danger. Cue: evil cackle.

 

What three tips do you have for beginning writers?

  • Write the first book for yourself without worrying about rules or publication. There’s something about that first book (or first few) that helps unleash the creative side of story-telling.
  • Finish a book. There’s nothing like the experience of completing a book from first page to the last to help a writer move out of the wannabe category.
  • Study basic fiction-writing techniques. Check out fiction “how-to” books from a local library. Take lots of notes. Then put it all into practice by writing another book or two.

 

Jody’s Bio:

 

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

 

Contact Jody:

 

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

For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund

I get personal on Instagram: instagram.com/JodyHedlund/

Or you’re welcome to email me at: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com

 

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