Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring An Uncertain Choice
Brock: What was your inspiration for writing An Uncertain Choice?
Jody: I have three daughters. My two oldest daughters (twins) are in high school. They're starting to notice boys. And boys are starting to notice them.
Okay, who am I kidding? My teen daughters have been paying attention to boys for quite a few years. Yes, they're human. But of course, up until now they've been a tad young to enter the world of dating. My husband would prefer that we have a family rule, "No dating until at least the age of 22." And he'll likely greet any boy that comes calling for them with a baseball bat in hand (wink!).
But because we know that we can't beat away the boys forever, we wanted to have a tool that we could use for our daughters to help prepare them for dating.
Let's face it, the dating world has become rather big and scary to many young people. And rightly so. Our modern culture, particularly social media, has changed the nature of dating. Cell phones, texting, Facebook, online dating services, etc. have all impacted the how's, why's, what's, and when's of dating.
When I began to think about what kinds of dating experiences I wanted my daughters to have, I decided to write a book that models the purity, nobility, and courtly love that existed in the days of old, during the times of knights and their ladies, a time in history when chivalry was at its height. Thus, An Uncertain Choice was birthed. (Plus I'm a sap for a good medieval fairy tale!)
Brock: Tell us about the main characters. Who are they? What makes them unique?
Jody: The heroine is a beautiful and wealthy young woman named Lady Rosemarie. She's on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday and knows her destiny is to fulfill a vow made by her parents. In light of their infertility, her parents had promised to give their firstborn back to God for a life of service and celibacy when she turned eighteen. Now with only one month before her birthday, Lady Rosemarie receives the news that there is an exception to the Ancient Vow–if she finds true love and is married by her birthday, then she is exempt from having to become a nun.
Faced with a growing loneliness and the possibility of losing control over the people she rules with compassion, Lady Rosemarie questions whether life in a cloister is really the best choice for her life. She agrees to allow the three handsomest and noblest knights in the land the chance to win her heart in one month.
Enter on stage, the three heart throbs! Sir Collin, Sir Bennet, and Sir Derrick. Each one is completely honorable and noble in his own way. Lady Rosemarie will have a tough choice ahead of her. Now you'll have to read the book to find out who she chooses and why!
Brock: In three sentences what is An Uncertain Choice about?
Jody: One beautiful maiden. One month to decide her fate. The choice? Fall in love or become a nun. The prospects? The three of the handsomest and noble knights in all the land. As an unseen enemy threatens the competition, Lady Rosemarie's choices may be slimmer than she realizes.
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
Jody: I start out with a brainstormed list of plot ideas. I do my best to think of as many twists and turns as I can before I start writing the first draft. And I usually have a pretty good idea of how I want the plot to wrap up.
But inevitably the story develops even more as I get into the meat of writing. I think that’s what makes writing so fun and what gives me such a rush—to see what new aspects unfold and where the story actually leads as I get to know my characters more intimately.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
Jody: Young people today really enjoy reality TV shows, especially ones that involve contests. My teens love watching Survivor, The Amazing Race, and even American Idol. There's just something about real competition that attracts us.
An Uncertain Choice is a little bit like reality TV, especially a show like Bachlorette (although a much sweeter and cleaner version!) where a young woman is presented with three really fantastic men. In some ways, she can't go wrong if she chooses any of the men. But readers get to join the adventure as she must narrow down her choices even as the clock ticks away to the day of her eighteenth birthday.
Aside from the many issues related to dating and marriage, the book also tackles issues like chafing under too much supervision, learning to become a strong leader, and how to display courage in different ways.
Brock: What is your favorite genre to write for?
Jody: I'm currently writing in three similar but distinct genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult Medieval Romance, and then Historicals that are based on the lives of real people. I actually love writing in all three of the genres and am thrilled that I have three books releasing this year (one in each of the genres).
In addition to An Uncertain Choice my YA medieval tale, readers can also look forward to a second historical romance in a lighthouse series that recently launched. And then in the fall I'm releasing a book called Luther & Katharina with Random House (Waterbrook) in October. It's a book based one of the greatest untold love stories: the courtship and marriage of the great reformer, Martin Luther to a runaway nun Katharina von Bora. He's a heretic wanted dead or alive, and she's a noblewoman without a family or home. Amidst the dangers of pope, princes, and revolting peasants, the two must wage war to find a love of their own.
Brock: How many books are planned for this series?
Jody: There are three total books planned in this series. As I mentioned, Lady Rosemarie, the heroine, is presented with three really fantastic men to choose to marry. In some ways, she can't go wrong with any of the men since they're all noble and swoon-worthy! But readers get to join the adventure as she must narrow down her choices even as the clock ticks away to the day of her eighteenth birthday when she must either marry or enter the convent and become a nun.
Luckily If Rosemarie doesn't choose YOUR personal favorite knight, don't despair! The other two knights will get books of their own. And you'll be able to take a journey with them as they begin their own quests to find their places in the world, overcome shortcomings, and along the way find the woman that God has planned for them.
Brock: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all from your imagination?
Jody: Research is an integral part of my writing process. I usually spend approximately 4 weeks on initial research, reading biographies, getting a feel for the time period, and digging into the meat that will comprise the plot of my book.
Once I start writing the first draft, I have to stop from time to time to do a little more research, particularly if I switch settings within the story. But usually, if I don’t know something, I’ll highlight it and then do more research during my editing phase.
Brock: Are you working on the next book in the series?
Jody: Yes! I'm already excited about the second book in the series. It's already written and I'm in the process of getting ready to turn it in to my editor in order to get her expertise feedback. As I mentioned it will involve another one of the three knights. But of course, I won't give away which of the knights until closer to the release of the book! (How's that for a tease!)
Brock: How do you hope parents will use An Uncertain Choice with their kids?
Jody: While the book is an exciting and entertaining story that young women will enjoy reading, it's also a book that I hope facilitates discussion about dating, love, and marriage.
I've developed a downloadable discussion guide to correspond with the book chapter by chapter that will be available on my website. It's my desire that mothers (or grandmothers) will read the book as a disciplining tool with their daughters and then use the story and study guide as a way to talk about relationship issues that often get overlooked.
An Uncertain Choice would also be perfect for mentors, small groups, youth groups, or Bible studies, where girls to come together to read and discuss the book as a way to spur thoughts about God's plans for dating.
Brock: What do you hope kids take away from this book?
Jody: It's my prayer that through An Uncertain Choice and its discussion guide readers will examine dating and be better prepared for the challenges that accompany it. Whether young women are brand new at dating or have been dating for a while, it's never too late to evaluate God's design and to set into place a solid foundation for relationships, particularly in preparing for marriage.
Brock: How long does it usually take you to write a single book?
Jody: My writing pace varies from project to project. On average, however, I would say that a book takes me about 4-5 months including the research, first draft, and then self-editing. Obviously, once I'm done and turn it into my publisher, there's still a lot more work that goes into getting the book ready for publication. But my first draft process usually encompasses about five months.
Brock: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
Jody: Like many writers, I’ve been writing since my childhood days. I always loved telling stories. When I was in junior high, I entered my first writing contest for a Biblical fiction story. And when I won, I realized God had indeed gifted me. I think that was when I became more serious about wanting to be a writer when I grew up. The passion followed me into adulthood. And after many twists and turns along the path, I’ve finally been able to channel that passion into a full time writing career.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Jody: 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.
Brock: What was your favorite book as a teen or child?
Jody: 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.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
Jody: Diet Pepsi
Brock: Soft shell or hard shell tacos?
Jody: Soft shell loaded with all the toppings
Brock: Favorite place to vacation?
Jody: Dream vacation: castles throughout Europe
Brock: Favorite season?
Jody: All of them in their own time
Brock: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Jody: Coffee. Coffee. And more coffee. :-)
Brock: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Jody: One of the many verses I treasure is "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13 That verse has held me in good stead through many trials.
Brock: Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?
Jody: Since I'm in the midst of raising a busy family of five children, I want to enjoy my family and raise my children to glorify God. That's a HUGE task right now and takes up most of my time and energy when I'm not writing.
Someday I hope to be able to take naps again. But until then, I dream about the day!
Brock: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
Jody: Spare time? What's that? *Grin*
No, seriously. When I have a minute or two to myself, I love to read! I've taken to using audio books as a way to squeeze in more reading, especially as I'm doing house chores or exercising.
Also, over the past couple of years I've taken up running. I've enjoyed getting in shape (even though it's been slightly painful for me!)
Author website: JodyHedlund.com
Author Twitter: twitter.com/JodyHedlund
Author Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/
Author Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/3358829.Jody_Hedlund