ABOUT AUTHOR: Jody Hedlund
is an award-winning author of inspirational historical romances, including the best-selling historical, The Preacher's Bride.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop. Sometimes her family thinks her fingers are super-glued to the keyboard, but in reality she usually finds her writing time in the wee hours of the morning and then for a couple of hours in the afternoon when done with school. She views writing as God's gift to her--a creative outlet that helps bring fresh energy to her parenting.

She's living testimony that amidst the crazy chaos of running a large family, it's still possible to squeeze in time for writing and fulfill the dream of publication. She chronicles both the joys and difficulties of her journey toward publication on her blog, Author Jody Hedlund:
How did you come up with the idea for Unending Devotion, did you base your main character after anyone special?

During my research for the book, I began reading biographies about people who lived during the lumber era. And as I did, I ran across stories of young women who didn't fit into the glamorized legends and songs.

The stories of many of these women were much darker. They're tales of women who were abused, exploited, and even enslaved.

Unending Devotion is inspired by one of those women, Jennie King. She rode a train into central Michigan in answer to newspaper ad for a job. She expected to work in a hotel. Instead she found herself enslaved in a brothel. She fled, but was recaptured and beaten. The brave and desperate woman escaped again, wearing only a nightgown, and this time gained help from a local family. The brothel owner tried to get her back again. But the family helped smuggle Jennie out of town and to a safe place.
What do you hope readers take away from reading your book Unending Devotion?

Often forgotten in all of the lore and legends is the toll that lumbering took, not only on the land but also on lives. Many lumber barons had the philosophy of getting all they could from the land, as fast as they could, and then letting tomorrow’s people handle tomorrow’s problems. As they moved their camps from place to place, they left behind barren land in their wake, often not even suitable for farming.

Not only did the lumbering industry devastate the land, but it also brought a plethora of moral dilemmas—alcoholism, prostitution, and violence. In fact, the lumber era is credited with introducing white slavery (forced prostitution) into Michigan.

It was my hope in Unending Devotion to bring attention to some of the problems that existed during the lumber era, particularly the issue of white slavery, which is unfortunately still a problem within the United States (and throughout the world) today. I pray that we may we rise up, stand tall, and fight against the injustices that still exist today.

What made you want to write about the topic you did in Unending Devotion?

Unending Devotion is set in Harrison which was a real town in central Michigan that sprang up during the lumber era. In the early 1880’s it had a population of only 2000 people, but had over 20 saloons.

James Carr was a real villain who took up residence in Harrison to prey on the shanty boys of the area. He built a two-story saloon and brothel on a hill overlooking the town and named it the Devil’s Ranch Stockade. Every night between 50 to 250 men visited the Stockade. So many men lost their lives there that eventually the hill outside the Stockade became known as Deadman’s Hill.

When recruitment of prostitutes for his brothel ran low, Carr resorted to procuring women by any means he was able. He kidnapped young women off the streets of Saginaw and Bay City. And he also advertised in down state newspapers for chambermaids and waitresses for his Harrison “hotel.”

When unsuspecting young girls arrived in Harrison by train, Maggie (Carr’s lover and whorehouse matron), would meet the girls at the depot and whisk them off to the brothel. Those who objected were beaten into submission. Most of those girls were never heard from again.

After readers finish this your book what do you want them to remember—walk away feeling? Why is this book/story relevant today?

There are still women (and children) who are being enslaved every day across the world. According to the A21 Campaign (Abolishing Injustice in the 21st Century), human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately 31.6 billion US dollars each year. Specifically, trafficking for sexual exploitation generates 27.8 billion US dollars per year.

According to A21, the growth of trafficking of women from Eastern and Southern Europe (the former Soviet Bloc) into Western Europe over the past 20 years has been unparalleled anywhere else on the globe.

Sexual slavery is a huge problem on the rise in the Unites States too. A21 states that over 17,500 victims are trafficked in the US annually and approximately 33% are American citizens.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us something about it?

My next book, A Noble Groom, releases in April of 2013. It's also set in my home state of Michigan and is centered around a German immigrant farming community. While I haven't based my story on any real characters, I enjoyed bringing to life the Great Fire of 1881 that devastated large parts of central Michigan and killed numerous people.
Do you have a set size a reading group has to be before you'll talk to them on the phone or in person?

I don't have any special requirements for the size. I've met with both large and small groups and enjoy both!

What do you feel most comfortable doing?

I really like being able to Skype with book groups if possible. I like the ability to "meet" my readers on a more personal level. And I think most groups have appreciated getting to chat with me via the webcam too. But I'm also available to do conference calls as well and like that too!
What have you learned about your book and yourself from book club meetings? 

I've learned that I really enjoy chatting with readers, talking about books, and answering questions. It's truly one of the best things about being an author!
1. You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

I'd have to take the role of being the one to find the coffee and coffee maker! ;-) And I'd also have to hunt down the supply of chocolate too!
2. You've been given 48 hours to hang out with any two people (alive or dead besides Jesus). Who would you pick and what would you do?

I'd pick my dad for one of the people. He died when I was just 21 and I didn't have the chance to say good-bye. I'd love the opportunity to talk with him one last time.

I'd also choose a popular writing coach to have a mini-writing retreat, to offer me feedback on my writing, and to teach me all the secrets for becoming a better writer.
3. What three things would you rather not live without? (Besides friends, family, and my Bible)

That's easy! Chocolate, coffee, and books!
4. As a young person, what movie impacted your life, a movie you’ll never forget? If you didn’t watch movies what book affected you most in your youth?

I loved Chariots of Fire. The Olympics are always very inspiring. But to see Eric Liddell work incredibly hard AND stand true to what he believed is even more inspiring.
5.  A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for awhile. What would you do with it? Where would you go and what would you do?

I would love to travel back in time to each of the settings of my story, to have a firsthand experience of what life was REALLY like during the time periods along with all the sights, sounds, and tastes. And if possible, I'd love to see some of the real characters that I've based some of my stories on.

I hope to hear from you! I love to connect and you can find me in any one of these places:

My New Writing Buddy
It’s been a pleasure to get to know you and your new book. I just received it yesterday and I’m anxious to start reading it. Love the cover it grabs your attention right away.

I’m THRILLED that Bethany House is giving away 10 copies of your new book Unending Devotion this month @TBCN. Thanks for stopping by.

Blessings to you and your writing Jody!


Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


 NOT on this Blog post. Last Day to Enter Drawing is Sept 22nd.

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