1. How did you come up with the idea for Undaunted Hope?
For this third book in my Michigan lighthouse series, I wanted to pick a location that was different than the other books. The first two books, Love Unexpected and Hearts Made Whole, are set in the "Mitten" of Michigan. So to add variety to the series, I decided to place Undaunted Hope in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.
In doing my research of Michigan lighthouses, I learned that there are lighthouses dotted all over the coast of Lake Superior since it was such a treacherous lake to traverse and an important place for steamers due to the rich natural resources that were available. As I studied the various lighthouses, I finally landed upon Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in the Keweenau Peninsula because not only was the area rich in resources, but it was rich in history and the makings of a really great story!
2. What special research did you do in writing Undaunted Hope?
As I wrote this third book in the Beacon's of Hope Lighthouse Series, I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Eagle Harbor and the lighthouse that serves as the setting for this book. In fact, I was able to stay for a whole week in the assistant keeper's cottage that now sits next to the lighthouse.
The large covered front porch of the assistant keeper's house overlooked Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior, so it was a gorgeous view! Every morning I woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and every evening I watched the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I've ever stayed.
Not only did I get to do in-depth research on the lighthouse (and walk around inside it as many times as I wanted!), but I also was able to research the entire area taking lots of pictures of the lake, flowers, wildlife, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the peninsula. It's a remote wilderness area of Michigan, sparsely populated, and cold! I visited at the end of June and brought short sleeve shirts. I had to wear sweatshirts almost every day instead.
3. The location of Undaunted Hope is in the Keweenaw Peninsula of upper Michigan. Tell us a little bit about what makes this setting unique.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is known as "Copper County" because it has a rich vein of copper running down the center of the peninsula. In the 1800's early explorers to the region discovered the copper. And by the mid 1800's miners and their families were flocking to the numerous towns that formed around the mines.
Due to the decline of the copper mining industry in England at approximately the same time as the mining boom in Michigan's UP, many Cornish immigrants came to the Keweenau Peninsula to continue mining. To this day, the Cornish have left a heritage in the area including homemade famous "Pasties" that can be found at most local restaurants. These were the hot meat pies that miners would carry in their pockets down into the mines to eat for their midday meals.
The bustling copper mining community was a rough and wild area that resembled the Old West. If the danger from the mines wasn't enough, the residents also faced incredibly harsh winters where they were cut off from supplies from the lower part of Michigan.
Nowadays, except for a few tourist towns, the area is a graveyard of ghost towns and abandoned mines. During my research trip, I was able to walk deep underground in one of those old mines and get a firsthand look at just how dark, damp, and dangerous the mining life was.
This is an interesting bit of history about the area, Jody- I'm particularly intrigued as my great-grandmother was from Calumet, about 20 miles away, and her father was a copper miner.
4. In your other lighthouse books, the heroines are inspired by real women keepers. Did you use a real light keeper as part of the inspiration for the heroine in Undaunted Hope?
Most of us gravitate toward the stories that glamorize lighthouse life and honor the women who served in them. That's only natural. And I hope in my other two books in this series, I give those women the laud due to them.
However, I didn't want to neglect the women who served in lighthouses whose experiences weren't quite as glamorous, who served even though they disliked the duty. One woman in particular inspired this book. Her name was Cecelia Carlson McLean who was married to keeper Alexander McLean who served at various lighthouses around Lake Superior. When she was interviewed later in her life, Cecelia was very forthright in stating that she hated lighthouses, that they were lonely places, and that she'd had to sacrifice a great deal to live in them. She claimed that if she had to do it over, she wouldn't choose life in a lighthouse.
Of course her story made me think about the many hardships that light keeping entailed, especially for women–the extreme isolation, the lack of luxury, and the constant threat of danger. So out of Cecelia's hardships, I created Tessa and tried to imagine the underlying motivations for what might cause someone to hate lighthouses. Although I had Tessa work through some of her fears and dislike of lighthouses, I'm sure most women like Cecelia took their resentment of lighthouses with them to the grave.
5. What have you enjoyed most in writing this lighthouse series?
Over the past couple of years of writing this series, I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit numerous lighthouses throughout the state. Not only have I attempted to visit the lighthouses that are used as settings for the books, but I've also been inspired to visit many others. Every time I do, I learn a little bit more about how lighthouses were operated and have come to realize that they're all so unique.
During the past summer of 2015 I toured several lighthouses including: Tawas Point Lighthouse, St. Joseph Lighthouses, and Mackinac City Lighthouse.
Each time I climb a tower, reach the top, and gaze out at the spectacular view, I'm always amazed by the beauty. I never tire of the experience and can completely understand the fascination so many people have with lighthouses. I think I caught the "lighthouse bug" and will forever be visiting them!
6. You have a busy publication schedule in 2016! In addition to Undaunted Hope, can you tell us what other books we have to look forward to?
My second young adult novel, A Daring Sacrifice, releases in March. I'm super excited about this reverse twist on the Robin Hood story set during medieval times.
In June, Forever Safe releases. This is a fourth lighthouse book that involves a very special character. While the first three books are set at all Michigan lighthouses, this fourth book moves to the East Coast to Race Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Finally in October, my second historical will release. Following in the same vein as my Luther and Katharina book, I will be bringing to life another historical couple. I hope to reveal the couple, title, and cover in the next few months!
7. Do you have any parting words?
I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
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My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
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~ Now the Giveaway ~
1 (one) blessed reader will win a copy of Jody Hedlund's
newest book Hope Undaunted!
Open to US residents only.