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.
1. You’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.
2. What'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, hiding from her tyrannical uncle who believes she was killed along with her father. Little does he know that the Cloaked Bandit, who has been robbing him and other noblemen at knife-point 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, 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 members of 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 duel brings about more challenges than either anticipated, especially as they learn they must sacrifice more than they’d ever imagined.
3. 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.
4. How is writing for a YA audience different than writing for an adult audience? What are the similarities?
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 books 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 heroines are a bit younger and so they are 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).
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.
5. What three tips do you have for beginning writers?
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
6. Where is your favorite reading spot?
Of course, I listen to audio books all the time—whether I’m exercising, driving my kids to activities, cooking, doing laundry, etc. So I read everywhere.
However, the one time a day that I actually read a paper copy of a book is at night. I always read every night in bed before going to sleep. I love being able to hold the book in my hands as I snuggle under my blankets into my pillows.
Connect with Jody:
On Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund
On Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Her website: jodyhedlund.com
On Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund