Interview With Author Jody Hedlund

# Please introduce yourself and your books!

I’ve been married for over thirty years to my college sweetheart. My husband has been one of my biggest cheerleaders over the years, doing his best to understand and support my writing even in the days when publication was only the whisper of a dream.

We have five children and my youngest is still in high school. I find myself entering a new stage of life, a mostly-empty nest. It’s still busy around my home with lots going on, but as my kids have matured, I’ve been able to devote more of my time and longer stretches to my writing career.

I’m a historical romance writer but have several sub-genres that I write including historical romance, bio-fiction, medieval young adult, and now time travel.

# What is the real-life story behind Come Back to Me?

My new release, Come Back to Me is a time travel novel. In doing research for this book, I wanted to create a story where time crossing could sound at least partly believable.

As I began researching for the novel, I read accounts of people waking up from their comas and describing having very realistic dreams while in their comatose states, dreams that almost felt as if they were living an alternate life.

I also did quite a bit of research into ancient holy water, once believed to cure diseases and give realistic visions. The holy water was sold in medieval times to pilgrims in small a small flask known as an ampulla. There are many recorded healings and visions from such holy water. Some are even written in the stained-glass Miracle Windows in Canterbury Cathedral.

After all that research, I decided to merge the concepts of a coma and holy water as my “vehicle” for transporting people into the past became. The characters in my story drink a small amount of holy water which then puts them in a coma while they cross over to the Middle Ages in a quest to find more of the holy water.

Of course, having a body in two eras created some hurdles to work through during the writing and editing. But overall, when readers put the book down at the end, my hope is that they’ll come away wondering, like the characters, if crossing into the past was just a realistic dream or if it truly happened.

# What inspired your creativity?

Since time travel is largely science fiction, most of my ideas came straight from my own imagination! However, in trying to make the concepts believable, I did draw on many of the current physics concepts surrounding breaching time and space. In addition to general research on the popular theories, I read The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli as well as Seven Brief Lessons on Physics also by Rovelli. While I don’t delve too heavily into the scientific terminology and theories, I learned enough to flavor the series with realistic possibilities.

I also had to do quite a bit of research into the Tree of Life and miracles associated with holy water or holy oil. Many people throughout history spoke of life-giving water sources that supposedly could heal diseases or make a person more youthful. I read about the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great, the stories of Prester John from the early Crusades, and the claims of Ponce de Leon during his explorations of Florida.

Interestingly, the curative holy water healings are recorded throughout history at various places throughout England, France, and even Italy. So while nothing has ever been proven about holy water, history certainly leaves us many clues that point to it being special. Was it associated with the original Tree of Life? Of course, we’ll never know. But it’s certainly fun to speculate what made water heal people at certain times in history.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I make a commitment to write and stick to it no matter what. I give myself a daily word count of how much I need to write, and I stick to it as best as I can. Whatever amount I miss one day, I try to make up on another day of that week. Having the daily/weekly goals helps keep me going even when I’m not in the mood.

However, if I ever get into a slump, I put in my earbuds and listen to music. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

As a historical writer, a big mistake is getting a historical fact wrong no matter how carefully we try to keep the facts accurate. With Come Back to Me, I was fortunate to have a medieval expert read through the book ahead of time and help me fact-check.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I look for themes, moods, character arcs, and inspirational messages. I put all those factors together as I narrow down title ideas. For covers, I try to look at comparables to my book that I really like and use those as a starting place, looking at what I like and don’t like about other covers before giving suggestions to my publisher.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

Over the years, I’ve developed a tough skin for criticism. Even so, I generally don’t read negative reviews because usually a reading experience is very subjective, and I fully realize not everyone will like my books.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I’ve found a plan that works for me!

1. I plan writing time into my daily schedule. And I set a daily word and weekly word count goal. (As a side note, that goal has increased over the years. I used to be able to only write 300 words a day. But I made myself do it and complete one book a year that way. Now, I can write 3000 words a day and write multiple books a year. The point is that I started out low and slow but remained diligent.)

2. I don’t let any excuses keep me from my scheduled writing time. Nothing is an excuse (outside a major catastrophe!), not tiredness, not appointments, not phone calls, not interruptions from family. Nothing.

3. I give myself writing sprints. I work for 30 minutes with a short goal. When I finish, I give myself permission to get up, go to the bathroom, check email, for a minute or two, then I start another writing sprint.

4. I’ve learned to just write. We can’t worry about if we’re doing it right, if our prose is pretty, or what other people might think. Turn off the internal editor and let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad. Instead, just write.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

Oh, the Middle Ages are full of so many surprising details! I think that’s one of the reasons why I love writing in that era. It’s just rife with inherent danger that helps make plotting so much fun.

One of the things I found most interesting was the history behind the Hundred Years War which our wonderful, swoony hero has been fighting in for the past ten years of his life. I was entirely fascinated to think of men leaving home for such extended periods of time and fighting such brutal battles. In fact, the account of the tragedy Will experiences with his brother is based off accounts knight who fought in that war.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I have learned over time to blend the two. I write the exact kind of story I love to read. But as I look for plot and setting ideas, I always keep in mind my readership so that I don’t veer off from the kinds of stories that they like too.

# What are your plans for future books?

Currently there are two books in my Waters of Time series slated for release. Come Back to Me released June 1. The second book, Never Leave Me releases in Jan. of 2022 and takes up the story of two minor characters in Book 1, involving Marian’s close friend Harrison as well as her sister Ellen.

As far as a third book in the series, I’ve definitely set up the second book with two characters whose story I would love to tell. But as with all series, I’m waiting to see how readers like this series first before writing that third book. If I get enough interest from fans in the series, I could be persuaded to keep going.

# How can people best stay connected with you?

The best place is on my website jodyhedlund.com. I have a contact box that allows writers to write an email to me. Another great place to connect is in my Facebook Reader Room. It’s a FB group where I chat and hang out with readers. It’s also a place where readers can sign up for early reading opportunities.