Summer is in full-swing and if you are like me, you're baking in the heat and giving thanks for AC! *teehee*
It was such an honor to feature Tracie Peterson last month and I hope you were able to read her little interview and get to know her better. I just love her!!! Don't forget she has another book coming out soon...but I'll keep you posted on the release date, don't worry.
I couldn't be more thrilled about this month's author! Joan Hochstetler is a WONDERFUL author and if you haven't read any of her amazing novels, well now's your chance! *wink*
I've just reviewed DAUGHTER OF LIBERTY, a book that I truly loved, and Joan has graciously offered to do a giveaway!!! So, if you want to be entered, please comment below with your email address and I'll put your name in the hat.
Well, let's get on with it, shall we? Enjoy the interview!
Tell us about you!! Please include something funny/silly about yourself if you want!
I’m the daughter of Mennonite farmers and grew up on a farm near Kokomo, Indiana. I was a voracious reader from the time I made friends with Dick and Jane, but strangely enough as a young person I never had any ambition whatsoever to be a writer. I don’t recall writing any fiction at all. I really wanted to be an artist, but instead I got married and had babies, and life happened.
Then in 1977 I had this dream. Seriously! I had a dream one night that was so intriguing it kept haunting me. I finally decided that if I was going to make any sense of it, I was going to have to figure out who the characters were and what their story was, and the only logical way to do that was to write it all down. That turned into my epic medieval tragedy, which I swear I will get published someday! Anyway, that was the beginning of my life of adventure, intrigue, war, and romance.
What got me started writing about the American colonial period was The Scarlet Pimpernel, a fabulous TV movie from 1982 starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. It was set during the French Revolution. I absolutely ADORED it and knew immediately that I had to write my own version of the story. Alas, I wasn’t in the least interested in the French Revolution, and anyway there was no reason to duplicate that setting. Luckily we had our own Revolution, and my hero turned out to be a girl. And so the saga began . . .
So far 4 volumes of my American Patriot Series have been released, and I’ve also published one contemporary novel, One Holy Night, which was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year. It’s set to release in a new edition in October with a gorgeous new cover.
In my everyday persona, I’m an author, a professional editor, the publisher of a small press, Sheaf House Publishers, and the wife of a retired United Methodist pastor. I live in Elkhart, Indiana, and I have three daughters, four grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren.
Have you always had a passion for history? What draws you to this time period?
Passion . . . not so much when I was young. I doubt most kids are that interested in the past; they’re pretty much in the here and now. But in high school I enjoyed history and social studies, and that interest really took off in college.
I was raised in the Mennonite Church, and faith, family, church, and community are very important to Amish and Mennonites. The Hochstetler family has an especially interesting history that’s well known in the community and is regularly recounted. You’ll find a summary on my author website at http://www.jmhochstetler.com/hochstetler-family.html. In 1757, during the French and Indian War, my ancestors were caught up in one of the last Indian attacks on the border settlements in Pennsylvania. Three family members were killed, and three were carried off into captivity and returned some years later. That had a powerful impact on my life and interests, and, in fact, a distant cousin Bob Hostetler, a well-known author, and I are writing a fictional version of our ancestors’ story that we’re hoping to release by the first of the year. It’s a truly inspiring story.
That’s what first drew my attention to the colonial era, though my greatest area of interest has become the American Revolution. I love to do research and to learn about the lives of people in earlier times, and then bring the past to life for readers, especially for those who think they hate history. One of my greatest rewards is when I get feedback from readers who loved my books and mention that they never enjoyed history in school, but that my stories brought the era to life for them. I love that! That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
My greatest concern, though, is that knowledge of our history and the values and principles our nation was founded on is eroding at an alarming rate, which doesn’t bode well for our future. I hope through this series to spark a greater understanding of and appreciation for our Founding era and the heroic men and women who sacrificed so much to bring this nation to birth.
What is your favorite scripture story and why?
Of all the wonderful, inspiring stories the Bible contains, the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection touches me the most deeply. It reminds me how much my sins cost Him, and how very much God loves me to make such an incredible sacrifice for my salvation. There’s no more beautiful story in any book that exists.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three historical christian romance books would you take with you?
Oh, that’s a really hard question! There are so many good ones. Well, I’m going to go for 3 I haven’t read yet by authors whose work I especially enjoy. First would be Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening, Book 2 of the Ballantyne Legacy Series, which releases in September. I’ve read book 1 and can’t wait to read the upcoming volumes in the series.
Second would be new author Lori Benton’s sophomore novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, which comes out in April 2014. Her debut novel, Burning Sky, comes out this month, and it’s excellent! One of my all-time favorite historical novels is Siri Mitchell’s A Heart Most Worthy, and I love all her contemporary romances too. So my third choice would be She Walks in Beauty, which has gotten excellent reviews, and which I haven’t had the chance to read yet.
These ought to keep my mind off the burning desert sands while I’m a castaway!
Your characters are very strong and yet they have struggles like we all do. How do you create living/breathing characters?
A lot of what my characters go through relates in some way to my own struggles over the years and those of people close to me, and what I’ve learned in the process. That’s probably true for most authors; to a great extent we write out of personal experience. The truth is that it takes some living to get to the point where you’ve suffered enough of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, as Hamlet put it, before you develop the maturity to interpret life on a profound level. In other words, you have to get old. As the saying goes, sadder but wiser. It’s the rare young person who has that kind of insight, though there are the occasional prodigies—or perhaps they’re just daring enough to get their heads well bloodied early on and draw the connections!
Writing a long series, such as my American Patriot Series, allows you to get deeply into your characters, to know their histories, what shaped them, and the hidden depths of their personalities even outside the scope of the story. I have a great advantage in developing my characters because I’m setting them in the midst of the real events and people of the American Revolution. I simply allow them to interact with what’s going on around them in the natural way they would as individuals. Once you get to know your characters very well, it becomes relatively easy to discern how they would react, what actions they would initiate, and what their emotional responses would be. But not always. Sometimes they surprise me, and I love that!
Bio and contact info
An award-winning author and professional editor, J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers, a graduate of Indiana University, and a lifelong student of history. She is the author of the American Patriot Series, the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Her contemporary novel, One Holy Night, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Carol Award. She is also the publisher and editorial director of Sheaf House Publishers.
Her books are available on Christianbook.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Koorong, and other online retailers and can be ordered in bookstores. They can also be ordered from Sheaf House at www.sheafhousedirect.com or readers can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll also find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/joan.hochstetler.
How fun was that?! I love all the in-depth information you shared, Joan--thank you SO much for being on my blog this month!! I can't wait for people to get to know you like I have! You are truly making a difference with your stories in a time when this country really needs to be inspired and reminded of how great America is, and the rich history we share. Thank you again!
If you want to be entered to win Joan's first book DAUGHTER OF LIBERTY, don't forget to comment! God bless you all!