Welcome back, Joan. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Ultimately, God led me to writing and has given me the stories to write. Since I come from an Amish/Mennonite background, I was steeped in history from day one. Faith, family, church, and community are very important to the Amish and Mennonites, and the Hochstetler family has an especially interesting history that’s well known in the community and is regularly recounted. So that had a powerful impact on my life and interests.
I love to research and 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. And over the years, I’ve grown very concerned that Americans today know so little about the founding of our nation. I’d hate to see us lose the legacy handed down to us by those who laid everything on the line to ensure our freedom, but I genuinely believe we’re in danger of that happening.
With the American Patriot Series, my goal is to write the only comprehensive fiction series on the American Revolution—portraying all aspects of it, including the experience of colonists, African Americans, Native Americans, and women. It’s been fascinating and fun—not to mention a real education!
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’d have to say the day I was baptized. That’s the most deeply meaningful experience I’ve ever had—to come before the church, the body of Christ, and make that confession of faith in my Savior.
I agree. Most of the really meaningful times in my life have been related to the Lord. How has being published changed your life?
Oh, goodness, it’s gotten a whole lot busier! On the plus side, I’ve met many so wonderful people and gone places I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve also become more confident out of sheer necessity. On the minus side, my writing time and family time are more limited than I wish they were.
What are you reading right now?
I’m just finishing up Michelle Griep’s Gallimore. Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus, who is a dear friend, is next on my list. I read the rough draft, and I loved the story, so I’m really looking forward to reading the published version.
I just finished reading Stand-In Groom. There'll be a review in my March newsletter. http://lenanelsondooleynewsletter.blogspot.com What is your current work in progress?
I actually have 2 that I’m working on: Northkill, a fictionalized version of the story of my Amish Mennonite ancestors, and Crucible of War, book 4 of my series.
What would be your dream vacation?
Hawaii. Or the English Isles. Or Germany. Or Italy and Greece…. Sigh.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
For the series, that’s easy. Each volume is set in the time and place the actual events I’m covering occurred. So is Northkill. One Holy Night was more of a challenge. First I had to decide when to set the story. I finally settled on 1967, during the Vietnam War, because I was in high school and college during most of those years, and like other young people of the time, the war had a big impact on my life. Then I needed a location where a blizzard could plausibly take place. Since I’d been to Minneapolis some years earlier, I finally decided to set the story in that area because it was somewhat familiar.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Oh, that’s a difficult one. Hmmm…I think probably Sarah Palin. Anybody who, in just a few years, can go from being a hockey mom to being the governor of a state, and then to running for vice president has my admiration. I totally agree with her pro-life position, and she also seems to be a hoot. I think we’d share a lot of laughs and have some pretty profound conversation too.
I'd love to be at that meeting. I share that strong pro-life position, too. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to garden and do crafts. Last summer I started scrapbooking, and it’s driving me crazy that I haven’t had time to work on my projects this winter. I also have a great deal of interest in interior decoration. HGTV is one of my favorite channels. I’d redo my house every other year if I could afford it. And I love to travel.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’ve never had writer’s block, and I love to do research, so those have never been obstacles for me. Dedicating time to writing is the greatest hurdle I’ve faced. I’m either too covered up with other business to write…or I fritter my time away with all kinds of unimportant little projects. I suspect most writers relate to that! I need to have a deadline hanging over my head to keep me motivated!
I'm a lot like that, too. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Never give up! I know you’ve heard that before, and you may be wondering, what’s the point? Well, I’ve been on the verge of quitting more times than I want to admit, even after I had a couple of books published, so I totally relate to the pain of rejection. But if writing is your calling from the Lord, then remain faithful no matter what the cost. He has a plan and a purpose for the stories he gives you, and it will come to pass if you endure. If you quit, I guarantee that the blessing he meant for you will go to someone else who refuses to give up.
Tell us about the featured book.
Wind of the Spirit is the 3rd book of my American Patriot Series, which is set during the American Revolution. The story resumes with Elizabeth Howard scrambling for crucial intelligence General George Washington must have if the Americans are to stop the British from capturing New York City. Elizabeth’s assignment leads her into the very maw of war at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, where disaster threatens to end the American rebellion.
Yet all the while her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton, whose whereabouts remain unknown more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness while on assignment for Washington. She has no way of knowing that Carleton, now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, is caught in a bitter war of his own. As unseen forces gather to finally destroy him, he leads the fight against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands—while he battles the longing for Elizabeth that will not give him peace.
With Washington poised to make a last-ditch gamble to save the American cause at Trenton, and the British closing in on Carleton’s whereabouts, Elizabeth rejoins Colonel Charles Andrews on a desperate journey to find Carleton before he is captured and executed for treason. They find him at last . . . and all three of their lives are changed forever.
Very interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Web site is www.jmhochstetler.com .
I have several blogs, which I update when I can find the time: http://americanpatriotseries.blogspot.com
You can also learn more about my books on the Sheaf House Web site at www.sheafhouse.com .
Thank you for spending this time with us, Joan.
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