The Amish and Mennonites have a deep respect for Anabaptist history and their own genealogy, and they pass that interest down to their children. Growing up in the Mennonite church with parents who were raised Amish, I developed an interest in the stories of my ancestors, and that expanded to a fascination with related historical periods. When I began to read, I enjoyed historical fiction the most, so when I felt the calling to write, I naturally began writing the kinds of stories I loved to read—which I’m sure that’s typical of most authors.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
My wedding day and the birth of each of my daughters are all equal on my happiness meter. The birth of each of my grandchildren is a very close second.
How has being published changed your life?
It’s enriched my life through all the wonderful people I’ve met and the new friends I’ve made in the business and along the way. And it’s added a lot of stress because of the constant need to promote yourself and your books while writing that next story, all on top of the usual day to day. I love what I do, but it’s a lot more demanding than non-writers really understand, and that includes our families. I keep trying to clue them in, but they’re resistant to the message!
What are you reading right now?
I’m always reading historical resources on the period I’m writing about, which right now include
Richard M. Ketchum and The Philadelphia
Campaign by Stephen R. Taaffe. I’ve also been reading George Bush’s Decision Points, which I’m finding quite
interesting and insightful. But I live for story so I always have to have a
novel or two on hand to give me that fix. Right now on my Kindle I’m reading Lauraine
Snelling’s A Measure of Mercy, and
next I want to finally get to Dan Walsh’s The
Deepest Waters, which has been luring me for a while. Saratoga
What is your current work in progress?
That would be book 4 of my American Patriot Series, Crucible of War. With this volume, I’m officially at the midpoint of the series. Only 3 more to go!
What would be your dream vacation?
More than anything I’d love to travel to
Germany and Switzerland
to the places where my ancestors lived, and also tour the sites in Europe where the Anabaptists suffered persecution and
were forced to hide their faith and their worship. And then I’d follow it up
with a side trip to Italy and the Grecian Isles! Greek and Roman history is
another fascination of mine.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
With this series, it’s easy. I just consult my resources on the American Revolution and set the story wherever the main action is during the year I’m covering. Of course, it’s not that cut and dried with other my books. Generally I try to find a setting that fits the premise and needs of my story. In One Holy Night, which is set during the Vietnam War, I needed a location where a blizzard could believably happen at Christmastime, and the Minneapolis area fit. I have a Mennonite romance I keep tinkering with that’s set in the Kokomo, Indiana, area where I grew up. Because it’s loosely based on my parents’ love story (very loosely!), it takes place in 1945 at the end of WWII. I’m also working on a fictional treatment of the story of my ancestors’ massacre by a band of Indians during the French and Indian War, which is set in 1757 in the area of Pennsylvania where the attack took place.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
This may sound boring, but the truth is it would be my husband, Jay. He’s a transport driver for the RV industry, so he’s on the road a lot. Sometimes he’s out for a week or two, and I really look forward to when he gets home so we can hang out together.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to garden, do crafts, especially scrapbooking, go antiquing, and redecorate my home from time to time. What woman doesn’t? And, of course, read. And write.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
The hardest thing for me is planning the story out in advance. I’m a confirmed seat-of-the-pants writer, but that can lead you down some rabbit trails, so I’m very slowly learning to develop an overall vision of the story before I get too far down the road. Doing a formal outline or chapter by chapter synopsis, however, is not in the range of possibility. The few times I’ve tried to get that organized, I gave up in frustration before I got a quarter of the way through it. I know from the outset that everything is going to change once the story gets in motion, so what’s the point?
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Never give up. Strive for excellence. Educate yourself on the craft and the business. Learn to promote yourself and your books. And did I mention, never give up?
This volume focuses on 1777. There are battles, intrigue, and drama. Of course, there’s lots going on between my main characters, Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton, who are trying to make up for lost time now that they’re back together after being separated for a year and a half. Here’s a synopsis.
Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton rejoins General George Washington’s army to find the patriot cause on the verge of extinction. In a daring gamble, the small, ragged American force crosses the
on Christmas night 1776, to defeat British outposts at Trenton
and Princeton before vanishing into the mountain bastions around Morristown.
Back in New York City, Elizabeth Howard is drawn ever deeper into the intrigues that swirl around British General William Howe. With her Aunt Tess, she moves to Philadelphia in summer 1777 to gather intelligence while waiting for the British attack. Ambushed and almost captured as the Americans dig in at Brandywine Creek, Carleton is transferred to General Horatio Gates’s army in the upper Hudson Valley where British General John Burgoyne closes in on Saratoga. With decisive battles looming on every front, Elizabeth and Carleton face a crucible of war that tests their mettle, faith, and love for God and each other to the very limits.
Please give us the first page of the book.
An hour earlier the level of misery had finally surpassed the worst Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton had suffered as a slave of the Seneca.
Things hadn’t improved since then.
“I’ve spent merrier Christmases,” Colonel Charles Andrews shouted, his voice barely audible above the wind’s blast.
Carleton directed a wry glance at the two
warriors who hunched on either side of him, silent and grim-faced beneath their
heavy bearskins, with blankets hooded over their heads. Shifting from one foot
to the other in the effort to restore a measure of circulation, he drawled,
“Not to worry, Charles. Once we make the New Jersey
shore we’ve but to march a mere nine miles to reach Trenton.”
“A cheery prospect, considering that, if anything, this infernal storm’s getting worse.”
Squinting through the Stygian gloom against a driving sleet that felt as though it would scour the skin from his face, Carleton assessed the faintly blacker line of the frozen
shore still some distance ahead. Their progress toward it was agonizingly slow,
and at every moment the water’s surge drove jagged ice floes against their
clumsy vessel, threatening to either stave it in or capsize it. Or both.
The rising nor’easter that had plagued the Continental Army all the way to McKonkey’s Ferry, increasing in intensity while they embarked on a fleet of heavy black
Durham boats, ferries,
and other sturdy craft, showed no signs of diminishing and every sign of
worsening. Its shriek whipped away the creak of oars, the slap of water and thud
of ice, the stamp of horses’ hooves against the ferry’s planks and the animals’
occasional agitated squeals when their footing lurched beneath them.
“At least we will not drown—as long as we manage to reach shore,” he returned in the
“No,” Andrews grumbled in the same tongue. “We will freeze to death instead.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My main blog is http://americanpatriotseries.blogspot.comYou can also find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1293566725 And my fan page is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-American-Patriot-Series-by-J-M-Hochstetler/158849110800898
Thank you, Joan, for sharing this life history and new book with us.
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Daughter of Liberty (The American Patriot Series, Book 1) - paperback
Daughter of Liberty (The American Patriot Series) - Kindle
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