Author Jody Hedlund is not only a fantastic writer, but she is one of the most generous, kind bloggers online. Her advice to writers and stories from her publishing journey have meant so much to me and to countless others. Here are some of her thoughts on writing and her process specific to THE DOCTOR’S LADY.
What was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?
This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.
What percentage of The Doctor’s Lady is true? And how much did you add?
As with any story of historical fiction, the large majority of what I’ve written was truly from the depths of my imagination, all of my creative meanderings of “what could have happened.”
However, in my research of the Whitmans, I drew from numerous biographies. While I wasn’t able to stick to every historical detail in complete accuracy, most of the story outline is taken directly from Narcissa’s diary.
I tried to follow the trail they took west as closely as possible. While I was unable to include every stop and incident of their travel for the sake of brevity, I did try to capture the essence of their journey. I included their travel first by sleigh, then steamboat, and lastly by wagon and horse.
Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the book where I explain in more detail which specific incidents came from the pages of her diary and what I made up for the sake of the story
How long did it take to write the book? What was most challenging?
The research took six to eight weeks. I wrote the first draft in approximately five months and fell in love with it.
However, the editing phase was the most challenging. Somehow in the first draft, I gave my main characters problems and character arcs that were too unlikable. My editors encouraged me to revamp my characters so that they would be more positive and appealing to readers. The editing phase took much longer than I’d anticipated and spanned several months, including two sets of major rewrites.
What’s coming next?
In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.
The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.
Where can readers find you?
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
Finally, I’ll leave you all with this fabulous book trailer for THE DOCTOR’S LADY. Enjoy!