I am so excited to chat today with author Jody Hedlund! Her newest book, Undaunted Hope, tells the story of Tessa Taylor, a teacher in for an unwelcome surprise when she arrives at her new job. Set in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, it’s full of romance and vivid characters and history. With a little sass and suspense thrown in for good measure 😉 Watch for a review here in the next couple of weeks!
Jody: Yes, my first lighthouse book (Love Unexpected) is set at Presque Isle which is on Lake Huron on the north eastern side of the state. The second book (Hearts Made Whole) is set at Windmill Point Lighthouse that once existed on Lake St. Clair near Detroit.
Undaunted Hope is set at Eagle Harbor Lighthouse which is in the far north of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In fact, it’s about as far north as you can go in Michigan. During the mining boom in the Upper Peninsula, Eagle Harbor saw a rapid increase in the commerce in the area with ships arriving to supply miners as well as load up the valuable copper that was being mined. Due to the dangers of a rocky ledge in the harbor, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse was established in 1851 to guide ships safely to and from the docks in the harbor.
Jody: As I researched the area and the Keweenau Peninsula, I came across the diary of a real school teacher, Henry Hobart, who lived and taught in Clifton which was just a few miles down the road from Eagle Harbor. He wrote a detailed account of his life as a school teacher to the mining children.
I loved reading his diary and learning about all he experienced, especially those unique things that came with being in such a remote area of Michigan and living among the mining community.
I used many of Hobart’s experiences in Undaunted Hope. For example, he boarded with a Cornish family, the Rawlings, and Mr. Rawlings was a prominent mine engineer and mechanic. So I had Tessa board with this particular family. Hobart faced many hardships like bedbugs, lice, scarlet fever, the harsh winter, and much more. So again, I had Tessa experience many of those same things.
Eagle Harbor itself has an old one-room school house now known as the Rathbone School House. While it’s no longer in use and serves as a museum, during my research trip I was able to visit it. I used it as the inspiration for the school house in this book.
Jody: Most of us gravitate toward the stories that glamorize lighthouse life and honor the women who served in them. That’s only natural. And I hope in my other two books in this series, I give those women the laud due to them.
However, I didn’t want to neglect the women who served in lighthouses whose experiences weren’t quite as glamorous, who served even though they disliked the duty. One woman in particular inspired this book. Her name was Cecelia Carlson McLean who was married to keeper Alexander McLean who served at various lighthouses around Lake Superior. When she was interviewed later in her life, Cecelia was very forthright in stating that she hated lighthouses, that they were lonely places, and that she’d had to sacrifice a great deal to live in them. She claimed that if she had to do it over, she wouldn’t choose life in a lighthouse.
Of course her story made me think about the many hardships that light keeping entailed, especially for women–the extreme isolation, the lack of luxury, and the constant threat of danger. So out of Cecelia’s hardships, I created Tessa and tried to imagine the underlying motivations for what might cause someone to hate lighthouses. Although I had Tessa work through some of her fears and dislike of lighthouses, I’m sure most women like Cecelia took their resentment of lighthouses with them to the grave.
Jody: I’ve lived in central Michigan for the past sixteen years. All but one of my five children have been born in Michigan, and this is where I’ve raised my family. So Michigan definitely has a special place in my heart.
Not only has it been a wonderful place to raise a family, but it’s also a beautiful state. Michigan is a peninsula and is bordered by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, giving it approximately 3,200 miles of shoreline which is the most of any state except Alaska. Michigan not only has lots of beaches and sand dunes and hiking trails and state parks, but it also is home to the most lighthouses.
Aside from the beauty of the state (which makes for very picturesque book settings!), Michigan has a rich history due to the lumber and mining era that attracted many settlers to the state, but also attracted plenty of colorful and dangerous characters as well.
All that to say, Michigan is full of wonderful, interesting, and fascinating stories of real life people. I’ve only begun to touch on some of those people, and I hope that I’ll be able to bring more of them to life in the future.
Jody: My oldest son is a freshmen in college, attending Cedarville University in Ohio. He enjoyed playing JV basketball there this past fall. My twin daughters are sixteen and driving now. Need I say more! 🙂
My youngest son is in junior high and usually has a new hobby that he’s attempting to master. After learning origami, he moved on to yo-yo’s. And now he’s currently becoming a Rubik’s Cube pro.
My darling baby daughter is in fifth grade and loves ballet. Since I don’t have a graceful bone in my body, she amazes me with her beautiful and poised dancing.
Jody: My husband and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage this year! Can you believe it?! He continues to be a Christian counselor with his own private practice. He supports me one hundred and ten percent in my career, the same way I support him in his. We tag team most of our family responsibilities, each of us working together to ensure that our family runs smoothly! Of course, we have plenty of roadblocks and crashes upon the path we travel with our family, but we trust that God uses every bump and bruise to his glory.
Jody: I pray that this story will encourage readers with renewed hope. Just like Tessa, I hope that readers will find the strength to face their fears. We all have things that frighten us, and many times we find it easier to run away from those things that scare us.
Sometimes, however, God calls us to walk directly into that thing we fear most. He wants us to know that during those times, he’s there walking right beside us and that he’ll help us come out on the other side stronger as a result.
I am so thankful to Jody Hedlund for taking the time to answer these questions for us! She has a busy 2016 on the horizon. In addition to Undaunted Hope, Jody’s second YA novel A Daring Sacrifice releases in March. (You can read my review of the first book in that series, An Uncertain Choice, by clicking here.) In June, Forever Safe releases, the fourth book in the Beacons of Hope series. This installment takes the series out of Michigan and moves east to Race Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Finally, Jody’s second historical will release in October, bringing to life another historical couple as she did in Luther and Katharina. Whew!! I can’t wait 😀
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About the Author:
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both adults and teens.
As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.
She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.
Connect with Jody Hedlund online: