Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Chat with J. M. Hochstetler

It’s my turn for a Friday chat, so let me share a little bit about me. Many of you know me as the author of a long, sprawling series set during the American Revolution. Book four, Crucible of War, released in September, and I’ve begun work on book 5, with 2 (or perhaps 3, if I get too wordy!) books left to go. However, my interest in history extends beyond all things early American to European medieval history (Holy Roman Empire), Roman history, WWII, Vietnam, plus several other eras as well, to a lesser extent. I’m also very interested in archaeology and have done a lot of reading in the field since I was in elementary school.

I’m the daughter of Mennonite farmers and grew up on a farm near Kokomo in central Indiana. I graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages, and I’m a rabid IU basketball fan (Go Hoosiers!!). With the basketball season rapidly approaching, you’ll no doubt see me posting about the games on Facebook from time to time. I’m especially pleased that my oldest grandson has ambitions to earn a basketball scholarship to IU.

In the early 1990s I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I filled several temp positions at Vanderbilt University for a while before becoming executive assistant to the director of The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center on campus. Part of my job was to serve as an associate producer on a weekly television program we produced that focused on First Amendment rights and was broadcast nationally on PBS for a couple of years. I was basically a glorified gofer, but it was a fun job and I met a lot of interesting people. I left that position to become an editor with Abingdon Press (The United Methodist Publishing House) for twelve years before establishing my own small press, Sheaf House Publishers, which specializes in Christian fiction.

My interest in the American colonial and Revolutionary War eras grew out of the experiences of my Amish Mennonite ancestors who came to this country from Europe in 1738 seeking religious freedom. My cousin, author Bob Hostetler, and I started writing a novel titled Northkill that is based on the massacre of three family members on the Pennsylvania frontier in 1757 during the French and Indian War, the Indian captivity of the attack’s survivors, and their eventual return home. We’ve neglected it lately due to other projects, and we need to get back to it!

My husband is a retired United Methodist pastor, and we recently moved back to Indiana, this time to Elkhart, which is just below the Michigan border. Both of us have three daughters and numerous grandchildren and step-grandchildren. I love doing craft projects, especially scrapbooking, and gardening is one of my passions. This fall I’ve just about killed myself landscaping our yard with clearance table finds. Love digging in the dirt! I’ve been an avid reader since becoming acquainted with Dick and Jane, and I have a special fondness for historical texts, biographies, and novels of adventure, intrigue, and romance. That’s why I write what I do!

You’ll find my personal website at and my American Patriot Series website at I also have a blog that focuses on the series: I don’t update it nearly enough, and I have several other blogs that have been languishing while I work on my series. I have good intentions, but I admit I become a bit obsessed when I’m working on a project!

If you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!


Elaine Marie Cooper said...

Joan, you know that I share your passion for early American history! So happy to have become cyber friends and I hope we can someday meet in person. I also love to grovel in the garden's dirt, but my knees are starting to complain! (Rather loudly, I'm afraid!) I think I was just drawn to history like a bee to a sweet flower. When my parents would visit historical sites in MA, I just savored the uniqueness of Early America—the styles, the writing, the homes—but I think I was mostly drawn to the people's bravery amidst the dangers they faced every day. Very soul-stirring.

Jocelyn Green said...

Joan, thanks so much for sharing with us! I loved the "inside scoop" on you. I totally relate to languishing blogs, and from one writer to another, may I just say--let them languish while you're writing a book! (That way I will feel better about my own neglect.) Best wishes on your current project!

J. M. Hochstetler said...


I'm very delighted that we've become cyber buddies too, and hopefully one day we'll meet in the flesh. :-) I also was drawn to early American history because of the courage and determination of the early colonists. The courage they demonstrated and the sacrifices they made to establish a nation out of a wilderness and then fight the greatest superpower of their day to preserve their freedom is almost unimaginable. They were truly heroes, and I pray that through our stories we can inspire people today to remember and take our freedoms seriously.

Oy--I'm with you about the complaining knees. lol! Getting older is no fun, especially when it limits doing some of the things we enjoy the most!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Jocelyn, you make a good point. We can get so involved with things that are good in themselves, but not so good if they take time away from our first calling, which is to write the books God has laid on our hearts. Thank you for your good wishes, and I'm sending mine right back at'cha!

Carla Olson Gade said...

So nice learning more about you, Joan! Your love for early American history inspires me.