Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 1 Interview with J.M. Hochstetler - Immersing Herself in History

Award-winning author J. M. Hochstetler, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, grew up on a farm near Kokomo, Indiana. A graduate of Indiana University, she is a publisher, professional editor, and lifelong student of history. She is the author of the American Patriot Series, set during the American Revolution, and with Bob Hostetler coauthored Northkill, Book 1 of the Northkill Amish Series. Her contemporary novel One Holy Night, is a modern-day retelling of the Christmas story.

Joan is giving away a copy of her new novel, Valley of the Shadow, or any one of the previous books in the American Patriot Series. For details on how to enter the drawing, click the link at the end of this post.

Welcome to PASTimes, Joan. Tell us a little about what you write.

I write primarily historical fiction. I’ve also published a novel set during the Vietnam War, which is considered contemporary since too many of us oldsters are still around who lived through the period for it to be considered historical. Do you realize that happened a half century ago? Yikes!

Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

I’m also the publisher of my own small press, Sheaf House Publishers, so I divide my time between writing and running a small business. There’s always something tugging me one way or the other. My major challenge is balancing those 2 careers with my personal life. I have a husband, children, and grandchildren who actually want to have a relationship with me! Although they often provide interruptions in my day, they’re also a much-needed corrective for this workaholic.

What historical time periods interest you the most and how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?

The European medieval, American colonial/Revolutionary War, and WWII periods draw me the most. My main focus for some years has been the Revolution, the setting of my American Patriot Series. This period is a gold mine for writers because it offers so many great leaders—American, British, French, Native American—and so many thrilling, intriguing, and romantic events to weave into a story. Recently I’ve also been working on the Northkill Amish Series with a cousin, multi-published author Bob Hostetler, which is set 20 years earlier during the French and Indian War. It’s the story of our Hochstetler ancestors and is set among the Amish, which is a considerable twist.

I immerse myself in a period by studying the best nonfiction resources and online resources I can find. I’m also a member of groups like Novel Pastimes and Colonial Quills, where we share a love of all things historical and can pick each other’s brains. I also love to attend historical reenactments; there’s no better way to get the real taste, touch, sound, and smell of a period. And, of course, I devour historical novels. I glean an amazing number of details from fiction that add authenticity to my stories. Of course, I always cross-check what I find to weed out anything that isn’t accurate.

Introduce us briefly to the main characters in your most recent book.

Elizabeth Howard is the daring, resourceful, and beautiful daughter of well-connected Boston Tories whose contacts with high-level British officers provide her access to a wealth of intelligence the patriots need. Her maternal uncle and paternal aunt are deeply involved with the rebels, and through them she’s drawn into an increasingly perilous role as a spy, courier, and smuggler for the Sons of Liberty.

Jonathan Carleton is a British officer at the beginning of the series, and I won’t give any spoilers by explaining how his role changes during the course of Book 1, Daughter of Liberty. The younger son of one of King George II’s closest advisors and the adopted son of his enormously wealthy uncle, he is a handsome, charming rogue whose devilish ways conceal unsuspected secrets. As his and Elizabeth’s paths inevitably converge, they fight a war of wits and words—and a passion that could lead them both to the gallows.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on Book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series, The Return. This series is closely based on the inspiring story of my Hochstetler ancestors, who emigrated from Europe in 1738 and settled in the Northkill Amish community on the Pennsylvania frontier. In 1757 during the French and Indian War, their home was attacked by a party of Delaware and Shawnee warriors allied with the French. Three family members were killed and 3 were carried off into captivity, returning years later. Their story has been documented in many publications and in contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and private collections, so we have a wealth of material to work with in recreating their lives.

Don't miss tomorrow's interview. Also Joan is giving away one of her American Patriot Series novels. The winner gets to chose which one. To enter the drawing, click the link below and follow the instructions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kim Amundsen said...

Book looks very interesting. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Kim Amundsen said...

I would say George Washington our first president.

Caryl Kane said...

FABULOUS interview with Jan. I am grateful for our founding fathers declaring America a Christian Nation The American Patriot Series sounds amazing!

psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

Amy C said...

I am most interested in Mad Anthony Wayne because I am one of his descendants. There's a really strange about his burial which includes a ghost story to it. :)

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Great choice, Kim! Washington was definitely the right man in the right place at the right time, that's for sure, and he set a lot of precedents for us today. Thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing, and good luck!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Caryl, we owe so much to our founding fathers--and mothers too! Thank you for stopping by and good luck in the drawing!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Amy, Mad Anthony Wayne sure was a very interesting character. It's really cool that you're descended from him! You'll have to share the story of his burial--I'm not familiar with that, and it's the perfect time of year for a ghost story. lol! Thanks for entering the drawing, and good luck!

Sydney Anderson said...

What a great interview!! Thanks for the post and the giveaway!! I would love to read one of Joan's books. :)

Deanna Stevens said...

I think Ethan Allen was a pretty interesting fellow.
An American Revolutionary War patriot, hero and politician.

dkstevensne AToutlook (dot) com

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Sydney, thanks for stopping by and entering the drawing! Let us know who is your most interesting person from the American Revolution. :-)

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Deanna, Ethan Allen is a great choice! Talk about rugged individualism and patriotism, he definitely personified it. lol! Good luck in the drawing!

Anonymous said...

My fave figure is probably George Washington!! Enjoyed the post, Joan!!


Amy C said...

Hi J.M.!
Here's part of the story from Wikipedia. "Wayne died of complications from gout on December 15, 1796, during a return trip to Pennsylvania from a military post in Detroit, and was buried at Fort Presque Isle (now Erie, Pennsylvania) where the modern Wayne Blockhouse stands. His body was disinterred in 1809 and, after the body was boiled to remove the remaining flesh, as many bones as possible where placed into two saddlebags and relocated by his son Isaac Wayne to the family plot in St. David's Episcopal Church cemetery in Radnor, Pennsylvania.[12] A legend says that many bones were lost along the roadway that encompasses much of modern U.S. Route 322, and that every January 1 (Wayne's birthday), his ghost wanders the highway searching for his lost bones."