Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chat with Jody Hedlund about newest "Light House" novel, Undaunted Hope set in the Great Lakes Basin

After reading three of Jody Hedlund's novels set in the lake area of North America, I have garnered greater respect for the people who were the frontier workers and who have paved the way by the sweat of brow and toil of labor along with the heartache of deprivation from cold and ice and lack of food and medical needs. From ruthless weather and ruthless people. Yes. This was a hard area in which to live and so it is still today. But surely reading about these lighthouse keepers has given insight and made me more appreciative of their labors. And more fearful of these mighty bodies of water within the Great Lakes Basin.
Map of Great Lakes Basin from
Jody Hedlund has graciously answered some questions about writing these books and in particular the latest, Undaunted Hope.

1. How did you come up with the idea for Undaunted Hope?

For this third book in my Michigan lighthouse series, I wanted to pick a location that was different than the other books. The first two books, Love Unexpected and Hearts Made Whole, are set in the "Mitten" of Michigan. So to add variety to the series, I decided to place Undaunted Hope in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in Winter
In doing my research of Michigan lighthouses, I learned that there are lighthouses dotted all over the coast of Lake Superior since it was such a treacherous lake to traverse and an important place for steamers due to the rich natural resources that were available. As I studied the various lighthouses, I finally landed upon Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in the Keweenau Peninsula because not only was the area rich in resources, but it was rich in history and the makings of a really great story!

2. Each of your lighthouse books is set at a real lighthouse that once existed in Michigan or still does exist. Tell us a little about the lighthouse in this third book.
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.

3. What special research did you do in writing Undaunted Hope?

As I wrote this third book in the Beacon's of Hope Lighthouse Series, I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Eagle Harbor and the lighthouse that serves as the setting for this book. In fact, I was able to stay for a whole week in the assistant keeper's cottage that now sits next to the lighthouse.

The large covered front porch of the assistant keeper's house overlooked Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior, so it was a gorgeous view! Every morning I woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and every evening I watched the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I've ever stayed.

Not only did I get to do in-depth research on the lighthouse (and walk around inside it as many times as I wanted!), but I also was able to research the entire area taking lots of pictures of the lake, flowers, wildlife, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the peninsula. It's a remote wilderness area of Michigan, sparsely populated, and cold! I visited at the end of June and brought short sleeve shirts. I had to wear sweatshirts almost every day instead.

4. The heroines in the first two books actually live in lighthouses. In Undaunted Hope, the heroine is a school teacher. Why did you decide for her to be a school teacher instead of a light keeper?

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.

5. The location of Undaunted Hope is in the Keweenaw Peninsula of upper Michigan. Tell us a little bit about what makes this setting unique.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is known as "Copper County" because it has a rich vein of copper running down the center of the peninsula. In the 1800's early explorers to the region discovered the copper. And by the mid 1800's miners and their families were flocking to the numerous towns that formed around the mines.

Due to the decline of the copper mining industry in England at approximately the same time as the mining boom in Michigan's UP, many Cornish immigrants came to the Keweenau Peninsula to continue mining. To this day, the Cornish have left a heritage in the area including homemade famous "Pasties" that can be found at most local restaurants. These were the hot meat pies that miners would carry in their pockets down into the mines to eat for their midday meals.

The bustling copper mining community was a rough and wild area that resembled the Old West. If the danger from the mines wasn't enough, the residents also faced incredibly harsh winters where they were cut off from supplies from the lower part of Michigan.

Nowadays, except for a few tourist towns, the area is a graveyard of ghost towns and abandoned mines. During my research trip, I was able to walk deep underground in one of those old mines and get a firsthand look at just how dark, damp, and dangerous the mining life was.

6. This is now the sixth book that you've written with a Michigan setting. What draws you to write stories set in Michigan?

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.

7. Do you base the villain in Undaunted Hope on a real Michigan criminal as you do in previous books? If so, who did you pick this time?

The villain, Percival Updegraff, is based on a real rogue from Michigan history, Albert Molitor. Molitor lived in Rogers City and ruled as "king" over his wilderness lumbering community. He controlled who was hired and fired. He had a company store and held a monopoly on all food and merchandise.

He was also a sexual predator. Since he had so much control over the people who worked for him, if he took interest in a woman, he would walk into the woman's house and order her into bed. If she refused or resisted, he'd fire her husband and force the family to leave the company owned home.

He "ruled" this way until the people in the community finally revolted. They held secret meetings to plan to overthrow him. And while it took a couple of attempts, they attempted to assassinate him. He was mortally wounded and eventually died which finally freed the town of his cruelty.

Lake Superior
8. What do you hope readers take away from Undaunted Hope?

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.
Begins January 13
ENDS February 4  @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Regarding this post, I do very much like historical Christian fiction. The period I enjoy the most is in 1800's America, then WWII wherever the was has taken people. To gently learn history every time we read from 1700's to date often helps us see the history of our country, how it affected people, how we responded to it.

  2. Regarding the interview, I will understand some of the lifestyle of the people in Ms. Hedlund's latest novel better as it is based on the journal of a school teacher who lived then.
    The "villain" or bad guy was based on a real person in Michigan history. Both of these items, I believe, give an air of authenticity amid the fiction of perhaps most of the rest of the cast and their daily challenges.

  3. I love historical fiction. My favorite time period to read about spans from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. I know that is a big stretch. If I had to narrow it down a bit more, I would say late 1800s.

  4. I do love historical novels. I would almost always choose a historical novel over a contemporary. Usually my first choice of time periods is the mid to late 1800s in American history.

  5. In reading Jody's answers, I learned that pasties were of a Cornish heritage. I grew up in Michigan and did not know this.
    I also learned that there are many current ghost towns in the area of Eagle Harbor. It's sad, but I suppose when the industry died off the people left .

  6. I love historical novels, especially from the Regency and Colonial periods.

  7. This caught my eye from the author's interview because I was born and raised in Michigan: "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."

    I also found it interesting that her books are centered on lighthouses. My mother-in-law loves lighthouses, so I think these books would make great gifts for her.

  8. I really enjoy reading historical fiction but don't have a favorite time period.
    I think it's interesting that Jody used a diary of a school teacher as a basis for some experiences in her book. It's also interesting that the villian in the book is based on a real person.

  9. I love historical fiction. If I had to choose a favorite I would choose the 1800s.

  10. I learned that many of the main characters experiences are based on the diary of a real school teacher who lived in that time period. I also learned that Cornish immigrants came to Michigan to mine copper when the industry declined in England.

  11. I enjoy historical fiction and my favorite era to read about is the early 20th century.

  12. Jody Hedlund based her villian in Undaunted Hope on a real life Michigan "villain," Albert Molitor.

  13. I like to read about the late 1900's and early 1920's.

  14. I like reading historical novels from 1800 - 1900.I found out that many characters are from a teachers diary

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. I love historical novels that start in the 1800s and continue.i loved learning about the lighthouses and how hard it was to get to them. I collect lighthouses. I also enjoyed learning why Michigan is so dear to you. Having children born in that state dies make it special and it's nice to be able to incorporate that setting in your books.

  17. I love reading books about Lighthouses,would love to read this book.

  18. I love reading books about Lighthouses,would love to read this book.

  19. I love reading historical novels. I'm not sure I have a favorite era. I like a variety!

  20. I Love historical books and I'm reading one of her books now - Luther and Katharina. I can't wait to finish and read more of her books! Thanks for doing this giveaway for her readers! Have a Blessed day!

  21. I love historical fiction. I'm especially drawn to the Civil War Era and the Regency period.

  22. 2 things I learned that were interesting is: The diary that inspired her main character and how thorough of a job she does in her research prior to writing her books like visiting the graveyard towns and touring a real mine that was once used. Really cool!

  23. I was very excited to see that she used the diary of a school teacher in the area of the setting to base her school teacher on. It was also interesting to find out why Jody uses Michigan as her settings so often. That is a very special reason

  24. My favorite books are historical and my favorite era is civil war.

  25. I learned that she wanted to do this novel at a different location than she did her other 2 novels. And she got to stay there close at the assistant lighthouse keepers cottage and could go to the lighthouse and look around when she wanted.

  26. I hadn't heard of this series, but it sounds fascinating! That real-life villain sounds AWFUL though!!!

    I was really surprised how little I knew about this region and how much I learned about it when I read the American Girl books about Caroline Abbott with my girls. We learned so much about this region and the War of 1812 from those books.

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week!

  27. That villain makes my skin crawl. I can never imagine making the decision as a wife to defile my marriage bed or possibly not be able to feed my family.

    I like the second half of the 1800's best for stories!

  28. I didn't realize just how far north this was! Also about how harsh life was there.

  29. I love historical novels! As far as I'm concerned, variety is the spice of life, I'll take any time period and enjoy the ride!

  30. I liked learning about how she selected the setting of Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. How fascinating that she stayed for one week in the assistant keeper's cottage that now sits next to the lighthouse. What a neat experience!

  31. I love historical fiction! My favorite time period is Edwardian Era.

  32. Historical fiction is favorite! I love pretty much all time periods! :-) I just happen to be reading Undaunted Hope right now and am loving it! I've read most of Jody's books and haven't found one I didn't love!

  33. I enjoy reading stories from almost all historical periods when they're done well, but especially American Colonial through Civil War. As a writer, I, too, am envious of the stay in the lighthouse! What a TREAT. I write all my stories set in Georgia, where I live, to help with accuracy.

  34. I recently read "Rebellious Hearts," also by Jody, and it was set during the American Revolution. I must admit that I'm eternally fascinated with that period in time! I love learning about the birth of our beautiful nation. Clichéd but true! Lol

  35. I learned that Jody got to stay in the assistant keeper's cottage up in Eagle Harbor. What a wonderful thing to do! I've still never been to the Keweenaw Peninsula. It's on my to-do list. I also never knew that there was a Windmill Point Lighthouse. I grew up in SW Michigan, so I don't know as much about the east side! Lol

  36. Sometimes I like historical novels - if they are reasonably accurate and don't contain glaring anachronisms. I don't have a favorite time period although ancient egypt is fun.

  37. I learned
    1.that I want to visit Eagle harbor lighthouse! LOL
    2. that the heroine's experiences are based on a real teacher - too cool!
    3. that Albert Molitar was a scumbag - but perhaps would make an interesting true crime novel villain

  38. I love historical novels. I enjoy reading about the Regency era.

  39. I learned that the Keweenaw Peninsula is known as "Copper County" because it has a rich vein of copper running down the center of the peninsula. I also learned that Ms. Hedlund came across the diary of a real school teacher, Henry Hobart. I love reading about the interesting finds that an author comes across in their research.

  40. I do enjoy reading historical novels. I don't have a specific period that I like the best. I'm pretty open and enjoy a lot of different eras.

  41. I learned that each of her lighthouse books are set at real lighthouses that once existed in Michigan or still exists now. I also learned that this is the third book in the lighthouse series.

  42. I love reading historical fiction. My two favorite time periods are the late 1800's and WW II.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

  43. I like the information on the lighthouses in Michigan and how the diary of an actual teacher was used to add reality to the story.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment here at Chat With Vera. If you need to contact me directly, please use the "Comment Me" email associated with this blog and posted in the sidebar.