Jody Hedlund ~ Author Interview

Oct 7, 2016 by

Welcome back to Rachel’s Back Talk! Another Friday interview!


Today’s interview is with Jody Hedlund. This past Monday, I had the reviewed her newest release, a historical, Newton & Polly: A Story of Amazing Grace.


So without further ado, on to Rachel’s Back Talk – Special Edition! 


RR: Welcome back to Rachel’s Back Talk, Jody! We love having you hear! You’ve written about many other true historical couples. What drew you to write about Newton and Polly?

JH: Like most people, I’m familiar with the song Amazing Grace and knew it was written by John Newton who’d once been an atheist slave trader. I’d even heard a little bit about John Newton’s saving grace moment when he was aboard a ship during a life-threatening storm and cried out to God.

However, I’d never heard anything about the love of his life, Polly Catlett, until I began to dig a little deeper into his life. It didn’t take me long to realize that Newton had a passionate love for her, and his love for her affected just about every decision he made for good and bad. Theirs is a beautiful love story, one that God used in a powerful way. I decided it was a story the world needed to hear.

RR: Yes! I love learning more about the man behind the song “Amazing Grace”! Whenever fiction is based on true people or events, authors have the added challenge of maintaining integrity to the truth. How do you balance fact with fiction?

JH: I always make it my goal to stay as true to the known facts as possible. I want to represent the people and events that I write about as accurately as possible. So for example, Newton and Polly really did meet at a young age. Newton really did claim to have fallen in love with her at first sight. He overspent his time at the Catletts on numerous occasions and lost his jobs in the process. Because of his lack of character, the Catlett’s forbade further contact with Polly. He was impressed into the Royal Navy but later deserted, was whipped, and demoted. He was later transferred to a merchant vessel and from there spent time dealing in the slave trade in Africa.

Yes, it’s important to remain true to the facts. However, if that’s all a fiction writer did the book would turn into a biography. The challenge then is to take the facts and craft them into a riveting tale that readers can’t put down. In order to do that, writers often have to add additional plot lines and characters. Since history doesn’t record everything and we weren’t there to see what really happened, writers have the liberty of interpreting the gaps and adding in things that could have occurred.

I always write with this motto: Build the framework with true facts, but then fill in the unknown and decorate the house with enough color and drama to make a good story.


RR: I love the mixture that you make with your books, especially this one about Newton and Polly, since I had an idea of there story already. Clearly “grace” is an important theme in Newton and Polly. But what other issues or themes does the book address?

JH: Actually, the book is full of various themes. One major theme has to do with the timeless conflict between Christian and cultural values. In the mid 1700’s smuggling had become so commonplace that people turned a blind eye to it and even condoned it, especially if they wanted to avoid hardships and even persecution. I hope the book challenges readers to evaluate how they might be going along with cultural values instead of living with truth and integrity.

The book also sheds some light on the controversy of the slavery issue at the time, giving insights into those who supported it as well as the growing abolitionist movement (which was still in its infancy during this part of Newton’s life).

Another theme is how to handle singleness. Like Polly, it’s all too tempting for single adults to grow impatient in waiting for the “right” person to come along and to begin to consider compromising values for fear of remaining single.

RR: So what’s coming up next in your publication schedule? What can readers look forward to?

JH: In January of 2017, readers can look forward to the 5th and final book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series! Be looking for a cover reveal soon!

Then in March of 2017, my third young adult book, For Love and Honor releases. This book spotlights the third knight in the series, Sir Bennet and tells how he finds his one true love.

In June of 2017, I’ll be unveiling a brand new series published by Bethany House. More information coming soon!

RR: Oh yay! Three new books to look forward too 🙂 As we close today, what do you hope readers walk away with after having read Newton and Polly?

JH: During the very last time I read the book while I was doing my last edit, Newton’s return to God brought me to tears. I hope readers, too, are overwhelmed by the sense of God’s presence and grace in Newton’s life.

More than that, I pray that readers will have a new sense of God’s grace extended toward them, that they’ll realize that no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been, that God is waiting to draw them into his outstretched arms into his amazing grace.

RR: Thank you so much for being here today, Jody, and for sharing some thoughts behind the story of Newton and Polly. This book is very dear to my heart, as well as the story behind Newton and Polly, ever since I watched the Broadway musical.

If you have any questions for Jody or remarks about the interview,  please leave a comment. I love hearing from you and I know Jody will too!

In case you missed it, here is the review that I wrote on Jody’s book, Newton & Polly


No-15Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Contact Jody:

I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund

I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

My home base is at my website:

For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest:

I get personal on Instagram:

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