Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bestselling Author Jody Hedlund on Research Trips--Plus a Giveaway!




Friends, today I'm honored to have award-winning, bestselling author Jody Hedlund here to tell us about her research trip for her latest release, Captured by Love. (Btw, I recently finished her book, and will share writing lessons learned in the near future)

Take it away, Jody!


Behind the Scenes of Captured by Love
A Research Trip to Mackinac Island (Part 1)
Research is an integral part of writing historical novels. Obviously there are many ways to research including reading biographies, studying time-period books, finding original journals or documents from that era, and reading other novels or watching movies about the topic (and then analyzing them). 
Those are all critical and important ways to research for a novel. 
Another way I like to research is by taking trips to the location of my books. While a trip is a helpful and fun way to glean more information for my stories, I don't consider those trips to be quite as crucial as the other kind of research I mentioned. 
Yes, trips can be helpful. But usually SO much has changed in one hundred and fifty years, that it's difficult to "see" the location as it would have been at the time of the story. Buildings, landmarks, vegetation, and physical geography (like coast lines, rock formations, clearings) have changed, sometimes even drastically.
Nevertheless, whenever possible, I try to go visit the settings of my books. I'm still able to glean
tidbits about weather, some local history, and even sensory details about the place that add authenticity to a story.
When it came time to plan a research trip for Captured by Love, I was really excited. It had been several years since I'd visited Mackinac Island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I was eager for an excuse to go back! I asked my mom and two older daughters if they'd like to go with. And I really had to twist their arms to go! *wink!*

As time would have it, the trip had to wait until the end of September. But that actually ended up being a beautiful time to drive north because the leaves were just beginning to change. That meant we were greeted by vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and magenta as we drove the three hours from my home in the central part of the state, crossed the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge, and entered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Mackinac Island is only accessible by boat and no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Many visitors bring their bikes along and others rent bikes when they arrive. There is also the option of taking horse-drawn carriage rides, which was our preferred mode of transportation. 

With the breeze blowing off Lake Huron, even on the sunny day, we were actually quite cool and had to use the wool blankets they provided to stay warm during our carriage ride.
Our guide for the tour was a history connoisseur of the island which the history buff in me absolutely loved. 
I learned an incredible amount during the several hours we rode about the island. Here are a few interesting facts:
  • Lilacs aren't native to Mackinac Island. The French brought them over as well as dandelions (which they used for wine)
  • The island is 3 miles wide and 4 miles long
  • Mackinac is the old French spelling for the island and Mackinaw is the English version
  • In the winter ice forms 3 miles wide around the island, so that it is inaccessible to ships
  • Because of the lake effect, it's not unusual to have up to 8 ft. of snow at one time 
  • Only a couple of feet of soil cover the island. The rest of the island consists mostly of limestone.
During the carriage ride, we stopped at Arch Rock, which is a fascinating rock formation that is in the shape of–you guessed it–an arch.  The view of the island from the top of the arch is spectacular. I could see up and down the coast of the island in both directions. 
It was the perfect place to imagine that I was Angelique MacKenzie (the heroine of Captured by Love). I wanted to get into her mind, fall in love with the island, and see it's amazing beauty and the solidness it offers amidst the seas the surround it.
Join me in the next post as I share more about my research trip on Mackinac Island, specifically my visit to the old military fort there. 

How about you? Have you ever visited Mackinac Island? What's your favorite thing about the island? And for those who haven't visited, what's your favorite vacation destination?
Want to win a book? Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway by July 15th!  
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances. 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.

39 comments:

  1. No motor vehicles? I bet the island is clean. And now I know who to blame for the dandelions in my yard.
    Congratulations, Jody!

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    1. Alex, I know, right? Kind of reminds me of Catalina Island here off the California coast. Such a cool place. And yes, it's clean!

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  2. I've never been there. 8 feet of snow at a time! Doesn't sound like the place for me but it does sound like an interesting setting for a story.

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    1. Susan, Jody did such a great job making me "feel" the cold of the island during winter. Sounds like a rough place to be during the winter, but a gorgeous place to be once the island thaws.

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  3. I grew up in MI, but actually only visited the island after I had moved away! Would love to go back and spend more time there.

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    1. Isn't it funny how we often don't take full advantage of seeing the sights around the place we live? Much of the time we "go away" for vacation and miss the fun right in our own backyards! :-)

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    2. I know what you mean. We've lived in southern California all our lives and didn't visit Yosemite until a few years ago. Gorgeous and totally worth the visit!

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    1. Elizabeth, doesn't it sound like a cool trip? Her main character had such a love for the island, and I'd imagine part of that was Jody's love of the island shining through.

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  5. I have not ever visited there but I would love to someday.

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    1. Sharon, you and me both! I've never even been to MI. If I ever go, I'd better visit during the summer. I doubt this CA girl could survive a real winter!

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  6. I've lived in Michigan my whole life but sadly never been there. Research for a book sounds like a perfect reason to go there.

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    1. It was a PERFECT excuse to go back! :-)

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    2. Natalie, isn't it amazing how we do that? There are so many pretty places in CA that I haven't visited yet. Heck, we just visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago. It's not that far from where we live!

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  7. I haven't been to Mackinac Island, but I know several people who have, and love it. My copy of Captured By Love came in the mail yesterday! Just digging in. Thanks for this sneak peek into the research behind the novel.

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    1. Hope you enjoy, Gabrielle! Thank you for reading it! :-)

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    2. Oooh, you're in for a real treat, Gabrielle! I hope you enjoy Jody's book.

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  8. I've never been, but I've heard much about it which was why I was so excited to read a book set there. My favorite vaca place used to be Maine. I now live in Maine. Lol. I haven't been home in three years, but if I could take a vacation that's where I'd go-OK. Loved this book!

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    1. How nice that you now live in your favorite vacay place! Luck you :)

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  9. Never been there, but I've lived on Lake Oswego, which is about the same elevation/snow level. It's definitely a different and beautiful area. For me, I like vacationing on cruise ships and to foreign locations stuffed full of history.

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    1. Crystal, my family adores cruising. As a matter of fact, we're leaving on a cruise in a couple of weeks. My three teen boys especially love the 24/7 food.

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  10. Thank you for stopping by today, everyone!! I'm surprised more of you haven't visited Mackinac Island! You really must add it to your vacation destination list! :-)

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    1. Jody, you've painted such a beautiful picture of the island. I'd love to visit it some day!

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    2. I would if we ever took vacations. Animals and a farm don't lend well for vacations. We only live five minutes from the ocean...so that's our mini vacation when we can go. :)

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  11. I have never been there but have read books set on the island and would love to visit during the summer. It sounds ideal and delightful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I agree about a summer visit. Summer sun and lake water is a perfect combination. Especially if it's possible to water ski :)

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  12. I've never been to Mackinac even though I'm near by in Wisconsin. These days my favorite vacation is shelling on Florida's Gulf Coast

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    1. Terri, I've never been to Florida, or even along the Gulf Coast. I'll bet it's beautiful there.

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  13. I've never been to that island, but I like the rule about no cars; it must be more peaceful there. Sometimes I wish America was more like Europe, where they still have a lot of buildings that are several decades or more than a century old; it makes it easier to picture what life was like for people back then.

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    1. So true! I love it when I visit places that seem to be untouched by time.

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  14. I've been wanting to go to Mackinac Island for a long time. But my husband his family made multiple trips when he was a kid, and he's just not feeling it now! Boo. ;) It sounds like my sorta vacation destination. Water and history are a hard combo to beat!

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    1. Oh darn, so hubby saw it a lot already, huh? Do you have kids? Maybe some day he'll want to visit with kids.

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  15. That sounds like one beautiful, although chilly, place. 8' of snow? Congrats to her on her book.

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  16. It's been years since I've been to Mackinaw Island. I'd like to be able to go back one day. What a fun way to do some book research. CONGRATS, Jody!

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  17. Oooo… what a fun guest today, Julie. Jody is fabulous. What a great post. I've never been to Mackinac Island, but gosh, it sounds magical! I think as a writer, visiting locations we're writing about can add a layer of magic--of realness--to the page. So I definitely agree with traveling! My special place is Nova Scotia. Incredible beauty and magic there. <3

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  18. I love the research part of writing. I always discover so much more than I thought I would. Can't wait to see lessons learned...

    :)

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  19. The post was wonderful. So glad I dropped by today.

    I have a giveaway going on too, you're welcome to drop by all week to play. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  20. I'm definitely putting the island on my "to visit" list! Sounds lovely.

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