Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over 30 historical novels for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards, including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Awards. Jody lives in Michigan with her husband, busy family, and five spoiled cats. She loves to imagine that she really can visit the past, although she’s yet to accomplish the feat, except via the many books she reads.
FF: Can you please provide a brief description of your latest novel, Come Back to Me?
Research scientist Marian Creighton thinks her father’s quest to find the ultimate cure is crazy, even if it stems from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. When her father finds and drinks a vial of ancient holy water and falls into a coma, Marian discovers clues that suggest he’s crossed back in time. At first, she thinks he’s insane, until she tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages smack-dab in the middle of the bloody Peasant Revolt of 1381.
William Durham, a valiant knight, comes to Marian’s rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?
FF: Come Back to Me is the first installment in your new Waters of Time Series. What was the inspiration behind your new series?
I’ve always loved reading time-crossing books, but in recent years realized how few there are to choose from. After devouring the few books I could find, I decided maybe I just needed to write one for myself. I happened to have a free block of time in my schedule between projects, and so I gave myself a fun treat and wrote one.
In developing the plot, I wanted to find a concept that gave off the feeling that time traveling was really possible. Since people in comas are sometimes known to have very realistic “dreams,” I decided that would be the “vehicle” for the time-crossing. After discovering that “visions” were also connected to holy water, I merged the concepts of coma and holy water. Hopefully readers will be left with the feeling that time crossing is possible!
FF: Time travel is a central theme in Come Back to Me. What type of research was required to write about this topic?
Since time travel is largely science fiction, most of my ideas came straight from my own imagination! However, in trying to make the concepts believable, I did draw on many of the current physics concepts surrounding breaching time and space. In addition to general research on the popular theories, I read The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli as well as Seven Brief Lessons on Physics also by Rovelli. While I don’t delve too heavily into the scientific terminology and theories, I learned enough to flavor the series with realistic possibilities.
FF: Marian Creighton, the female protagonist, is a scientist skeptical of her father’s research of holy water and its purported qualities. Can you tell us a little more about the superstition surrounding this piece of history?
Many people throughout history spoke of life-giving water sources that supposedly could heal diseases or make a person more youthful: tales by Herodotus, the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great, the stories of Prester John from the early Crusades, and the claims of Ponce de Leon during his explorations of Florida. Legends have existed of certain kinds of sacred trees (including ash) that are located next to holy wells.
Over time, especially during the Middle Ages, holy water or oil was thought to contain curative properties. Interestingly, the curative holy water healings were only recorded in specific locations and only for a limited time. Two of those places happened to be in England, including Walsingham and Canterbury. The “Pynson Ballad” recounts the miracles that happened in Walsingham. And of course, the Canterbury Cathedral windows give a beautiful pictorial depiction of the miracles that happened in Canterbury.
So while nothing has ever been proven about holy water, history certainly leaves us many clues that point to it being special.
FF: What type of research was required to accurately portray fourteenth-century Canterbury?
First of all, I enjoy reading other fiction set in that era, which helps to give me a flavor of the Middle Ages. One that I particularly enjoyed is Queen Hereafter, regarding Queen Margaret of Scotland.
I also have many medieval research books that I’ve collected over the years (since I also write Young Adult medieval fairy tales) including: The Middle Ages Unlocked, Daily Life in the Middle Ages, Knight: The Warrior and World of Chivalry, and many more.
Finally, I gleaned advice from a medieval expert living in England, who read through my manuscript and helped to correct my inaccuracies as well as gave me research tips and links.
FF: What lessons are embedded in the pages of Come Back to Me?
Since I have a large family (five kids!), I’m in tune with family relationships along with all the complexities family life brings. In this story, complex family dynamics come into play. Marian feels abandoned by her busy father and also feels responsible for finding a cure to heal her sister Ellen. She has to learn about loyalty and forgiveness, and to depend on others. Most of all, she learns that life doesn’t always turn out the way we think it’s going to, but that somehow God works things out in his time and his way.
FF: You are a bestselling author of over 30 novels and have written books set in different time periods and even different countries. Do you have a preferred time period?
I love being able to write in the Middle Ages. It’s an era rife with danger and disease which makes the plotting and planning super exciting. I also love the elements of castles, knights, and daring damsels. It was a time of chivalry, honor, and integrity, but also a time that produced some of the greatest villains the world has known. Overall, my imagination goes into overdrive whenever I write a story set in the Middle Ages!
FF: What do you love most about the historical romance genre?
First and foremost, I consider myself a romance writer. I’m drawn to the historical genre because of the variety of ways to develop romance and love in bygone eras that don’t exist in modern times, especially marriages of convenience (a trope that happens to be one of my favorites).
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m in the process of editing the second book in the Waters of Time Series (title still TBD). It releases January of 2022 and carries on the story of Ellen (Marian Creighton’s sister).
The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.
That’s exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father’s quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He’s left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he’s crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.
William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian’s rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?
Come Back to Me
Waters of Time Series #1
Genres: Historical Romance, Suspense
Release Date: June 1, 2021
ISBN-10 : 0800738438
ISBN-13 : 978-0800738433
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