For this month's author interview, we will be spotlighting a new author - Jennifer Hudson Taylor! She's just recently published her debut novel, Highland Blessings. I am currently making my way through the book! I am about 3/4's the way through, and I have enjoyed every minute in this wonderful tale! But, let's get on with the interview! Enjoy, readers!
Welcome to Book Ponderings, Jennifer! To start this off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me, Katy. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC, the hometown of O. Henry. I knew I wanted to write as early as age 12. I wanted to write the next Gone with the Wind. I work a full-time job in a nonprofit for small children. I write whenever I can find the time--at lunch, on weekends, at night, at the allergist, etc. I have a wonderful husband who supports my writing by brainstorming with me and reading all my manuscripts. He does most of the cooking and cleaning so I can write when I get home from work. I have a 13 year old daughter who has developed the patience of a saint.
What was the road to publishing Highland Blessings like? How long after you started writing were you published?
To be honest, it was hard. It took 14 years, 122+ rejections, 3 agents, and some nasty contest scores, lots of tears, 3 years of quitting, and even more prayers. In 2007, I had two manuscripts to final in the ACFW Genesis Contest. One of them was Highland Blessings--although it was Promised Blessings at that time. That's when I switch to Terry Burns, at Hartline Literary Agency. A year later he sold Highland Blessings on my birthday. It was the best birthday present--ever!
Wow! That's a long road, but how wonderfully it ended! I have to agree with you - what better birthday present could you ask for? Can you tell us a little bit about Highland Blessings?
Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.
Very intriguing! How did you come up with the title for this book? Did you think of it at the begining of writing, or once the manuscript was complete?
The title I had for it was Promised Blessings, but my publisher decided that Highland Blessings would be better for marketing reasons. They felt like people who search for Scottish historicals often type in the title Highland. I loved it, so we went with it.
Highland Blessings is such a beautiful title - I have to agree with your publisher! Which did you think of first - the main characters or the story plot?
I wrote Highland Blessings by the seat of my pants, so it was the characters. The plot came later. I'm now a plotter.
That's neat! I love characters that are so strongly developed that they write their own story! Which character was your favorite to write?
Yes, I did come to love Bryce for the soft spot inside that he always tried to hide. Who was the most difficult to write about?
Sim. Since he is deaf and mute, it really stretched my imagination how to have him interact and communicate with people.
Yes, I loved that little twist in the plot - it made the connection between Sim and Akira so special! Was it difficult to research for this book? Where exactly did you have it take place? What time?
No, research is one of my favorite things to do. I didn't choose a place specifically, although I later refer to Ross south of Inverness in the sequel, Highland Sanctuary. It takes place in 1473.
Did you have a favorite scene in the book that you enjoyed writing?
Yes, I enjoyed the mud scene after Bryce has kidnapped Akira. You really get introduced to their contrasting personalities in this scene. I thought it was kind of comical and humor doesn't come easy to me.
Really? That is my favorite scene as well! I couldn't help but chuckle as I read it! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eyes out for? Care to give a lil' sneak peak?
I just turned in the manuscript for the sequel, Highland Sanctuary, which takes place 3 years after Highland Blessings.
Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.
Where can readers go to find out more about you and Highland Blessings?
My website/blog: http://www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com/
Thanks so much for stopping by Book Ponderings! So glad to talk with you about your wonderful book, Jennifer!!
Katy, Thank you so much for having me!