Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jo Huddleston Reveals Story Behind That Summer

A warm welcome to you, Jo! We are excited to learn about the story behind your novel, That Summer.

The setting of That Summer is the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I've listened to the older generations tell their stories at family reunions about time before telephones and automobiles. Their stories fascinated me and caused me to want to write about a time before I was born.

This story percolated in my mind in the late 1990s. I’m what writers call a pantser type of writer. I don’t outline my plot on paper. My entire plot and characters simmer in my mind before I write a word. Many times I don’t know the ending but I know how to get there. Of course, sometimes characters surprise me by going this way when I intended them to go another way. I love how my stories many times work themselves out as I write.

While this story still rumbled around in my mind, in 2001 I received a life altering health diagnosis with a negative prognosis. My first symptom was the loss of penmanship that nobody, even I, could read. Then I began to have involuntary muscle spasms that prevented me from holding my fingers on the home keys of a keyboard. I couldn’t write and couldn’t type—this was before speak-to-type.
I thought my writing career had vanished. I cleaned out my files—even trashed all my rejection letters I’d been saving. Now I wish I’d kept them to prove that I really am a writer. I gave away most of my writing craft books.

My mind was still intact but my body wouldn’t do what it was told. My balance while walking started to diminish and I quit going to writing conferences. My doctor advised me not to drive. I was dependent on my family to even get to my doctor’s appointments and still am.

In 2008, I began to improve. My hands were steadier and I could get my story started. The biggest aggravation when I write anything is the time I have to leave my story to research the facts. When the story starts pouring out of my mind I want to write. I write continuously, not indicating chapters but I do indicate scene and POV changes. After I finish that first draft I go back and do those things.

I have outlived my doctor’s prognosis by over a year and a half. I’m writing the second of a 3-book contract and feel fine other than fatigue when I don’t stop to rest now and then. Fatigue does bring on more unsteadiness in my hands and legs.
From 2001 to 2008 I had a lot of time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned God, why me? I have not become bitter because of the health issues. I think God just gave me time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive. I’m a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me.

This is the way That Summer came to be: hibernated for seven years, and then became a story on paper.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? 

My favorite character is Jim Callaway. He’s restless and leaves the family farm to to go to an imagined prosperous city life. He chooses every path he takes without following God’s leading. Jim stands at many crossroads some sometimes he takes the wrong path. 

And now a fun question: What is your strangest habit? 

I guess you could call it a habit but it’s really just what I do naturally—I chew my ice cream.

What is your favorite season of the year? 

Fall would be my favorite season because it’s not yet turned cold and the hot days of summer are going away. I could live anyplace where the temperature  would be 80 degrees all the time.

Me too! Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

First, it would be dusting. I put it off until you can write your name on the TV screen. And of course, cleaning the bathroom.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

The beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, specifically around Pensacola.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
Philippians 4:8. If all populations held those thoughts, what a change for good we’d see.
How do you react to anything that causes a loss of your writing time?
I’m always tempted to react with impatience. But I only have to think back to 2001-2008 and I’m calmed knowing God is in control of the timing in my life.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My next book is due out in April 2013 currently titled Living Beyond the Past. It will be Book #2 in The Caney Creek Series. It continues to follow the Callaway family. Live their triumphs, sorrows, achievements, and losses. Walk along with them as they meet faith challenges and fight to regain a rightful place in God’s plan. Some new characters will join those from Book #1, That Summer.

Blessings to you Jo!
Here are several ways to connect with Jo Huddleston:

That Summer is available in paperback and eBook online at AmazonBarnes&NobleChristianbook.com, and publisher's website: swordofspirit.net. Any bookstore can order the book for you.

Jo Huddleston is giving away a copy of That SummerTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


ann said...

I like stories told by ancestors from older times as I am into genealogy. This sounds like one I would enjoy reading.Thanks

Teela said...

I would love to read your book THAT SUMMER. Thanks for the giveaway. teelayoung@hotmail.com http://coffee24tea.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Please enter me for Jo's book. My Library could use it! Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

KayM said...

What a blessing, Jo, that God has allowed you more years of writing! I love East Tennessee, so I'm sure I would enjoy That Summer.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


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