Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Joan Hochstetler

It's a treat to welcome you today, Joan. Tell us, is there a story behind your book Northkill?
Indeed there is. Northkill is closely based on the true story of my Hochstetler ancestors, and it’s one of the reasons why I developed such an interest in history and such a love for the Lord. It’s truly impressive how many facts were recorded about this event at the time it happened 257 years ago and how much of the oral tradition handed down through the generations has been documented to be true

There are a couple of important details, however, that don’t appear in the historical record but were crucially important to the story. The name of Jacob’s wife and the little daughter who was killed in the attack were forgotten, and clearly we couldn’t write this story without naming them. We finally made a decision based on some speculation in a few articles published in the Jacob Hochstetler Family Association newsletter. Because Anna is the only female name that appears in the families of every one of Jacob’s surviving children, and because of how the Amish have traditionally named their children, it’s highly probable that her name was Anna. And since their oldest daughter was named Barbara, which was likely the name of her grandmother, the second daughter was probably named Anna after their mother. So that’s how we named them in Northkill.

It was a very emotional moment for me when I was finally able to give my great-great-great-great-great grandmother a name when she had been a nameless shadow for so many years. For the first time she stepped out of history and became a real person, and that was so precious to me. I still tear up thinking about it.

Sounds wonderful and inspiring! What started you on your writing journey? 
A dream. Seriously. One night back in 1977 I had a dream that was so intriguing I realized I had to write the story to figure out who these people were and what in the world they were doing. That became my epic medieval tragedy, which I’m determined to one day complete and publish! From there I went on to working on my multi-volume series on the American Revolution, the American Patriot Series.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
As you can imagine, I particularly love historical fiction, including classics that weren’t historical at the time they were written, but read so today. I also enjoy a wide range of contemporary fiction. My favorite authors include Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Goudge, Rafael Sabatini, Zane Grey, Diana Gabaldon, Athol Dickson, W. Dale Cramer, Laura Frantz, and Lori Benton. Being a publisher as well as an author, I also love the stories of the authors I publish. Obviously I wouldn’t be publishing them if I didn’t!

Ooooo! Many of my favorites too. Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
That’s a hard choice because I grew to love and relate to all the characters. But it would have to be Jacob because he had to make the hardest decision of his life, a decision that was completely counter-intuitive to the values of this world. The choice he faced was a stark one: Remain faithful to God’s commandment not to kill, and face his own death and the deaths of his wife and children by the most violent means. Or disobey God and kill their attackers.

It seems like an easy choice to make when you’re living at peace. It’s a totally different story when a violent enemy is trying to break down your door. It couldn’t have been easy to stand firm in his faith, but he did, and his example is still inspiring people today.

If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?
Caravaggio. Definitely. He’s an Italian artist who lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. I absolutely love the astounding mastery and beauty of his work and his powerful, dramatic use of light and dark that just grabs you and draws you into the scene he’s portraying. In high school my ambition was to be an artist, and Caravaggio and Rembrandt were my ideals—and the reason I gave up that ambition since I don’t have the genius for painting on the level they did!

What is your favorite season of the year?  
Autumn, without a doubt. I love the beautiful colors of the leaves and the coolness of the wind before it gets really cold. Bittersweet and acorns, corn drying in the fields, pumpkins, and the brilliant hues of mums. Bonfires outside and a crackling blaze in the fireplace. The rich, tantalizing aromas of good food cooking, and the family gathering for Thanksgiving. Everything that goes with the season. There’s just something about the melancholy, thoughtful mood of autumn as summer gives way to winter that speaks to me most deeply.

Love Autumn. What is a favorite memory from your childhood? 
I was a tree climber as a child, and one of my favorite memories of growing up is sitting high in the branches of a tree with a good storybook. Nobody could see me, but I could spy on them from above. And I loved hearing the wind whisper through the leaves and looking up high into the sky with birds and clouds flying by.

A fellow tree climber. I remember . . . Nevermind. Please share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)   
My favorite is my life verse, Isaiah 6:8. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ’Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ ” I’ve felt the strong pull of that verse since I was a child, and my deepest desire is for my life to be a worthy testimony of God’s grace and mercy to all those I come in contact with.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
My next book is Valley of the Shadow, Book 5 of my American Patriot Series. It’s tentatively scheduled to release Spring 2015, which means I need to get busy and finish it! The Return, Book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series will follow in 2016.

Valley of the Shadow continues the compelling saga of Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton as they face the devastation and triumphs of the American Revolution. A daring rescue, the harsh winter at Valley Forge, the inconclusive battle at Monmouth, and an unforeseen change of plans will force both Elizabeth and Jonathan to make hard choices that teach them to trust the Lord’s leading as never before.

Thanks for joining us, Joan!

To buy her book, go here:

Joan's Bio:
J. M. Hochstetler is an author, editor, and publisher. She is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history. Her American Patriot Series is the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. Her contemporary novel One Holy Night was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year. She is a direct descendant of Jacob Hochstetler through his oldest son John.

Bob's Bio:
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, pastor, and speaker who traces his descent from two sons of Jacob Hochstetler: John and Joseph. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell and won two Gold Medallion Awards, among others. Bob is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats.

About Northkill:
Northkill is closely based on an inspiring true story well-known among the Amish and Mennonites. It has been documented in many publications and in contemporary accounts preserved in the Pennsylvania State Archives and in private collections. You’ll find more information about the history of the Hochstetler family on my website and at http://www.hostetler.net/.

To connect with Joan, go here:
Website: jmhochstetler.com
Blog: northkill.blogspot.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/joan.hochstetler
Twitter: @JMHochstetler
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29292351&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Joan is giving away a copy of NORTHKILL. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!

Caroline Brown


Amy C said...

Lovely to see Joan here. Interesting that your career started from a dream. I guess I should listen to my dreams more often. :)

Wendy Newcomb said...

This sounds like a great story Joan, thank you for writing about your ancestry.


Jackie McNutt said...

Joan, the more I learn about this book the more I want to read it.
Thank you for your heart touching post about your family. I am glad that you were able to get a sense of closure from naming your great
Thank you

Linda Marie Finn said...

Can't wait to read Book 1 and then will be anticipating book 2 next year.
Linda Finn

Cindi A said...

The more I learn about this story the more I want to read it.
Thanks for the opportunity to enter the drawing.

Patsy said...

This sounds so interesting! Would live to read it.


Patty said...

I think the passing down of family names is so neat! I don't think it is quite a common as it once was, but I see it a lot in my family tree, especially on the male side.

I love fall too!


MsRubyKat said...

Nice interview. Sounds like a great book to read.
Karen G.

JACLYN said...

Would love to read this!!! Firstrosegrrl@yahoo.com

sm said...

I also like Autumn. There's a crispness in the air, such beautiful blending of colors God has put in the foilage, and cooler weather. Love to read your book. sharon, wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Hello Joan. I live the Historical Fiction books and learn more about our history. A tragic story about their deaths. Guess I don't see that commandment they they do. I thin k it means not to just kill because you want to. I don't think it means we can't protect ourselves and our family. GOD even told some of his men to take armies and go into p[laces and kill everyone. One was on the way to the Promised Land. He told them even the women and children. And, when the first child of every family was to be killed except for His believers who put blood on their doors. And, other places.
But it was for a reason. I would love to win this book of yours. Thanks for a chance.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Emma said...

Northkill sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.Have a wonderful week.

Kay from NY said...

Interesting. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

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