Looking Out the Window: Jo Huddleston Talks about Her New Book, Beyond the Past. She'll Give Away a Copy.
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Welcome Jo. First, tell us a little about yourself.
We live in a college town, which made it convenient for our children to earn college degrees. We love living in the South and vacationing on the seashore of the Gulf of Mexico. We lost a fourteen year old cocker spaniel. I won’t get another pet because the pain of that loss is too great for me to go through again.
Beyond the Past is book 2 in the Caney Creek Series, which is a Southern inspirational historical romance.
Emmajean Callaway’s life in Atlanta plummets from bad to worse. Can big brother, Jim, lead her back to the family who loves her and also hold the imploding Callaway family together?
Jim Callaway looks forward to 1951 and the chance to forge a relationship with Caroline after twenty years apart. He’s sidetracked when his sister and his best friend need his help. His baby sister, Emmajean, skids into jail on drug charges in Atlanta. The ordeal of incarceration and trial diminishes her and she needs rescuing, not only physically but spiritually. She struggles toward recovery and restoration with her lawyer’s help as he champions her inside and outside the courtroom. Jim’s nephew Art is one step ahead of the truant officer, wrecks his car, and officials suspect alcohol is involved. Art awaits his fate at the hands of the juvenile court judge. Jim and Caroline continue their bumpy journey as they seek realization of their dreams, wondering if they really can overcome obstacles to their being together after so many years. Considering the needs of his family and friends, does Jim have time for romance?
What inspired you to write this particular book?
The setting of the Caney Creek Series is the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee where my ancestors and I were raised. I’ve listened to older generations tell 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. The series began in 1928. Book 2, Beyond the Past, takes place in the early 1950s.
How do you get to know your characters?
Before I write a story, the characters have been in my mind for a good while. I don’t plot my stories, but work them in my mind until I know the characters, what they’ll do and why. Most times I know the ending of the book when I start it because I know the characters so well. Sometimes a character surprises me and goes one way when I intended for them to go another way. But that just requires my creativity to work a little harder to keep up with them.
What themes do you write about?
Family relationships, love, forgiveness, and redemption through God’s grace. In all three books of the Caney Creek Series, the readers follow the Callaway family. The readers live their triumphs, sorrows, achievements, and losses. They walk along with them as they meet faith challenges and fight to regain a rightful place in God’s plan.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
My writing schedule is most effective if I write in the mornings. After a quick breakfast I get to my computer, usually still in my PJs and write 2-3 hours. I do email, FB, etc. in the afternoons when creativity is unnecessary. I write at a desk in a corner of a bedroom, which is anchored with laptop, printer, and files.
Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I don’t write/outline a plot but work my stories out in my mind. I do sometimes write a short synopsis before I begin to write—as I think the book will go. I'm more a seat-of-the-pants writer.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
If not for my faith in God, I wouldn’t be a published author. I don’t believe in coincidences but in God-incidents. It may appear that I come up with my ideas for stories but I know God allows me to see the ideas He places before me. I turn my writing over to God and tell Him that if He wants my story published, it will be. Of course, I write my faith into my characters in various ways.
What are you working on right now?
I'm writing book 3 of the Caney Creek Series, Claiming Peace. This is the final book of this series and I’m tying up all looses ends, making sure the series ends with everyone where they should be. Claiming Peace is scheduled to release in September 2013.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read all you can about the craft of writing. If possible find a writers’ conference near enough to be affordable for you to attend. Soak in all you can in the workshops and from the speakers, editors, and publishers even at meal times. Be prepared for rejection. They won’t be rejecting you but what you wrote. Margaret Mitchell received over twenty-five rejections for Gone With the Wind! They told her nobody wanted to read about the Civil War.
Jo Huddleston's debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012 as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Book 2, Beyond the Past, released April 2013. Book 3 is scheduled to release September 2013. Jo holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Professional membership: American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Jo’s career has spanned a variety of work. She was a high school teacher and guidance counselor, a political campaign secretary, two-time business owner and a real estate agent. Her writing career includes more than 200 articles and short stories, which have appeared in over 50 well-known Christian and secular publications such as Guideposts and The Upper Room. She contributes online to Christian Devotions at www.christiandevotions.us.