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Friday, March 13, 2009

Spotlight on J.M. Hochstetler and Wind of the Spirit


J.M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee, and spend much of the winter in Perry, Georgia.

by J.M. Hochstetler
Published by Sheaf House Publishers


Can Elizabeth's love bridge the miles between her and Jonathan—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

Buy Your Copy of Wind of the Spirit today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Book 2. LOL! Seriously, Wind of the Spirit started out as the last third of Native Son that got lopped off when my publisher at the time demanded that their authors keep their word counts below 90,000. I was already above 120,000. The publisher did concede that I could go a bit higher than 100,000 words since historicals are generally longer. So after much agonizing, I cut the back end of the story off, and voilà! Wind of the Spirit was born. Of course, I subsequently added a whole lot more to it to make it a full-length novel. In the end, what initially seemed like a disaster turned out to be the best that could happen as far as the story was concerned. It's a whole lot stronger than the original version. God works in mysterious ways!

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

For a writer, everything you've experienced and people you've encountered become grist for the mill. It all inevitably shows up in what you write, though it may be so disguised that even you don't recognize it. The heroine of this series, Elizabeth Howard, does incorporate much of my personality—maybe even more than I think she does. She's very adventurous, and I am also, though I've been too timid to put much of that trait into practice. So I have her doing things I'd love to but don't have the courage to try. In that way she's her own person. She's very courageous and also more impulsive than I am. And she's beautiful. I don't claim that characteristic!

Elizabeth is very like me in that she's a people pleaser. That's showing more and more in this story through her relationship with Charles Andrews and Pieter Vander Groot. She's very drawn to both of them and cherishes their good opinion and their love. So she allows herself to be sucked into a tender relationship with each of these men that can only end up hurting them, and her too, because her deepest heart belongs to Carleton. I've found myself in similar situations—wanting to please someone and hold their good opinion, but knowing I ultimately couldn't go where they wanted the relationship to go.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Ummmm...well, I think Elizabeth Howard is dark chocolate raspberry truffle. And Jonathan Carleton would most likely be Bear Claw.

4. Are there any themes in Wind of the Spirit that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

A major theme that spans the entire series is that we are aliens and strangers in this world. Our citizenship is in God's kingdom, not in any earthly kingdom. Each volume also includes strong themes of redemption, submission to God's will, and reliance on God's power to accomplish his purposes instead of trusting in our own abilities and understanding and running after our own will.

One theme that developed, to my surprise, while I was writing this was that often we judge someone without knowing the things that affected and motivated them to act or think as they did. When Elizabeth and Charles learn that Jonathan has become the Shawnee war chief, the accounts they've heard of White Eagle's actions shock them. They judge him as having become a savage, and they believe they need to save him from the Shawnee. It isn't until they find him and become acquainted with his Shawnee kindred that they learn the whole story. And that changes their perspective completely.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult parts in this series are the battles because of all the logistics involved and trying to believably cover an entire battlefield with only one or two characters. In this one it's the Battle of Brooklyn, which was a total mess. Lexington and Concord was nice and linear, and I had both Elizabeth and Carleton present to cover different parts of it. I was also able to figure out a workable linear treatment of the Battle of Bunker Hill using only Elizabeth.

But this battle morphed all across the western part of Long Island, with hot spots developing at different times and places. I had to chart it out and create a timeline of the various troop movements and individual clashes within the greater battle, and figure out how to place Elizabeth at all the critical points. It about drove me crazy! It's a real upper, though, that the consensus of those who critiqued this sequence was that it's compelling and flows really well and carries the reader along in a headlong rush, so it was worth all the head banging I did in writing it.

My favorite part is the chapter that includes the Shawnee adoption scene and the love scene. And that's all I'm tellin'! You'll have to read the book to find out what that's all about!

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The next book is either going to be Northkill, a fictionalized account of the true story of my ancestors' massacre during the French and Indian War or book 4 of the American Patriot Series, Crucible of War. A lot of family members are asking for Northkill—the story is well known in the Amish and Mennonite community—and I have more of it finished than I do Crucible of War. So I'll probably focus on completing it first. I'm hoping to have the first draft finished and ready to edit by the beginning of next year. Then I'll dive into Crucible.

To learn more about Northkill, go to my Web site at and click on the Hochstetler Family link. I have a Northkill blog ( that desperately needs to be updated. As I make more progress on the story, I promise to post more often. And you can follow progress on the American Patriot Series at

* * * * *

Thank you, Joan, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Wind of the Spirit.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Anonymous said...

I am so excited about this new book coming out. I have looking forward to it since I finished "Native Son" back in January.I can't wait to get my copy and figure out if Elizabeth and Carleton can be together!

Leslie Ford

ccford89 said...

My sister is addicted to "The American Patriot Series" and has been bugging me about this book since she finished the second one. The series looks pretty cool so maybe when she finishes the series I will read it.


Mary said...

This series sounds like something that I would enjoy and the interview was very interesting.

Please enter my name in the drawing. I can be reached at malward2002[at]yahoo[dot]ca


Esther said...

I've been waiting a long time for this new book and antsy to know what happens to Jonathan and Elizabeth. I eagerly grabbed up all the crumbs you slipped in along the way in this interview -- good job!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Joan. It's exciting to know that "Wind of the Spririt" is winging its way to my place as we speak so no need to enter me into the contest. A fourth sequel in the Patriot Series? Wow!! Do Elizabeth and Jonathan ever get married? I know...stand by...I'll have to read and find out.

DeAnna Julie Dodson said...

Yes, many congratulations, Joan!

I very much enjoyed this book, and would love to have a "real" copy of it now it's out. The cover is gorgeous!

DeAnna Julie Dodson

Anonymous said...

I've read this book and love it! Like all of Joan's tomes, it's a page-turner.


Kate Shiloh said...

Joan, I can't wait to read Wind of the Spirit! Wow. Sounds great.

Debra Ullrick said...

I heard about this book from Michelle Sutton. She said it is a must read. It sounds absolutely wonderful. Please add my name to the drawing!

christianromancewriter [at]gmail[dot]com

Thank you.

Debra Ullrick
The Bride Wore Coveralls
Déjà vu Bride
Dixie Hearts

Shannon McNear said...

What a great interview!! Thanks to both of you, Joan and Tiff! (And, can't wait to read the book ... :-) )

Jessica Nelson said...

I've read about this book in other places. I can't get over how much I LOVE that cover. Enter me please!

Rebecca Herman said...

Please enter me in the contest! I love this setting and the first two books in the series were really good!

rebecca191 (at) aol (dot) com

Crystal Laine said...

I'd love to have a chance to win this book.

Joan is a Native Hoosier, as am I, and I enjoyed this interview! I learned a couple new things about her, too.

Thanks, Amber, for hosting her--great questions.


J. M. Hochstetler said...

Wow, you guys! Thank you for all the kind words about the series. It appears those of you who have read it are enjoying reading it as much as I'm having a blast writing it! lol! They say that if you love your characters, your readers will too, and Elizabeth and Jonathan are my favorites of all the characters I've written about, both published and unpublished.

There's another romance that takes off in this volume, btw--and Kathi and DeAnna, don't you dare reveal the details!!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Hey, Crystal! How are things up in Hoosierland? I haven't talked to you in a while! Haven't been up there in the land of the blessed for a while either. lol!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joan! Thanks for telling us about Wind of the Spirit. It sounds like a wonderful story! I would love to win it for my mother. She and my dad raised about 10 (I lost count) Indian foster children after I had left home, so she has a special affinity for anything Native American.

And thank you, Amber, for the great interview!

Vonda Skelton
vondaskelton (at) charter (dot) net

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Vonda, that is so cool about your folks rasing all those Indian foster children! Wow--I'm sure the Lord blessed your folks and the kids too. It's really a thrill to hear wonderful stories like this.

squiresj said...

I would love to win this book and review it online. I would also be passing it around to introduce you to others in my church. I am getting known for sharing of books.
May God Bless you and annoint you.
jrs362 (at) hotmail (Dot) com

Anonymous said...

Whoops looks like I can't read directions.
My e-mail address is
I should pay more attention.

Whether, I win the book or not I think it's amazing that the book has affected so many people, the book really drew me into another place and time. I can't wait to get to read it I have been waiting for so long that I have made my own guess as to what happens, I hope I'm close because I like happy endings.

P.S. Chris is my brother and he is a great brother, by the way congratulations on the new baby they really are god's little blessings.

Have a great day,


Martha A. said...

I would love to enter to win!

Pat Iacuzzi said...

Hi Joan--

Wonderful interview and new book in the series! So glad to see stories about early America. Visited your website that Tiffany did such a beautiful job on, so I can see where you write with such an authentic voice for the time. Would love to win just to immerse myself in the historical setting! :) Pat I.

Kim said...

I love this author and would love to win a copy of this book!! Please enter me!

kimfurd at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another good book! :-)

Carolynn said...

Please enter sounds like a wonderful book, thanks!
carolynnwald [at] hotmail [dot] com

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:


Congratulations! I have emailed you for your mailing information so Joan can send out your book.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.