Hi Jennifer, welcome to Cindy's Reviews, tell us a bit about yourself and how you started writing?
Thanks, Cindy for having me.
In third grade I remember a teacher handing us piece of notebook paper and telling us to write a story. It was my first moment of writer’s block. I couldn’t think of anything to write! All the kids around me were scribbling away, concentrating, deep in thought. I stared at my blank page. Nothing. I looked out the window at the beautiful sunshine with longing. Nothing. I put my pencil to my paper. Nothing. I looked up at my teacher in anger and thought, this is hard! I had no idea HOW hard.
Somehow I went from that to wanting to write the next Gone with the Wind by the time I was 12. In high school, I couldn’t even get on the school newspaper or the yearbook staff. College was different—and better. I was a newspaper reporter and became Entertainment Editor, and went on to work with other local newspapers and magazines. Whenever I got a rejection, it made me mad enough to prove them wrong. I don’t give up easy. I started writing novels for publication in my mid-twenties. Thirteen years later, I had accumulated over 122+ agent rejections. Actually, I stopped counting at that point. In 2007, two of my manuscripts won awards in American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Contest, and I signed a contract with Terry Burns at Hartline Literary Agency. One year later, I finally received my first contract offer for Highland Blessings. By then, I had written seven novels.
Your book Highland Blessings was set in the 1400's in Scotland, what made you choose that time period to write about?
I admit it, I wanted to write something similar to Braveheart, and originally planned to set my book during the early 1300’s when Robert the Bruce won Scotland’s freedom from Great Britain. However, I got into researching the time period and many of the words I wanted to use weren’t in existence yet. This drove me nuts. I couldn’t find a way to say the things I wanted to say with such a limited vocabulary without making it sound so wordy. Upping the time period to 1473, gave me a wider use of the vocabulary I wanted to use in my novel.
What type of research did you have to do for this book?
Honestly, I spent a lot of time with William Brohaugh’s English through the Ages book. It gives the dates of when certain words became widely used and in some cases how. The other book that helped me get started was the Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. It gives the history of many clan families, the septs or other associated family names with each clan, crests, symbols, arms, mottos, etc. One of the hardest things was figuring out how much Gaelic I wanted to use in the dialect. I did a lot of website searches for this, watched movies, read the screen subtitles, and tried not to go overboard, but remain consistent.
What is next for Jennifer Hudson Taylor fans and readers?
I am working on a sequel, Highland Sanctuary. It will be released in October 2011. It is set in 1477 Caithness, Scotland.
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.
Any last thoughts or comments you would like to share?
I do want to mention that Highland Sanctuary is a little special to me as I’ve modeled the heroine after my daughter, Celina. She was born with a life-threatening seizure disorder. She would stop breathing and require CPR. My husband performed CPR on her eight times during her first year of life. I’m so thankful for modern technology, the seizure meds she had, and the fact that we understand it is a medical issue. I created a character in 1477 Scotland that has a seizure disorder in a time when the word seizure wasn’t widely used. This was quite a challenge. Modern technology wasn’t available, and people’s reactions would have been much different. There aren’t many stories like this one. I’ve carried it in my heart for many years. My daughter is now 12, and praise God, seizure free and on no seizure meds!
If you haven’t read Highland Blessings, I hope you pick up a copy and give it a try. In the meantime, I’ll be working on Highland Sanctuary!
Thanks Jennifer, we appreciated having you "stop in" with us and share some of your life. I look forward to Highland Sanctuary..
Be sure to check Jennifer out online at www.jenniferhudsontaylor.com