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September 22, 2016

Jody Hedlund Q&A {Newton & Polly}

In case you have not heard, Newton & Polly has just released from author Jody Hedlund. It is a beautiful story with an equally beautiful cover :) I'm excited to bring you a little Q&A from the author herself, so without further delay...


jody hedlund newton and polly
You’ve written about many other true historical couples. What drew you to write about Newton and Polly?

Like most people, I’m familiar with the song Amazing Grace and knew it was written by John Newton who’d once been an atheist slave trader. I’d even heard a little bit about John Newton’s saving grace moment when he was aboard a ship during a life-threatening storm and cried out to God.

However, I’d never heard anything about the love of his life, Polly Catlett, until I began to dig a little deeper into his life. It didn’t take me long to realize that Newton had a passionate love for her, and his love for her affected just about every decision he made for good and bad. Theirs is a beautiful love story, one that God used in a powerful way. I decided it was a story the world needed to hear.

The title of the book says, A Novel of Amazing Grace. In what ways does the theme of grace come out in the book?

The theme of grace is very prevalent throughout the book because inherently that’s the theme of Newton’s life.  In other words, I wouldn’t have been able to accurately write this book or portray Newton’s life without showing the amazing hand of God at work in drawing him back to the truth of the gospel.

Not only did God spare Newton’s life during a life-threatening voyage back to England from Africa, but God spared Newton numerous other times, during his youth and also while he was in Africa working as a slave trader. Newton should have been a dead man. But God saved him time after time, and certainly not because Newton was righteous.

In fact, Newton was vile, blasphemous, and mocked and rejected God. But through it all, God never stopped loving Newton. When Newton finally dropped to his knees and wept over his sins, God was there waiting to draw him in with outstretched arms. That’s truly Amazing Grace.

Newton was a prodigal son. He was estranged from his family during his rebellious years, but later made peace with his father. What hope does Newton and Polly offer to parents dealing with children who have left the faith?

As a one-time prodigal child now experiencing a rebellious child of my own, I take a great amount of comfort in Newton’s story. First, I revel in the knowledge that God can take our mistakes, turn them around, and use them for His plans and purposes.
Second, I take comfort in Newton’s story because it reminds me that no matter how far our children stray into sin or even atheism like Newton, that they are never too far beyond the reach of God. We as parents need to do our job planting seeds, praying, and encouraging our children in what’s right. But ultimately God is the one who woos and wins our children to Himself.

From a human perspective, Newton looked hopelessly lost, especially as the years began to pass without any sign of change. But we as parents can find solace in knowing that through all of the pain and heartache, God has not abandoned us or our child. He’s there and His plans are at work, even when we can’t see them.

Clearly “grace” is an important theme in Newton and Polly. But what other issues or themes does the book address?

Actually, the book is full of various themes. One major theme has to do with the timeless conflict between Christian and cultural values. In the mid 1700’s smuggling had become so commonplace that people turned a blind eye to it and even condoned it, especially if they wanted to avoid hardships and even persecution. I hope the book challenges readers to evaluate how they might be going along with cultural values instead of living with truth and integrity.

The book also sheds some light on the controversy of the slavery issue at the time, giving insights into those who supported it as well as the growing abolitionist movement (which was still in its infancy during this part of Newton’s life).

Another theme is how to handle singleness. Like Polly, it’s all too tempting for single adults to grow impatient in waiting for the “right” person to come along and to begin to consider compromising values for fear of remaining single.

What stands out in your mind about what has made you grow the most as a writer?

If I had to narrow down one specific thing that has helped the most in my quest for publication, I’d have to say this: My careful, ongoing, and thorough study and practice of writing techniques has been the single most beneficial aspect of my writing career.

In other words, I read writing craft books, studied fiction-writing basics, and then put what I learned into practice. All the studying and writing has been the number one thing to help me in my writing career.

Is there a scripture verse that has inspired you in your writing?

Among many, here’s one I aspire to live by: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecc. 9:10) I believe in working responsibly and hard with the gifts we’ve been given for God’s glory.

What’s coming up next in your publication schedule? What can readers look forward to?

In January of 2017, readers can look forward to the 5th and final book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series! Be looking for a cover reveal soon!

Then in March of 2017, my third young adult book, For Love and Honor releases. This book spotlights the third knight in the series, Sir Bennet and tells how he finds his one true love.

In June of 2017, I’ll be unveiling a brand new series published by Bethany House. More information coming soon!

Contact Jody:
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
For lots of fun pictures, follow me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund
I get personal on Instagram: instagram.com/JodyHedlund/