(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!)
Hello everyone! I’m so excited to host this month’s read for the Jody Hedlund Challenge 2015! As I’ve mentioned before, Rebellious Heart holds the top spot of Jody’s novels and after re-reading it, this fact has been confirmed. This month we’re also getting a sneak peek of the design process, so let’s dive right in!
“We’re all created equal…and I can’t sit idly back and let men or kings deny us our fundamental and unalienable rights.”
As I mentioned, this is my favorite. It helps knowing it’s based on John and Abigail Adams (high five to one of our founding fathers). Their relationship is such an example. They had a solid friendship, they learned to encourage each other’s strengths and helped change a nation. I’m reminded and encouraged by this: Be the woman God made you to be. Whether married or single, you have gifts that God has incredible plans for. If you are single and marriage is part of your path, trust that the Lord will bless you with someone who encourages those gifts and doesn’t shut them down.
It’s also Cassie’s favorite and I love her reasons (and completely agree!): “I love characters who are intelligent, passionate, who fight for justice and speak with conviction. Ben and Susanna embody these qualities, and their relationship was one filled with chemistry and based in friendship. From the small moment of Ben taking Susanna’s foot measurements to their declaration of love, I was completely immersed in this novel.”
Alright, let’s dive into the discussion questions (some of these are courtesy of Jody’s website. You can find a full list of discussion questions here!) As always, please feel free to answer any, all and/or include any other thoughts (you’ll find mine in the comments too)!
- Were there any quotes that really stuck out?
- Susanna struggles with whether she should break the law. She doesn’t want to go against Scripture’s mandate to obey our earthly authorities. And yet, she also wants to help the runaway. Do you think it’s ever okay to break man-made laws? If so, under what circumstances?
- Mother-daughter and father-son relationships can sometimes be really stressful and sometimes an incredible blessing. How has your relationship with your parents influenced decisions you’ve made?
- Do you have a favorite character?
- Did you realize education of women was given such a low priority during colonial times? How do you think you would have reacted to being treated as an inferior to men?
The lovely folks over at Bethany House have hooked us up with some behind the scenes fun! Thank you so much to Amy and Bethany House for providing the insider’s look and insight!
1. I’ll start off with a general one – On average, how big is the design team? How much is the author involved?
Our in-house design team consists of our creative director and our three designers, who create the book covers and ads and website graphics and bookmarks and a million other things you didn’t realize needed to be designed. They are an amazingly talented group of people.
That said, if you’re talking about who is actually involved in the entire process, the circle widens to include the book’s editor and the Bethany House marketing team. There will usually be about three meetings for each cover—initial brainstorming, choosing from some rough options, and critiquing a more final cover. At each of these meetings, the full team is present to give feedback and suggestions to the designers—anything from what would work best for the market to which facial expression fits the character’s personality. Typically, 6-8 people attend those meetings. (Though occasionally our creative director will roam the halls of Bethany House, showing other employees two cover options to get their first-instinct opinion or asking which image of a child they think is the cutest.)
The author gives the team descriptions of the setting and characters (both personality and physical appearance), as well as any significant plot points that could be depicted on the cover. We don’t have the author sit in on the meetings, since they are A. too far away physically from BHP headquarters and B. probably a little too close emotionally to the story to make market-type choices on the look of the cover. Their editor, who has read the book, is there to be the author’s advocate, and let us know when we’re going in the wrong direction for the story or character. We do make changes to the final image based on author feedback—typical examples are things like a character’s hair needs to be more reddish, or that particular style of robe would need to be full-length for the time period.
2. While in the planning and development stages of the cover, what were the most important aspects you wanted to convey about the story? Can you talk about some features of the cover that were created around bringing the story to life through this image?
One thing that was important to us was conveying the time period at a glance so that historical fiction readers know what to expect about the setting of the story (and to attract readers who love that particular era). Obviously, it wouldn’t be true to the story to show, say, George Washington carrying a musket running past the window. So the designer wanted to convey “Revolutionary War” through details like the dress, the background details, and even the font.
Also, although the story is obviously a romance, there’s some significant action and suspense going on in the plot. You’d know that if you read the back cover copy, but the image on the front should convey that as well. The photo shoot focused on Susanna holding the candle because we felt it was the most interesting, and conveyed that hint of mystery and danger. The shadows around the border of the book do the same. You may not consciously say, “Oh, look, there are shadows—this book will probably be a real page-turner,” but design influences us in ways we don’t even recognize.
3. In Rebellious Heart, the angle from which this cover is shot is different from the usual straight-on shot that is often seen on covers. Was there a reason for this?
At our first brainstorming meeting for Rebellious Heart, the marketing team requested that the designer explore new ways of showing the character to make it stand out. (The designer will go to and direct the photoshoot as well as working with the final images.) As you can see from the sketches, even at the earliest stage, this angle was considered, and it was the one the whole team liked the best.
Looking forward to what y’all have to say!! Thanks for joining in, these are some of my favorite discussions 🙂