I want to give a special welcome this week to Jo Huddleston. She’s been very patient while we worked out some problems and around some senior moments LOL! She has an interesting story behind her new release, Promise Me.
Here’s a little more about the book.
In 1960, civil discord in Vietnam fills the news. After his college graduation, Patrick Fitzgerald plans to join his daddy’s South Carolina accounting firm. But Uncle Sam may have another position in mind for Patrick—in the U.S. Army. His family’s affluence would be no match for the persuasion of the military draft.
Adriana Montagna’s papá ekes out a living as a coal miner in the mountains of West Virginia. Can a lasting relationship form with Patrick, or will his wealth become a barrier between them?
Meanwhile, the fiber of America’s unity stands on the precipice, while its youth fight a no-win battle on foreign soil. What good can a young couple hope for at such a time as this?
1. What inspired you to write Promise Me?
Promise Me is the third and last book of the West Virginia Mountains series. My inspiration for the series came from visiting a college friend’s home in West Virginia where her daddy owned a coal mine. I saw the meager living conditions and super work ethic of the coal miners and their families and wanted to put that in a story. As for the inspiration for Promise Me—as the series had progressed, the characters of Adriana and Patrick strengthened until they deserved a book of their own.
2. What struck you most about the conditions the coal miners and their families lived in?
In the 1950s the living conditions of the coal miners usually rented their houses from the mine owner who also owned the houses, school, church, and company store. These rental houses most usually had only two bedrooms, living room, and kitchen with no running water or indoor plumbing. All the families drew their water from a lone community well, and each family had an outhouse for their bathroom. In my research, I was impressed with the fact that rarely did a photograph surface that showed a coal miner and his family smiling. Despite their sparse living conditions, the coal miners had an excellent work ethic.
3. The Vietnam era is one not many authors write about. Why did you set your story then?
The West Virginia Mountains series begins in 1955. When I began this series, I did not plan to write about the Vietnam War era. Books #1 and #2 in the series took the reader into 1960. When writing historical novels, I try to immerse my story in that time frame by having my characters involved with the happenings around them. Promise Me begins in late 1960 just as America was testing the waters of the civil conflict in Vietnam. The time line of the series gave me no option but to set my story in the Vietnam War era. Because of that, part of Promise Me’s plot involves the Vietnam War.
4. What was research like for the book?
When the time came to write Promise Me, I was comfortable writing the beginning. Promise Me is set in West Virginia, as were books #1 and #2 and I had done research by personal visits, conversations, and reading. When Promise Me wove its way to the battlefields of the Vietnam War, I had to turn to research to make my story authentic and convincing.
I had various available avenues for research. One valid and valuable resource was the written word. For my reading about the Vietnam War, I relied on encyclopedic references, photos taken on location, and testimonials of Vietnam War veterans. In addition, one of my most valuable resources was face-to-face accounts from American servicemen.
Although a few of the personal accounts I was privileged to get were from veterans of wars other than the Vietnam War, war is war regardless on which continent it occurs. As you read Patrick and Adriana’s story in Promise Me, I hope you will find Patrick’s experiences realistic. In part, I wrote them based on facts and feelings I received from respected, reliable, and living resources.
Yes, Promise Me, is fiction. But to make historical fiction believable, an adequate amount of reality must be woven with the threads of fiction. That’s what I attempted to do when writing this new release. I hope you won’t doubt what you read about the historical situations and locations mentioned within its pages.
5. What else do you have in the works?
I’m currently writing a novella in a series of novellas by various authors, all set along the legendary Route 66 that runs from Chicago to Santa Monica, California. When I finished Promise Me, another sweet Southern historical romance story settled into my mind. I don’t do a lot of plotting on paper, but I know the beginning and probable ending of a novel when I begin. Then I write what happens between and most times my characters will take over and I let the story go along with them. I can tell you that most of my next full-length novel will take place on a seashore. I’m excited to get started on it!
Jo Huddleston is an Amazon Bestselling author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series and her Caney Creek series are sweet Southern historical romances. Her novels are endorsed by Amanda Cabot, Debra Lynn Collins, Cara Lynn James, Sharlene MacLaren, and Ann Tatlock. The redeeming story of God’s pursuing love is the foundation of her novels, and in them you will find inspiration, hope, and gentle stories that are intriguing and entertaining. Jo is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN).
Thanks so much for joining us, Jo!