Mona Hodgson is the author of nearly 40 books, historical novels for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song, Book 1 in her Hearts Seeking Home Series. Her children’s books include bestseller, Bedtime in the Southwest, six desert and princess Zonderkidz I Can Read books, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, and her six I Wonder books.
Mona’s writing credits also include several hundred articles, poems and short stories, which have appeared in 50 different publications. Mona is a speaker for women’s groups, Christian women’s retreats, book clubs and reading groups, schools, and conferences for writers and librarians.
A CHAT WITH HISTORICAL FICTION AUTHOR, MONA HODGSON
1. The Quilted Heart stories are set in St. Charles, Missouri, on the banks of the Missouri river, a departure from the western mountain setting you wrote about in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek books. What intrigued you about this location and time?
Fifteen years ago, I spent a couple of hours in St. Charles, an enchanting city dating back to the 17-and-1800s. In March 2012 I was finally able to return, and the city, its history, and its peoplefrom times gone by and present daysank deeper into my heart. Imagine my delight when I discovered St. Charles was where Lewis and Clark provisioned for their corps of discovery expedition in 1804. And at the time of my novellas, the riverside city was the stepping off point for the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, funneling a broad array of people on their journey west.
2. In the novellas, different women of the community come together to quilt. Why do you think this type of community is important for women? What do these settings provide?
Women, especially, long for community and tend to engage social, emotional, and spiritual families. The means for making that connection may vary and change from place to place and time period to time period and generation to generation . . . shade trees, front porches, quilting circles, Facebook groups, blogs, but we want to fit in, to belong. From a young age, we search for our social home.
In The Quilted Heart, the St. Charles Quilting Circle that meets at Elsa Brantenberg’s farm provides that connection point for the female characters. In Dandelion on the Wind, the first of the three novellas, Mrs. Brantenberg had this to say to a new member, “Here in this quilting circle, none of us are alone. Not in our sorrows, nor in our triumphs.”
3. How did you research the various historical and setting details about life in Saint Charles, Missouri, following the Civil War?
I perused websites and books about Saint Charles and the Civil War, but, at heart, I am a hands-on researcher. In March 2012, I returned to St. Charles. I toured the area with someone from the tourism bureau, met with the archivist at the St. Charles County Historical Society, wandered through several museums in the area, and strolled the cobblestone streets and along the river.
4. Are you a quilter and/or do you have any quilts that are special to you?
It was the imagery and metaphor that led me to first speak at women's retreats about The Quilted Heart and then write these stories. I'm not a quilter, but I had two grandmothers who were and my Sis Linda is a quilter. I have the first quilt Linda made to commemorate the birth of my first daughter, Amy.
5. Elsa Brantenberg serves as a bit of a mentor to the other women in the quilting circle. Did you pattern her after someone in your life?
Yes. I tend to include a woman, typically older, who is strong and wise leader. Like Miss Hattie in Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride, Elsa Brantenberg in The Quilted Heart novellas was inspired by my dear friend, June Adams. June loves women and inspires them to follow Jesus in all things.
6.. Talk to us about the spiritual basis for each novella and why it is important to you.
In addition to the writing, I’m a women’s retreat speaker. My most requested weekend retreat series is The Quilted Heart. A quilted heart is a transformed heart--a heart transformed by God’s grace, Jesus’ blood shed for us, and the Holy Spirit’s renewal. Just as quilters repurpose scraps of cloth and create beautiful quilts, God pieces together the remnants in our lives that we would readily reject as shameful mistakes and tragic circumstances to make you and I a new creation. Beautiful.
7.. The novellas take the reader up to the point where a wagon train will be leaving St. Charles. How does that affect the women in the quilting circle?
We step into Mrs. Brantenberg’s quilting circle in August of 1865, just months after the final battles in the American Civil War. Many in the endearing ensemble cast of girls and women, who meet at the farm on Thursdays, lost men to the war. While many of the women will take steps, timid or sure, toward a new life elsewhere, others will remain to rebuild their lives in Missouri.
By the end of the third novella, The Quilted Heart fans will feel the call to adventure as many of the beloved characters decide to join the wagon train, headed west.
Connect with Mona:
FACEBOOK BOOK RELEASE PARTY!
Please save the date for a Book Release Party for THE QUILTED HEART on Facebook, FRIDAY, January 24th! You'll find the party in the Notes Section on her "Mona Hodgson Author Page" from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (Mountain Time). Mona will answer questions, give away prizes and share photos and behind-the-scenes stories about the three novellas included in The Quilted Heart omnibus, set in Saint Charles, Missouri.
Comment on Mona Hodgson Author Page [ https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona] before Friday,, January 31st to enter the BLOG TOUR DRAWING for one of three signed copies of The Quilted Heart. Which blog did you visit and comment on? You can enter once for each Blog Tour Drawing blog you visit and comment on.
The Quilted Heart Omnibus
Like a beautiful patchwork quilt, the three novellas in The Quilted Heart tell stories of lives stitched together with love and God’s unending grace.
Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God’s grace?
Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan?
Bending Toward the Sun
Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie’s eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?
Ripples Along the Shore
Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline’s husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids hera single womanto travel with them, will one man’s prejudice destroy Caroline’s hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God’s love bring the answer she needs?
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