iUniverse recently talked with J. Rivers Hodge, award winning author of The Legend of Anne Southern with his wife and writing partner, Brenda.
They were the winners of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Regional Fiction and have recently been selected as a finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Award presented by the Florida Writers Association.
iUniverse blog asked what is your writing inspiration?
“When I was a boy growing up on my grandfather’s farm in Florida, he told me stories. He was a lay Baptist preacher, so I’m sure these tales had “moral” meanings. The reality is I don’t remember much about them, but there is one exception—the story of a family fleeing their Georgia home at night, traveling down a dirt lane in a wagon pulled by mules, hearing the crackling of fire, and seeing their home burning behind them.
I’ve been a kind of a mature storyteller myself; many times I’ve been told I should write. About twelve years ago, I retired from pharmaceutical sales and decided to write the great American novel. Granddaddy’s story served as the “seed” that grew into two novels: The Legend of Anne Southern and its sequel, The Legend of Joe Edge—the latter yet to be published.
I’ve always been interested in the Civil War. Over the years, I’ve read histories, diaries, newspaper articles, and any other material I could of that great conflict. While I’m not sure if the story my grandfather told happened during that war, I imagined it did.
I want the readers of The Legend of Anne Southern to realize how desperate the citizens of the South became when faced with starvation, rape, mutilation, and murder; and how a clever woman like Anne Southern overcame such dire circumstances and saved herself and her children.
Perhaps The Legend of Anne Southern will empower readers to reach higher, dig deeper, go further, and never, ever give up.”
Next iUniverse asked about the writing process?
“Writing doesn’t come natural to me. Somehow through the years, the placement of commas and the use of colons escaped my mind. That’s why my wife, Brenda—who’s credited on the title page—is so important to me, writing-wise. She edited both novels and did an excellent job. I couldn’t have published without her.
I wrote the novels, and then realized I didn’t know “how” to write. So I joined an online critique group, Critique Circle. There, I posted chapters of my novels, and other writers critiqued them. I also critiqued those writers’ works. This went on for ten years as I wrote and rewrote and rewrote; and Brenda edited, edited, and re-edited. I highly recommend Critique Circle for any newbie writer. At first it’s hard to have your work criticized; however, if you keep at it good things happen.”