Posted on January 26, 2022 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Today we're interviewing Jess Lederman, who writes literary fiction, religious fiction, and historical fiction.

Lederman was an arrogant atheist before being blindsided by Christ. He is an award-winning author who writes Christian-themed historical literary fiction and is currently at work on The Ballad of Henry Midnight, a novel that begins in the last days of the Wild West and ends in Las Vegas in 1955.

When he's not writing or chasing his young sons around, he can usually be found at the piano, playing Chopin nocturnes for his wife, Ling.

SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to become romantically involved with?

JESS: In my novel Hearts Set Free, I based the character of Joan Reed on my late first wife, who died tragically young.

Joan has her intelligence, beauty, and compassion, and also the same sort of doubts and internal struggles.

As to whom I would least like to be romantically involved with — perhaps Miss McSorley, the drug-addicted shotgun-wielding proprietor of McSorley’s Roadhouse who appears in the novel’s 1920s segment.

She was well-meaning, but a little too scary for my tastes!

SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?

JESS: Without a doubt the most rewarding part of my writing career has been the feedback I’ve received from readers.

Writing can be a long, lonely journey, and a writer ends up loving and caring about his characters, almost as though they were his or her own children.

So when, after years of work, it turns out that many other people have been deeply moved by those characters, have identified with their struggles, and — perhaps most important! — have been inspired by their quest to know and love God, well, that's all the reward one could ever ask for.

SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?

JESS: It’s hard to choose! I’m honored and blessed to have received many like this: “I finished this book crying in the middle of the night with my soul feeling the love of God like I hadn’t in a while.”

SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?

JESS: While Hearts Set Free is compelling entertainment, I also hope it inspires readers to think deeply about their faith and what it really means in their everyday lives.

My characters engage in conversations about what some might call "theological questions," but not in an abstract way — they do so out of an urgent desire to love God with all their heart, strength, and mind.

They wrestle with how to apply Scripture to their daily lives — how to forgive and love their enemies, for example.

When you ask questions like that in the context of a story that has romance and adventure as well, you've given a reader lots to think about.

SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?

JESS: Hearts Set Free was powerfully shaped by two events in my life, both of which are portrayed in the novel.

First was the loss of my wife, who was diagnosed with ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — in the prime of life, and given two years to live. After that, we moved to Alaska, and lived not far from the start of the Iditarod, the iconic dogsled race which is featured at the very beginning of my story.

Second was my own experience of having been an arrogant atheist — very much like the novel’s Tim Faber, who, midway through life’s journey, was blindsided by Christ.

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Learn more about Jess Lederman on his website, where his books can also be purchased, and like his page on Facebook

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Categories: Author Interview

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