The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim is a book that many people are talking about. Jolina has been working the social media angle and had some great author blogger/support. But, even more than that, the book is a good read!
Several weeks ago, one blogger from She Reads mentioned this book as part of The Blog Network Recommends. I made a note to check it out- next thing I knew, The Outcast was being mentioned here, there and everywhere! Without Katherine mentioning it first, though, I don’t know if the book would have moved as quickly to the top of my TBR list!
During this time, Jolina and I began chatting on social media- and she agreed to be interviewed (plus a giveaway!) Seeing Jolina and her pictures of going on a book tour with The Outcast are a treat- you can just tell from the smile on her face that she is a lovely person- and someone fun to visit with!
Interview with Jolina Petersheim
Jolina- thank you for coming to Traveling With T to be interviewed!
Thank you, Tamara, for having me here. I’ve loved getting to know you through social media, and I hope that our paths cross in person soon!
The Outcast is a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter. Why did you choose to write a modern retelling of a classic? Do you hope that one day schools will be required to read both The Scarlet Letter and The Outcast to compare and contrast the storylines?
Nathaniel Hawthorne might haunt me if he thinks I’m trying to compare The Outcast to his classic! J However, I was so honored when a teacher told me that she will be teaching The Outcast alongside The Scarlet Letter. Knowing students will be studying (and reading!) my work is a dream come true.
Secrets run deep in The Outcast. What is your personal thought on secrets?
I believe secrets hold the power to tear relationships apart, but – once revealed – God also holds the power to mend them. Redemption after devastation is The Outcast’s main theme; Rachel’s illegitimate child’s illness is just the catalyst that sets everything into motion.
What is one thing readers should know about The Outcast to convince them to add it to their reading list?
Four years ago, a family member told a true story about the power of desire that was left unchecked and how it trickled down through an Old Order Mennonite family, not only affecting that generation, but the generations to come. We were all sitting around the kitchen, and after the person finished speaking, I gasped, “That’s a book!” But I did nothing about it. At the time, I was writing Southern fiction and did not want to surrender to “Amish fiction”—a genre my father always told me I should write.
However, a few years later, I was on the London Underground when a tall, stoop-shouldered man in a black suit stepped on board. My best friend and I recognized him as the person who was friends with the woman who was allowing us to stay in her flat. On the subway, this unsung poet and prophet spoke into my best friend’s life. Then later, on the double decker bus, he spoke into mine. He told me I would give up the manuscript I was currently working on and begin writing again. I didn’t know I would listen, but when I came home, I could not hear anything else. I put my current manuscript in a drawer and began writing a fictionalized version of the story that had been told to me. The unsung prophet of the London Underground is mentioned in the acknowledgements section of The Outcast.
When writing, Jolina, was there a writing schedule? Writing room? Did you use an outline or notecards to help in writing?
My husband and I welcomed a bouncing baby girl into our lives sixteen months ago. She is precious and feisty and, for a long while, did not want to sleep! This made it difficult to have a writing schedule, so as soon as her eyes would flutter closed, I’d grab the baby monitor and go tearing out on the front porch—typing as fast as I could for as long as she didn’t brutz from her crib.
Thankfully, she started settling down at ten months. Once she was sleeping through the night, I would write while she was napping and write after my husband and daughter went to sleep.
So, here’s my writing “schedule”:
6:30-7:00 – Baby A gets up, my husband feeds her breakfast.
7 – Mom (me) comes stumbling out and grabs a bagel.
7:30 – Hubby leaves for work.
7:30-8 – Finish breakfast, morning reading, clean up kitchen, get dressed (maybe).
8 – 9 Play with Baby A, then try to do some social media. Sometimes she hits enter before I’ve finished an email. (I apologize in advance to anyone who receives gobbledygook that looks like this: hlljakljfksjfklaj.)
9-10 Sweep floors and do laundry while listening to an audiobook. (Baby A loves to help me “fold” clothes.)
10 – Baby A goes to sleep. I grab baby monitor and lunge outside with laptop to write.
10:30 – Tie Kashi (our Akita puppy) up, because she’s licking my laptop screen.
11:15 – Watch neighbor’s mules come galloping down our lane, where they’ve broken down their fence –again.
11:30 – Stop writing to talk to farmer who is eyeing up our field for hay.
12 – Finish writing a paragraph. Baby A awakens from her crib.
12-4 Lunch, more emails, more cleaning, go outside to weed small raised-bed garden. Tie Kashi up who is trying to eat radishes. Husband home!
4-5 Walk up our neighbor’s long lane with Baby A strapped to my back. The lane cuts into the mountains and runs parallel with a dry creek bed that leads to a Buddhist temple (the Dalai Lama visited once!). I started walking there when loggers ran me off the road and almost killed my dog.
5-7 Supper, clean up kitchen, play with Baby A; my dear husband usually puts her to bed.
7-9 Quiet time with Hubby. We chat about our day, and sometimes we watch BBC’s Call The Midwife, which I count as research for my next book. He won’t admit it, but he secretly loves the show as much as I do. I would love to become a doula (birthing assistant) one day.
9-11 – Write, write, write! I adore these hours that somehow feel stolen and wonderful!
Katherine Scott Jones, a fellow She Reads blogger, recommended The Outcast in an article posted to She Reads called The Blog Network Recommends. Without Katherine’s recommendation, I’m not sure if I would have known about this book. How had word of mouth helped the sales of The Outcast?
Don’t you just adore Katherine Scott Jones? She will always have a special place in my heart because she was the first book reviewer to contact me just to say how much she enjoyed The Outcast. Though we live on opposite sides of the nation, I feel like we are truly friends. I cannot wait to read her words one day!
So, yes! Word of mouth has been wonderful. I am an extrovert who lives in the sticks; therefore, getting to meet readers, reviewers, and booksellers (even just through social media) has been a delightful part of this publishing experience. Thank you all!
What are you working on next, Jolina?
The Midwife, which is slated to release next summer. I still have a lot of work left on this story. (I’ve sent it to my publisher, but haven’t started edits.) But I am just as excited about its premise as I was about The Outcast’s! In the winter of 1995, a graduate student named Beth Sizemore becomes the gestational surrogate for a wealthy family in the research university where she attends. However, four months into the pregnancy, there appears to be chromosomal abnormality. Fearing the parents with terminate the pregnancy, Beth flees to a home for unwed mothers called Hopen Haus, which is located in an Old Order Mennonite community. She delivers the child, who is healthy, and focuses on her work as an assistant to the midwife. When the parents find out the child is alive and well, they come and take her back. From here, The Midwife expounds on what it truly means to be a mother: genetics or love.
Special thanks to Jolina Petersheim for agreeing to be interviewed!
Jolina Petersheim, author of The Outcast, is working hard on her 2nd book, raising an adorable baby girl, and keeping Kashi (her pup) from licking the computer screen while working. To buy The Outcast, visit here. To find out more about Jolina- visit Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter pages.
Giveaway! To win a copy of Jolina Petersheim’s The Outcast– just comment on this post. Include your email address (you may use the AT and DOT). Giveaway is open to US only (sorry!) Giveaway begins August 19th and ends August 26th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified on August 27th.