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Interview with Jenelle Hovde

Biblical fiction is a genre that readers are extra-particular about the author having done her research, so good thing Jenelle Hovde terms research as one of her favorite parts of the writing process!

She's blessed to have been married for over 20 years to Jason, a pastor, as that background helps in studying the past. Hovde has access to all of Jason's theology books through a program called Logos, which she uses extensively for research and Bible studies. Hovde says Logos is essentially a massive digital library with Biblical commentaries, historical research, ancient language studies, and so much more.

Other components of the author's research include pouring over many archeology academic papers, watching several videos, and going through many other types of research material items that help transport her to ancient times and places. She then incorporates these facts and descriptions into her historical novels.

Although the author hasn't visited Israel, Rome, or Egypt in person yet, she desires to travel there someday to tour historical sites, especially Biblical sites. She also has always dreamed of spending some time with archeologists to gain knowledge that way.

"I may never get a degree in archeology, but I’d love to volunteer on a dig one day. I certainly can offer water bottles to the staff, right?"

Another helpful research tool is reading Biblical fiction – which comes with the bonus that this genre is one of her favorite ones to read. She says she's enjoyed everything she's read by Mesu Andrews, Francine Rivers, Tessa Afshar, and Connilyn Cossette – all of whom Hovde says inspired her to write in the same genre. Her favorite author in this category is probably Cossette.

"I highly recommend her for Biblical fiction fans. I buy every single one of her gentle faith stories. She writes with a dash of sweet romance. I also love Mesu, who pens epic Biblical fiction laced with tremendous research. Tessa aims straight for the heart. I always need a box of tissues close by when reading her books."

Hovde's love of research has been put to good use in writing Biblical fiction and historical romance, the genres she writes in today. However, she didn't always write in these genres; in fact, the initial book Hovde wrote would be considered children's contemporary fiction.

"I wrote my first novel at age seven. My mother kept my illustrated workbooks within a cedar keepsake chest. I developed that little notebook into a series. A brother and a sister adopt all sorts of pets in their neighborhood, much to their mom’s dismay. My parents supplied a constant stream of notebooks for both art and writing. Every time I tried to walk away from writing, a fresh idea would suck me in and demand to be explored."

Raven's Heir was the author's first published book, but it too was in a different genre: young adult. This novella was part of Five Poisoned Apples: A Collection of Snow White Stories. Although Hovde likes writing and reading Biblical fiction best, she does read tons of YA novels. A traditionally published author encouraged her to try writing a short story retelling about Snow White.

"On a whim, I wrote it in a week and never dreamed it would place in the anthology. Of course, subsequent editing took a lot longer than a week!"

Even though the author's first stories weren't historical fiction, she has always loved this genre. She grew up in the late '80s to 90s, and she would read inspirational fiction, mostly historical romances.

"I loved the sense of adventure, romance, and strong faith message of many of the authors at that time. Historical fiction has always intrigued me. I enjoy learning about the past. Well-researched fiction makes history come alive! I’ve always gravitated toward a strong romantic element. I think historical fiction can incorporate a beautiful love story."

The author's newest release, The Dream Weaver's Bride: Asenath's Story, came out this May. It is Book 20 in the Guideposts Fiction series Ordinary Women of the Bible. This book is about the wife of Joseph / mother of Manasseh and Ephraim.

Since not much is mentioned about Asenath in the Bible, a writer would have to do a lot of creative guessing about what Asenath's personality might have been like, and how she and Joseph got along. So, why did Hovde choose to write about Asenath over another woman? What are some of the personality traits the author gave to Asenath, and is Asenath like Hovde in any way?

"I've always been really fascinated by Asenath. So little is known about her other than she was the daughter of the High Priest of On. By the way, these priests were responsible for interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. Isn’t it fascinating that she was handed over to Joseph as a prize? I can’t help but wonder if she initially struggled in the marriage. Which god to choose? Her father’s or her husband’s?"

Asenath's two sons are included into the 12 tribes of Israel. Hovde says their names suggest great joy on Joseph's part, and since the sons were included in the 12 tribes, Hovde imagined a mother who eventually believed in El Shaddai.

"Who else can have so much influence over their children? I also wondered if a love story might lay hidden within the meaning of the son's names. Joseph clearly found healing with his new family. We don't know of any other wife except Asenath."

As for personality, Hovde's version of Asenath is a woman who loves math and science. The author personally despises math, but she does love science. Hovde made Asenath a woman who longs to build and create within a male-dominated society.

"As a former audiologist, I never experienced any setbacks due to my gender or age, but I can empathize with the frustration of deferred hopes and dreams."

A passion for writing came early for Hovde, yet she wound up stuffing away all desire for creative pursuits for a very long time. She says when she was a teenager, many well-intentioned teachers encouraged science and math, and so Hovde decided early on that a degree in art or creative writing wouldn't pay the bills. She obtained a doctorate in audiology and served patients within a clinical setting, then later became Director of Audiology for a hearing aid company.

When she did start writing fiction again, she hid it from everyone except her mother. She says she was far too frightened and insecure to show it to anyone else, but wishes she had taken risks earlier on.

"I lost valuable time learning and growing because of those silly fears. Lesson to offer new writers: always, always show your work to others, especially those who love your genre. It's worth the risk. Yes, you'll have to process some negative emotions when you get critical feedback, but for the most part, it will help."

When Hovde's husband read her first story seven and a half years ago, he immediately went out and bought her a laptop and told her to keep writing.

"My husband has been my biggest cheerleader—whether pursuing science or writing! In many ways, he shaped my Joseph character, who encourages Asenath on her journey of learning."

With Jason's praise and support, Hovde did continue to go forward with her writing, not only showing her work to other writers, but to agents. She was fortunate enough to get not just one offer for representation, but two! One was from Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency, who is now Hovde's agent.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, but in the end, I chose Tamela because she represents so many of my favorite authors. I'm glad I did because I just love her! I never did sell that first novel that landed me representation, but it did lead to wonderful feedback from certain publishers and opened a door at Guideposts Fiction."

Tamela got Hovde in touch with those at Guideposts, and Hovde was then offered a chance to submit an idea for the Ordinary Women of the Bible series. Guideposts loved the concept of Asenath, so Hovde signed a contract with them.

What is one thing in particular Hovde wants readers to take away from The Dreamweaver's Bride: Asenath's Story? Hovde says it centers around Joseph's ability to forgive.

"The message of forgiveness really resonated with me this year. We all struggle with the concept. Joseph's ultimate mercy, despite such betrayal, challenges me in the best of ways. I also think the message of perseverance despite trials is a much-needed one during difficult times."

Hope is also something needed during dark moments, and "Stories of Hope Throughout History" is a tagline on Hovde's website, and the kind of stories she writes, for a reason.

"I love fiction that leads the reader toward the light. I don't mind heavy subjects as long as there is a triumphant ending. Inspirational fiction does this so well, unlike secular fiction. As Christians, we know our ultimate hope lays in Jesus no matter what we experience during our life-time. We can rest secure in that hope."

The author does just that, which provides a peaceful, happy life, and no regrets about leaving her audiologist career for writing.

"These days, I write full-time and homeschool my three daughters full-time. In other words, my day is completely and wonderfully full."


Melinda Freeland wrote her first "novel" at age 8 about Mr. & Mrs. Texas Toast, and their struggle to get off the plate before someone ate them. Today, Melinda writes fiction you can relate to—about humans—and their real struggles, not only in relationships, but also with understanding and trusting God. Love, Texas – Population 2 is her debut Christian contemporary romance novel. It was inspired by Melinda's reunion with her first love, her life as a small-town reporter, and her faith journey. Melinda lives in Texas with her handsome husband, two great kids, and her lovable Pug. She'd love to connect with readers at and on social media @authormelindafreeland and @melindafreeland.

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