For about 30 years, the United States faced a series of monumental historical landmarks: World War 1, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and World War 2. Having taught United States history, I would say that I know quite a bit about what took place. At least I thought I did. When I read the “Sorrow and Song” series by Jennifer Q Hunt, I discovered that I definitely have more to learn. Jennifer did impeccable research for these books. She discovered interesting undertones that were taking place during this time period that I had not really heard about before. I am so glad that she agreed to let me interview her to tell you more about the series. That way you will appreciate the books even more when you read them.
When did you start writing the "Sorrow and Song" Series?
The basis for Some Through the Fire is a short story that I wrote 25 years ago. I’d just graduated from high school, and like Violet Sweet, was a little unsure about what was next but was trying to trust the Lord’s plans for my future, especially when it came to finding a mate. I worked on the book in my twenties, as a side pursuit while working as a tutor and later in vocational ministry. I was able to go to the Atlanta History Center and even the Library of Congress as I conducted meticulous research. I attended a major writers’ conference, and sent query letters to traditional publishers. At some point, I just put it aside as something I didn’t have time to pursue any further.
I got married in 2010 at almost 32 years old. In 2015, I had my third child in three years. I couldn’t keep up with a work from home job anymore, so I thought, “Why not put that manuscript out there on Amazon?” Their self-publishing option was fairly new at that point, and while the book wasn’t an amazing financial success, the responses I got from readers were very encouraging.
In 2019, my husband and I were living far from family; we had four really young kids and were going through some very difficult financial and job stuff. I had a fulfilling editing job that I did from home, and I’d also ghostwritten some clean romance novellas. Seeing these stories (that were pretty cliche and unpolished) get positive reviews, I really longed to go back to “real” writing fiction again. Writing Great Waters, the second book in my series, was very healing for me personally, and when I lost my editing job due to pandemic cutbacks in 2020, I decided to push forward and publish it.
About that time, I got on Instagram and met a lot of awesome bookstagrammers, readers, reviewers, and indie authors. One of these new friends, Kelsey Gietl, redesigned my covers, which made a huge difference. Last year, I got connected with a Christian Mommy Writers network, started by author Bethany Cox. It has been a tremendous community for encouragement, resources, and help.
What was your inspiration for the series?
My inspiration for each book has been a combination of the actual historic events happening at that time and things that God is teaching me in my own life.
The Sorrow and Song trilogy follows the Sweet Family from 1917 and the Atlanta Fire and World War One through the Great Depression and World War Two. Atlanta and Boston are the two major locations and there are three generations whose stories are told.
All of my books are something of a cross between historical fiction and historical romance. There’s a love story in each of them, but they don’t really follow the typical romance genre patterns. I really like writing about love after marriage, and so there’s a good bit of that. And since this is a family saga, there are a lot of other relationships going on besides the one between the hero and heroine—siblings, parents, in-laws, friends who become part of the family, etc.
What was the hardest part about writing these books?
On a practical level, just finding the time and focus. I have four children and I homeschool; my husband works long and odd hours. When I started back to fiction writing, with Great Waters, I was still breastfeeding my youngest. I’d be in her room at night, holding her and getting her to sleep, and researching or editing on my phone at the same time!
Without giving too many spoilers, is there a particular scene that is your favorite?
In each of the books, my favorite scenes to write have been when the characters have a spiritual breakthrough moment. After a long struggle, something finally clicks for them about the character of God, and they choose to trust Him even if the circumstances haven’t changed a bit. Those scenes are challenging to write, but so rewarding. I consider what I write to be Christian fiction, not from the standpoint of merely having Christian values or being a clean read, but that each main character’s relationship with God is the most important relationship in the book. So when they have these transformational moments, it’s very fulfilling to write, and their struggles usually mirror something that the Lord has done in my own life.
What character can you relate to the most?
Hmm. That’s a tough one. I would say initially, Violet Sweet, who was a little more on the passive side, deeply sincere in wanting to do the right thing, but who struggled against her own perfectionism to fully understand God’s grace. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve acquired a dose of Katie: “it was true that she was a young lady who both knew and could express her own mind handily” with a generous dash of Cal’s sarcasm sprinkled in, too!
Did you have a particular song in mind that fits this series? Or is there a different song for each book?
The titles of the books and of the series are based off the old hymn, “God Leads Us Along.” The phrases “Some through the Fire” and “In the Night Season” are directly from the song, and the titles Great Waters and Sorrow and Song find a basis in the phrasing of the song as well. In Great Waters, the characters are impacted by the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and in In the Night Season, the characters hold tight to the truths in “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.”
Where there any verses that impacted this series?
I use a lot of Scripture in my books, but in a way that I hope is organic and natural as the characters are learning and growing. In my recent release In the Night Season, I actually went back just before publication and changed the scene where Gincy is on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Lord had really put some things together for me in my own devotional time about this idea of endurance and not growing weary in well-doing, and I wanted to include those thoughts for my own encouragement and hopefully others’ as well.
What book projects are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on a Christmas novella, The Unbroken Song, that’s a prequel to the Sorrow and Song Trilogy. It’s set primarily in 1895, which has been a bit of a shock for me, as the late Victorian world was so totally different from the world of just 20-25 years later. It’s a less intense story than the books in the trilogy, which was a bit of a mental adjustment after being immersed in WW2 all last year. But there’s a message in this story that I’m really excited about, this idea of what does it mean to really live your life for the Lord. Why is it that sometimes God doesn’t allow our grand plans to serve Him to succeed in the way we expect, but narrows and hides us when we were sure He would expand our reach? So all this is woven in to a sweet [no pun intended] family story—with all the Christmas feels.
About Author Jennifer Q Hunt
Jennifer Hunt is an Atlanta-area native who enjoys long books, long walks, and large mugs of tea. She enjoys studying and teaching history, wandering antique stores, quilting, and baking pies. Most of the time she stays busy as a happy wife and a homeschooling mama to her four young children, finding time to write historical fiction “in snatches.” She loves the Lord and values His Word, two values that she prays always shine through in her stories.
P.S. This is the picture that I posted on my “The Sacred Line” Instagram series. If you click on the link, you can see the post.
Thanks for sharing Jennifer Hunt and her story behind the story! A talented writer and an inspiration to other indie authors.
There are so many indie authors who write great Christian fiction. (That includes you!) I am so glad that I continue to discover them. I definitely enjoyed Jennifer’s books!