Saturday, April 18, 2020

Welcome Jo A. Hiestand to our garden interviews

Hello Jo

Tell us about your books

Are your characters based on real people?

My main character, Michael McLaren, is based on a real person. I didn’t know the man, but a friend did. When I was creating McLaren, my friend and I exchanged perhaps a half dozen emails as we considered traits and McLaren’s life story. I relied on my friend to give me the incident leading to the real McLaren’s departure from his job, but I developed my fictional McLaren’s personality, where he lives, gave him a name and everything else. I plopped him down in a section of Britain far removed from the real McLaren, gave him a job that would suit his need to cocoon himself from the world, and then allowed him to slowly reconnect with society and his friends through his investigation of cold cases.

Have you ever cried while writing a book?

I did one time, which was for the last scene of “No Known Address.” Three of my friends died within months of each other the year I was writing that book. When I began the book, I had no intention my protagonist’s fiancée would die. But my friends’ deaths overwhelmed me, and I felt compelled to have McLaren, my protagonist, experience the sadness I felt. I guess you could label this an outlet for my grief.  I didn’t react with the anger and violence that McLaren did in the book when he learned of his fiancée’s death, but the ending scene when he’s listening to the music is exactly what I did and felt. 

How did you come up with the title?

The book concerns a young man who disappeared, and the father has no idea if his son has run away or is still alive. Since my protagonist, McLaren, has to locate the young man, or at least figure out what happened to him, I needed a title that implied that problem. I thought of physical indications to convey this, like a road sign or an overgrown path or a letter stamped ‘return to sender.’ I liked that letter idea a lot because besides implying the person was no longer at that address, there also was a question about his departure: he hadn’t left a forwarding address. Then the phrase ‘no known address’ popped into my head. I thought that conveyed that the young man not only was gone but also that there was a bit of mystery connected with his disappearance. So, “No Known Address” became the book title.

Do you have to travel researching your book(s)?

I need to travel to do research, but since my books are placed in Britain and I’m stuck in the US, I rely on others to travel for me!  I have several friends in Derbyshire, where most of my books are placed. I can ask them questions and they’ll know the answers, usually having been to those specific areas.  For one book, I needed information on what the tearoom looked like at Haddon Hall, and one friend actually drove there and looked around for me!  For another book, I wanted to know the type of bridge on a particular road—one of those arch varieties that are nearly flush with the ground. I also needed to know if the road went uphill, what was near it, etc. I’d driven on that road several times when I was in Derbyshire, but I couldn’t recall what the bridge looked like. My friend was a police officer, so he knew that stretch of road and could tell me.  Yes, I realize my book is fiction and I could have made the area how I wish, but I like it to be accurate.

Describe your writing style in ten words or less.

So descriptive you feel, hear, and see with the characters.

and now for a little fun

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Either a treasure hunter, an archaeologist, a jockey, or a writer.

Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorites change a lot, depending on my mood. But one of my favorites is “Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel; go down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”

What song would best describe your life?

With no hesitation, the song is “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” by Tom Paxton. Especially the second verse that tells of wandering while trying to discover what the person is meant to do with his/her life. In my younger years I had several passions: photography, history, cooking, writing, and music. I kept switching my thoughts on what I would become, loving so many things that settling on one thing was difficult. So yes, I have been wondering where I’m supposed to go and what I should become.

Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript?

No, but I was so dog gone mad once that I threw the ms in the trash.

Are you fun to go on vacation with?

I think I’m seldom “fun” to be with at any time, meaning I don’t do zany things like put a lampshade on my head or do an imitation of The Mummy. I’m too serious for “fun,” but on rare occasions I do get slaphappy. And I frequently make comments in a dry sense of humor that others find funny. Many times on vacation I get excited about the place I’m visiting, and my over-the-top enthusiasm gives joy to the folks I’m with.

Where can we find out more?


Read “No Known Address” today.

Trade paper –

E-book --
Books a million:


Hunter Skye said...

Hi, Jo. Great interview. I'm so sorry you lost so many friends at once. That was a great quote you shared. I tried to follow your links but I couldn't get any of them to work. I'll try again later.
Thanks for sharing about No Known Address!

Micki Miller said...

Compelling, how the deaths of friends influenced her writing.

GiniRifkin said...

Hi Jo. Great quote. Yes it's so hard losing good friends. Beautiful cover and sounds like an interesting series.

Tena Stetler said...

I enjoyed your interview. Learned a lot about you which is why I like author interviews. Good luck with No Known Address!