1. Do you ever consider an end to the Hedgehog Hollow Series or will it continue on as the series popularity continues to soar?
Great question! The end is actually planned and will happen this year with the release of the final three books in the six-book series.
Book 5 is called Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow and is up for pre-order now and out on 28th June. This is a hot off the press title reveal and I’ve just started writing it. It’s lovely to be back at Hedgehog Hollow after a Starfish Café break.
Book 6 will be Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow (also a hot off the press title reveal) and out in late September, exact date TBC. That will go up for pre-order later in the year.
When I started writing the first book, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, I wasn’t thinking about a series but I had this cast of characters with such big stories to tell and I didn’t want to shush them. That first book ended up being more of an origins story of how our heroine Samantha came to set up the hedgehog rescue centre so it was logical that there’d be further books to follow what happened after it opened.
I wasn’t far into book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog, when I saw it as a trilogy. But characters kept presenting their stories and some of the themes in the book realistically needed time to be resolved so it kept growing. My editor laughed after I’d written book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, and I sent her an ‘I’ve been thinking…’ email with a proposal for three more stories.
Occasionally you see criticism levelled at an author (or producers of a TV series) that it has dragged on for too long and gone off the boil. I would never want that to happen to the hedgehogs. Although there are other stories I could tell after the six books, I feel that the really important interesting ones will have been told and six books gives sufficient time to tie up the loose ends on the recurring themes across the books such as Samantha’s relationship with her mother.
However, before the hedgehog fans turn up at my door brandishing placards demanding more, it won’t be the end for Hedgehog Hollow. It will simply be the end of this series. Hedgehog Hollow is such an amazing place and has more to give so I’m already planning other stories that will feature the rescue centre but won’t have Samantha as a narrator. Readers will be able to see how Samantha and Josh are doing beyond the six-book series without me having to disrupt their lives to create another story. This is the issue, you see. To tell an interesting story, there has to be conflict and drama and I’m in this no-win situation where I have readers clamouring for more while telling me off for disrupting things for their beloved heroine. I’m afraid I have to disrupt things or it would be a boring book!
I also hope to write a prequel at some point telling Thomas and Gwendoline’s story.
Gosh, that was a long answer!
2. Raising awareness is a big part of your story telling. Where do you find the ideas and insight?
I was bullied throughout school and also in the workplace on several occasions so I started out drawing on those experiences and wanting to spread the message about the damage that bullying can do and how important kindness is. Those themes grew to encompass loneliness and self-confidence.
I can’t have main characters who are all carbon copies of each other so, while they will always be ambassadors for kindness, I needed to explore other topics and themes. Across my books, I cover some tough topics like lifechanging illnesses, bereavement, PTSD, rape, suicide. Other than All You Need is Love where I specifically wanted to explore a Parkinson’s diagnosis, I don’t usually set out to cover subject ‘x’ – it happens to be the story that my character presents to me so I tell it for them.
I’m so humbled that my books can educate as well as entertain and, the more messages I receive or reviews I read about this, the more I feel it’s important to incorporate awareness if appropriate to the story. It happens organically and I would never think Ooh, xxx is a current subject so let’s shoehorn that in because that isn’t the way I write.
The ideas therefore come from some personal experience or what my characters present and the insights come from a mix of personal experience and huge amounts of research.
I love that I’ve had feedback about my books raising awareness about the plight of the hedgehog, the dangers of the sea, and the amazing work done by the RNLI to name a few.
3. What is your best part of the interaction between you and your readers?
Having spent five years as a struggling, invisible published author, it still feels unreal that I have readers who want to engage with and interact with me so I’m so incredibly grateful to those who do.
It’s lovely hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed reading my stories – flattering, encouraging and a welcome boost – but what touches me most is when a reader contacts me to tell me what a particular storyline has meant to them. This can be anything from the escapism that it has given them at a tough time in their life to a particular storyline that has resonated with them and given them hope for the future.
I cried when a reader shared that she’d named her dog after Sammie in the Hedgehog Hollow books because she’d read the first book shortly after her husband died and it gave her comfort that our loved ones are still with us in spirit even if they’re no longer physically by our side. Another reader contacted me after reading Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, a story about bereavement, telling me she finally felt able to move forward because the host of feelings she’d had about her own bereavements now felt ‘normalised’ because that’s what my characters had gone through and they’d found a way to move forward.
When I started to write, I never considered how powerful books could be and it is a privilege to be able to make a difference to people’s lives through the written word.
4. Who would your ideal dinner guests be?
Assuming they can be people who are no longer with us, I’d have to go through three authors who inspired me as a reader which ultimately put me on the journey to becoming an author. That would be Enid Blyton, Virginia Andrews and Catherine Cookson.
I’d love to chat to them about where they got their amazing story inspiration, how they were able to prolifically produce page-turners and to see whether they had any idea their work would be so beloved after their deaths.
5. Do you like travelling? Where is the best place you have been overseas and at home?
I do love to travel. In my twenties, when I was single, I had a travel buddy and the pair of us went quite a few places together including New Zealand and Australia, both of which I’d love to go back to one day (particularly NZ). I honeymooned in British Columbia in Canada and would love to go back there too.
One of my favourite places more recently was Lapland. We went there before Christmas in 2019 (when we had no idea what was coming our way!) and it was magical. We definitely want to return and would love to visit Iceland too.
In the UK, one of my most favourite places is the Lake District. My husband and I jokingly refer to Keswick as “our spiritual home” and we had the most incredible week there in late summer. We’re going back over Easter and can’t wait.
Jessica Redland is a bestselling author of emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
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Thank you Jessica for answering these questions and sharing some wonderful photos with us. You can buy her latest book by following this link: A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow: The BRAND NEW instalment in the wonderful Hedgehog Hollow series from Jessica Redland for 2022 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0943582JF/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_QV6N2PG02S4T3T6FG32Q?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1