Author, Author! — Jocelyn Green

24 Feb

If you are a fan of historical fiction, then Jocelyn Green needs to be your go-to author. She consistently creates novels with complex characters and meticulously researched historical details. Her books have opened my eyes to the Civil War, the early settlement of Louisiana, and the conflict between British, American colonists, and Native Peoples in the 1700s. I cannot wait to read her latest book, Veiled in Smoke which is set during the Great Chicago Fire and is the first book in a series that explores Chicago history.

Thanks so much, Jocelyn, for sharing with us today about your writing journey.




Q&A with Jocelyn Green

Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

The same was true for me. My first book was writing captions in my Bugs Bunny coloring book to make it an actual story. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing. My first published books were nonfiction, though, mostly devotionals, before I started writing historical fiction.

Why do you write historical fiction?

History still matters today. We can learn so much from the people who lived before us, and how they shaped and were shaped by the events of their generations. Not only can we find inspiration from them, but also a much better perspective as we look at the world today. Unfortunately, so often, history is distilled into a list of dates and names — not interesting at all. The vehicle of historical fiction allows us to explore segments of the past through the lens of the people who lived it. We get to explore the full spectrum of the human condition through the novel. 

Personally, I love learning while being entertained with drama, and studies show that when we’re curious about something — such as what will happen to our heroine in the next chapter — we’re far more likely to remember surrounding details, such as the historical context. To me, that’s the icing on the cake. When readers care about characters and learn about history at the same time, I’m thrilled.

What types of research do you pursue?

All kinds! I use books, scholarly articles, YouTube videos, site visits, interviews with historians and museum curators, interviews with experts on any given topic in the novel. For Veiled in Smoke, aside from reading every book and article about the fire and its aftermath I could find, I toured Chicago with a guide who designed a tour based specifically on what I wanted to know and see before I started writing the novel.  On the same trip, I spent time in the Chicago Historical Society’s archives, reading primary source material such as letters, diaries, first person accounts of the fire, etc. Through the wonder of microfilm, I read newspapers published in Chicago during the weeks and months following the fire. An ongoing correspondence with CHS staff after I went home helped me fill in any blanks I had in my manuscript. 

Other than the historical research, I also consulted with an art professor, bookstore owner, psychologist specializing in work with combat veterans, surgeon, and physical therapist to help me get other details right in my characters’ personal journeys.

Tell us a little about what inspired Veiled in Smoke.

I’m always looking for settings that are rife with conflict and great change, regardless of the century. The Great Chicago Fire was an unprecedented disaster that made 100,000 people homeless overnight, which was a third of the city at the time. Writing about the resurrection of both the city and individuals and families after such an event allows me, as an author, to explore themes of resilience, community, and faith in powerful ways.

How long does it usually take to craft a book?

If we are including the time it takes to research before I start writing, I would say about 18 months until the very last proofing round.

What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing?

A typical writing day looks like me sitting down in my office and cranking out about two thousand words before calling it quits for the day. There is usually a small pot of tea on my desk, a mess of research materials, and one sleeping cat, who is good for moral support. I’m pretty structured in my writing schedule, but I also expect interruptions. I’ve learned to build in extra time to the schedule to allow for those. 

What are you working on next?

Veiled in Smoke is the first book of three in The Windy City Saga, so right now I’m working on the second book. I’m really excited about this series, because we get to watch a family grow through three generations, and see Chicago grow, too. Veiled in Smoke really is a family story, but it focuses more on Meg Townsend, one of the bookshop-owning sisters. Book 2 will be set in Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893, and it’s the story of Meg’s sister Sylvie, who will be 43 years old when the story begins. Book 3 in the series will pick up with Meg’s adult daughter Olive in 1915, which is when the Eastland Disaster took place in the Chicago River. Each book explores a seminal part of Chicago’s history and how the Townsend family overcomes in the face of change and trials.

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.


2 Responses to “Author, Author! — Jocelyn Green”

  1. joyofreadingweb February 25, 2020 at 10:39 am #

    If Jocelyn Green writes it, I will read it! Love her stories!! <3

  2. joynealkidney February 25, 2020 at 12:18 pm #

    All of Jocelyn’s books are well researched, but her characters and stories are what keeps her fans cheering her on!

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