Meet my friend and fellow author, Jocelyn Green.
We’ve never met in person but we’ve emailed frequently having found common ground as contributors for Power for Living. Jocelyn is an award-winning author and freelance writer. A former military wife, she authored, along with contributing writers, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and Faith Deployed . . . Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She also co-authored of Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan, which won the Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America in 2010, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front, which inspired her first novel: Wedded to War.
Jocelyn loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. She lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at JocelynGreen.com.
Read on to learn how you can enter to win a copy of Wedded to War.
Congratulations! You’ve just published your first novel—Wedded to War. How does your faith play into your writing?
Faith (or lack of faith) is an integral part of who we are. I can’t imagine not including the spiritual dimension of my characters in their stories. Some of them respond to crisis by drawing closer to God, others allow crisis to be a wedge between them and God. So we get to watch their spiritual development as they get from page 1 to the end of the book.
Let’s talk about Wedded to War (River North Fiction/Moody, July 2012). Please tell us about it.
It’s April 1861, and the Union Army’s Medical Department is a disaster, completely unprepared for the magnitude of war. A small group of New York City women, including 28-year-old Charlotte Waverly, decide to do something about it, and end up changing the course of the war, despite criticism, ridicule and social ostracism. Charlotte leaves a life of privilege, wealth-and confining expectations-to be one of the first female nurses for the Union Army. She quickly discovers that she’s fighting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Corruption, harassment, and opposition from Northern doctors threaten to push her out of her new role. At the same time, her sweetheart disapproves of her shocking strength and independence, forcing her to make an impossible decision: Will she choose love and marriage, or duty to a cause that seems to be losing? An Irish immigrant named Ruby O’Flannery, who turns to the unthinkable in the face of starvation, holds the secret that will unlock the door to Charlotte’s future. But will the rich and poor confide in each other in time?
For more about the series, including helpful resources related to the Civil War, see www.heroinesbehindthelines.com.
A real-life Civil War nurse inspired your work of fiction. How did you first hear about her? What drew you to her story?
I had seen her name in a book called Women at the Front, by Dr. Jane Schultze, and I also read some of her first-person accounts of nursing after Gettysburg while I was doing research in the Adams Country Historical Society in that town. I was drawn to her in particular because of the contrast between what she gave up (a life of privilege and ease) and what she became as she learned to rise above hardships and make a real difference in the war. I also liked the fact that she and an old family friend, a surgeon in the Union army, developed a romance during the war and married a few months after the war ended. Together, they established one of the first nursing schools for women.
The first in the series, Wedded to War, focuses on The United States Sanitary Commission and it’s affect on The Civil War. The Sanitary Commission promoted sterile conditions necessary for medical treatment both in the field and make shift hospitals. It also provided kind-hearted individuals to minister to dying soldiers. Explain some of the restrictions they had to meet to enter the nursing program and later, the obstacles they would face in caregiving.
Many women eventually just showed up to volunteer at the hospitals. But if they wanted to be trained in a nursing program, like my main character and the person who inspired her, she had to complete a written application, provide references as to her character, be interviewed by two committees, and prove she was in general good health.
These nurses also could not wear jewelry, hoops under their skirts, or ruffles or ribbons on their dress. They had to be older than 30 (with few exceptions granted and then regretted), preferably married or widowed. Also, the Superintendent of Female Nurses, Miss Dorothea Dix, required that they be homely in appearance, so as not to arouse the “frustrated desires” of the male patients. So for a beautiful, single 28-year-old to break into this field was a challenge, to say the least.
The obstacles they faced in care giving, once they were accepted as nurses, were many. Usually the male doctors they worked with didn’t want them there in the first place because hospitals had been in the male domain up until then. So many doctors made life absolutely miserable for the nurses in order to get them to give up. Women nurses who were trained to be in supervisory roles were made to do the most menial, disgusting chores in the hospitals (think no running water, no water closets in the building). They were also given a terrible diet of food, not much better than a soldier’s rations, and made to sleep in extremely uncomfortable places. Sexual harassment was also present in some cases. There were more challenges than this—you’ll have to read Wedded to War to find out what they were! J
The idea of being free or set free is a strong element throughout Wedded to War. What does the word freedom mean to you?
Freedom often conjures up the idea of democracy, liberty, and rights. But the other side of freedom is internal. Even if I live in the “land of the free,” if my heart, spirit, or mind is bound up by sin or deception, I’m not truly free. Ruby’s character illustrates this—she wasn’t really free for a long time. She was enslaved to guilt, shame, and lies. But Jesus sets the captives free.
Readers! Did you learn something new about Civil War nursing conditions as a result of this interview? If so, post a comment stating your new tidbit of historical knowledge and you’ll be entered to win a random draw for a copy of “Wedded to War.”