Sunday author Q & A

with Jess Connolly

North Carolina is home to a wide variety of talented authors and no matter how far they go later in life, the state seems to take a hold of their hearts and impact the stories they tell. For Jess Connolly, that is most certainly the case as “Wild and Free” starts out by describing the force and beauty of the horses in Corolla that grabbed her attention one day when she saw them on TV. Co-authored with Hayley Morgan (who also briefly called North Carolina home), this book challenges and inspires women to be wild and free in their lives, just like those majestic horses. The authors trade off writing chapter-by-chapter and uncover the many insecurities and questions women often face by sharing moments and memories from their own lives.

We got to talk with Jess and hear more about her thoughts on growing up in North Carolina, writing a book, and what her life looks like now.

What are your North Carolina roots?

Connolly: I was born and raised in Charlotte and both sides of my extended family are North Carolina natives! My mom was raised in Charlotte and my dad was raised in Shelby, N.C. They met as summer workers at Carowinds in the ‘70s. My husband and I moved to South Carolina for college and moved back to Charlotte after we married to help start a church in North Charlotte.

Where are you now and how do you spend your days?

Now I live in Charleston, S.C. I’m a pastor’s wife, mom to four kiddos, author, and speaker. My days are a mix of writing, working, playing with kids, spending time with women in our church, and lots of coffee!

What prompted you to write a book?

We both felt the prompt to write “Wild and Free” because WE needed to read it. We saw so many women around us struggling with the issues that were plaguing us— feeling too much and not enough—and we knew that God made us for more than that stifled and scared kind of living.

What was the process like to co-author it?

It was sticky at times, but honestly such a gift. Neither of us could have written this book on our own, and neither of us wanted to. I see the Lord so mightily in Hayley and it was such an honor to write alongside her. He words are a balm to me still as I read it over!

How did where you were from have influence 
on your work?

Specifically for our book, culture and location played a HUGE part in how we wrote the book. We both grew up in such parallel communities and that was one of the major points to us that proved women across America needed this book. If such different towns and cultures can have such similarly plaguing problems, surely this wasn’t just a thing with us. Also, North Carolina gets a major shout-out in the first chapter as we talk about the wild horses of Corolla!

What is one thing you hope readers get out 
of the book?

I hope the women who read this book feel it’s the words they’ve been looking for to cry out and declare their own wild freedom. I pray they realize they’re already wild and they’re already free.

What books are currently on your summer reading list?

I’m re-reading “Half the Church” by Carolyn Custis James and “Sisterhood” by Bobbie Houston.


“Wild and Free” was released on May 3, 2016 and is a USA Today Best Seller and was also on Amazon’s Best Seller list.


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