Since starting her blog Cornfields & High Heels, Jamie Ward has traveled extensively throughout Indiana and the Midwest, trying new things and journaling about her experiences.
A native of northern Indiana, Ward has a new book from Reedy Press that shares some of her insights — and dozens of suggestions for making the most of traveling in the state — with her readers.
What sparked your interest in writing this book?
I started out as a travel writer and started my blog about six years ago. This presented an opportunity to write an anthology book in 2020 during the pandemic. I co-wrote this book – Midwest Road Trip Adventures – with 11 other travel writers and it got me a foot in the door.
No one had ever made a book like this for the state as a whole. There were 100 Things books for Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, but nothing for Indiana. So I took this opportunity because I have traveled so much around the state. I just walked with it.
How did you get on the list?
It was very difficult to narrow down to 100 things, but the title is really a little deceiving because I address over 300 things and places in Indiana through tips and lists and the like within the actual list of 100.
I had a list – a big one – and I just went through it and narrowed it down. I had some hidden gems, along with some personal preferences based on what I consider “uniquely” Indiana. You’ll find some things you’d expect to find in Indiana, but there’s a lot in the book that people, even those who live here, don’t know about.
I did everything I ended up making the list and did my best to cover the entire state.
How did your blog and work as a travel writer influence your approach to writing this book?
I have a good mix of readers and subscribers from the central and northern Indiana area, which has given me a good variety of opinions and ideas. As I was writing the book, I also reached out to my followers to get their thoughts on some things that should be included – what they would like to do in the state and what they think would warrant inclusion. There was a lot of support throughout the process.
You spoke of taking the opportunity to write this. How important was it that a native American Indian wrote this book?
It wasn’t required that the person was from Indiana, but I think it was important. … I hear a lot of people who haven’t been Hoosiers their whole lives say there’s nothing to do in Indiana.
I am passionate about my own state and want to help people discover all the uniqueness that Indiana has to offer. You don’t have to leave your state for a weekend getaway, spring break, or vacation. You don’t have to have a lot of money to have a good time either.
I like to be authentic in everything I write about so I can really speak about those experiences. There is so much to appreciate here.•