Character Spotlight ~ Hillary Manton Lodge’s Sara Burkholder & William Blythe

Sara & Will


As you know Amish fiction isn’t really my thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed Hillary’s debut novel, Plain Jayne so I am certainly looking forward to Simply Sara as Amish girl, Sara, hits the big smoke!

Enjoy this look at Hillary’s latest characters.

Over to you, Hillary:~

Brief physical description

Sara Burkholder is on the petite side and blond, with a delicate facial structure. This is the photo we used for Sara when putting together the cover. I have no idea who she is, but she’s the right age, facial structure, hair – and you can tell she’s got spunk :-)

Will is about 6’1″, with perpetually shaggy hair and stubbly face. I thought he looked like Robert Schwartzman from The Princess Diaries.

Strengths and weaknesses

Sara has a lot of courage. She’s smart, hardworking, and makes friends easily. She gets too hung up about being independent and trying to be English, at least how she sees being English.

Will…I love Will. He doesn’t smile much. He’s quiet, studious, and defensive because of it. He’s cranky and sarcastic and not particularly dialed-in to his emotions. And when he meets someone like Sara…well…he doesn’t know how to handle it.

Quirk (if any)


When Sara doesn’t understand English things, she’ll look it up on Google.

Will is kind of all quirk. He has an old BMW he rarely drives, he’s obsessive about books.


Your inspiration for the character

Sara was kind of funny because I wrote a sister character for Levi in Plain Jayne to give Jayne a hard time and eventually become a friend. We talked about maybe doing a book about her, but nothing was set in stone for several months. She was inspired more by necessity than anything else, so it was interesting to flesh her out into someone who could carry her own book.

Will was inspired a little by Frederique Farmer in Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes, in that Freddie is grumpy, and I’ve always loved that about her. His intensity about books was inspired by George in You’ve Got Mail, and how he wanted everyone who worked in the Children’s section to have a PhD. That would pretty much be Will :-)

But I have to be honest – the more I wrote Will, the more I realized he was deeply, deeply inspired by the character of Luke in Gilmore Girls. Totally unintentional, but undeniable just the same. Two very different characters, but they would certainly get along well (which is saying something for both of them). Either way, I loved the idea early on of writing someone who wasn’t a happy happy nice guy. I’d written a couple of those already, so I liked the idea of doing someone with a very different personality.

Rel here:~ Siri’s Chateau of Echoes was the very first review I did when I commenced my blog in 2006! You can read it here :)

Background to the story

Simply Sara picks up right where Plain Jayne left off, this time in Sara’s head. When I was working on Jayne, I decided I wanted to write a book with books in it, so when it was time to give Sara a job, I picked a bookstore. The bookstore wound up being pretty central to the book, since that’s where we meet William.

As with Jayne, I wanted to write a different kind of Amish book. I loved seeing Sara’s journey through her new life, dealing with the culture shock of making such a huge change in her life. I write about a lot of different kinds of media, so I really had to think about how Sara would feel encountering some of my favorite movies and music for the first time.

The spiritual story I wanted to tell was how Sara dealt with the what the Amish told her about God and justifying it with what Jayne’s English church says. It took some work to flesh that arc out from start to finish, but I was pleased how it turned out :-)

Thanks Hillary ~ love your spotlights, there is always great detail and Will sounds terrific :)


On Thursday, Melody Carlson shares more about her four Lindas from her second in the series, Hometown Ties.


Relz Reviewz Extras

Review of Plain Jayne

Character spotlight on Jayne & Levi

Visit Hillary’s website and blog

Buy Hillary’s book at Amazon or Koorong

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One Response to Character Spotlight ~ Hillary Manton Lodge’s Sara Burkholder & William Blythe

  1. Loved Jayne! Can't wait to read this one…love that it's set in a bookstore.

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