The Inside Scoop!
and her Amish novel
I grew up in… Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a great city to be a kid in back in the sixties and seventies. We could ride the bus downtown to the library or a movie, or I could ride my bike for miles on country roads. Kalamazoo is also only forty miles from Lake Michigan, so I spent many summer days there. There’s nothing like watching the sunset over the Lake!
I was inspired to write my first published novel by… At the time I started writing my first novel (The Prodigal Son Returns), I had read many Amish novels that took place in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Holmes County, Ohio. But each Amish community has its own personality, and I wanted to help readers become familiar with Indiana’s Amish Country.
The books that have most influenced my life are… The Bible, of course. Elisabeth Elliott’s books have also had a great influence on my life as a Christian wife and mother.
My biggest challenge when writing is… getting the first draft done! It takes great discipline for me to stay at my computer until I have my daily word count done. Once I get to the end, though, I love the revision and editing processes.
One of my favourite authors is… J.R.R. Tolkien. His “Lord of the Rings” remains my favourite story even more than forty years after I first read the trilogy. He was an author with superb command of the English language, and I often read and re-read his descriptions to try to understand how he wrote so well.
If I wasn’t a writer, I would be… before I started writing I was a homeschool mom. I loved teaching my children and I miss doing it. So if I wasn’t a writer, I think I would be working somewhere with homeschoolers, either mentoring other moms or writing curriculum.
The superhero talent I would love to have is… I would love to be able to eavesdrop on conversations from across a room. I have an insatiable curiosity about people and their lives. I guess that’s one reason why I enjoy making up characters for my books.
Hannah Yoder loves her quiet life on the banks of the Conestoga Creek.
In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful–yet problems lurk beneath the placid façade. Hannah’s father worries about the spread of liberal ideas from their Mennonite and Brethren neighbors. And Hannah blames herself for a tragedy that struck their home nine years ago. She strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her mother’s ongoing depression and her sister’s rejection of their family. But her world is threatening to unravel.
My latest novel can be described by these 5 adjectives… tender, bittersweet, encouraging, poignant, hopeful.
My main character is… Hannah Yoder is eighteen years old, medium height and build, with light brown hair and brown eyes. Her family experienced a tragedy nine years before the story starts with the loss of the three youngest children in a diphtheria outbreak. Hannah feels responsible for their deaths, and her greatest motivation is her desire to bring her family back together – to capture the joy and closeness they felt before the little ones died.
My main character resembles… my grandmother. Even though she knew tragedy and heartache, she was a strong woman and did whatever was necessary to provide for her family during the depression of the 1930’s.
A previously unknown fact about this novel is… Liesbet, Hannah’s wayward sister, is based on a real person. And no, I’m not going to say who it is!
My story’s spiritual theme is… trust in God’s plan. Proverbs 3: 5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
While writing this novel I learned… the lingering grief of past losses that are deep within me. As I wrote about how each of the family members dealt with the loss of the little ones nine years earlier, I explored every aspect of my own experiences and relived them. It was a healing experience, but very draining.
The title was chosen by… I suggested three or four titles to Revell’s marketing team, and they chose this one. I’m glad they did, because it was my favourite on the list!
As an author, the hardest scenes for me to write are… The hardest scenes for me to write are the transitions that are necessary between the scenes with a lot of action or change in the characters. Those transition scenes are low-key and provide an emotional rest for the reader, but it’s hard for me to keep them from being boring.
The story I’m currently working on is… the third book in the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series. This story is due out in June 2017, and I hope it will provide a satisfying end to the trilogy.
You may not know this about me, but I… Like most writers, I’m an introvert. I enjoy being with family and friends, but there comes a point when I crave my alone time. That’s when I’ll close the door on the world and bury myself in a book.
If I could be a character in any novel, I would want to be… Laura Ingalls from the Little House books – an everlasting childhood.