Thanksgiving is coming, the turkey’s getting fat. Please put a storyon my Kindle… yeah?
Okay, so skip the very bad parody and let’s get into the real deal. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a Thanksgiving novella collection. But when Celebrate Lit asked me to help with cover art, I had to find out more… and more… and well, I even got a chance to read one of them—prepublication.
So, I decided to ask the authors about their work. Yep. Those three authors are my:
3 Simple Reasons I’m thankful for Love’s Thankful Heart
Because these authors are super cool, interesting folks. And I wanted to share interviews with them to celebrate the release of this collection, and to celebrate Thanksgiving this week!
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First up: Rachel J. Good:
You seem to have a fresh take on the Amish genre, writing stories that aren’t rehashed ideas we’ve all seen before. Did you set out to do this or is it just a happy side effect of being you?
I think it’s a combination of both. I come from a long line of unconventional characters (my family tree would probably make fascinating fodder for stories), & I’ve had some unusual experiences. I’m not sure if it’s that background or just my unique take on events, but I find I frequently look at life differently than other people around me, so some of that plays into my story ideas. I also try not to write plots that are similar to what other authors write.
One other thing that helps is having Amish friends. I see them facing many problems that most people wouldn’t consider “Amish” problems. I don’t ever copy those problems exactly for reasons of privacy, but those situations often jump start my imagination.
If this book had a theme song, what would it be? Bonus points for a YouTube link.
I’ll do my best on this one as I’m an author who prefers silence when I write, and I stick to classical instrumental music during the rare times I turn on music. I think “Trust in the Lord” sung by Rob and Heidi Paoletti expresses Faithe’s beliefs, and Crist comes to accept this too.
The first character that came to me was Crist because one of my Amish friends had just made a quilt for my daughter. She had me make the check out to her husband, whose name was Crist. I loved the name & decided to use it for the story.
The quilt triggered a memory from years ago when I arrived in Marseilles, France, at 2 AM to discover the train station shut down. I was kicked out into the cold night by the janitor and didn’t have money for a hotel. I needed to catch a 7 AM bus there, so I found a heating grate on the sidewalk, took a quilt out of my luggage (I was bringing it to my daughter, who was studying in France), and wrapped up in it.
I fell asleep and woke a few hours later to discover a homeless man sharing the heating grate with me. He looked so cold, I let him use the quilt. And we talked a bit – him in some broken English, me with my very limited French. I was curious why such a dignified man was homeless. I never forgot that, and I knew I wanted to put a homeless man like him into a story someday.
So I had the idea for a homeless man, and I was working on another Amish book coming out in April 2018, THE AMISH TEACHER’S GIFT. I’d already come up with a restaurant for that book, and Faithe was a minor character who opened her restaurant to the homeless. The two ideas merged seamlessly. That happens a lot when I plot – several unrelated ideas suddenly fit together like puzzle pieces – I always feel like God is leading me to these new discoveries.
In the same way, my characters reveal things to me as I write. I didn’t know all of Crist’s backstory when I began. I only knew he faced a tragedy in his past that caused him to turn away from God. The rest of his backstory unfolded as I wrote.
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Up next: Laura V. Hilton
What about Amish fiction intrigues and inspires you? Did you always know it was “your genre” or did you fall into it because of a story idea or two and just kept running with it.
I grew up wanting to write — this was before the days of Amish fiction as a genre. I do remember reading a young adult series or two about Amish, but nothing really clicked and said this is the way back then.
I learned to write by reading and writing contemporary romances, played with chick lit during its brief time in popularity, and then after Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstettler took reign over the Amish genre and I started reading other Amish books by different authors, some good, some not. I decided it’d be fun to write an Amish contemporary romance.
My maternal grandparents were Amish, and my husband’s aunt (not Amish) lives in Amish country.
When we were visiting my husband’s relatives I saw a trailer packed full of young Amish single men. Standing room only! The pickup pulling it was piled full of duffel bags and suitcases. My imagination was piqued.
So I pooled my resources and wrote a proposal. I didn’t expect it to sell. I figured it would just be for me — a way to learn a little about my heritage and settle my curiosity about what those young men were possibly doing. It sold on proposal, and my agent is big on branding so I am an “Amish author”.
In that respect, I suppose I fell into it.
However, it is about my ancestors, and I suppose distant relatives, and I love writing about them and continuing to learn about them so in that respect I just kept running with it.
I also write contemporary romances (one published with Abingdon Press) and even have one historical novella published with Barbour Books. I also had Abingdon Press, Barbour Books, and Tyndale Fiction hold onto contemporary and historical ideas for a time, some of which I’ve since self-published.
If you could have any of your books made into a Hallmark Movie, which would it be and why?
It’s funny that you asked because my agent and publisher has been approached about possibly making one of my books into a movie. It is still very much up in the air, not sure what will happen, but it’s kind of cool to think about it happening! I’m not at liberty to discuss which it would be and why would only be speculation, but you know, this is just wow. Who am I?
In Gingerbread Wishes, what do you hope the readers will be most blessed by?
I tried to think of a good answer to this. If you are asking what I hope readers will come away with, I try to leave the faith message up to God. Readers have gotten things out of my stories that I never would’ve considered as a blessing or a faith message or a life lesson.
However, I think one of the things I was blessed by in this story was the reminder that the God of the good times is still God in the bad times. “The God on the mountain is still God in the valley” (to quote a song).
I tracked down Laura’s social media and you can find her at:
And Finally… Thomas Nye!
You write Amish fiction as a resident near Amish country in Iowa. How are the Iowa Amish different from the Old Order Lancaster County Amish?
Yes, I live near the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi. However, I’ve visited Amish communities all over the U.S. including Lancaster, just last summer.
The first thing I notice when I’m in Lancaster are the women’s coverings. They are heart-shaped, which would seem too fancy for our Amish. Also, little girls in that part of Pennsylvania don’t wear coverings until they are around middle school age. In Iowa, females wear head coverings from infancy.
Also, Iowan Amish don’t ride bicycles or scooters. And, when speaking English, Amish in Lancaster have more of a lilt in their accent and Iowan Amish sound a little choppier. Having said all of that, I’d have to add, I’m surprised how similar Amish seem to be wherever I go.
Most people don’t associate men with Amish fiction. What got you interested in writing Amish fiction?
About 30 years ago, I worked in a warehouse for the Mennonite organization, Choice Books, and handled many Amish novels. My wife and I enjoyed reading a few Amish books to each other, which sprouted an idea. Since I longed for Amish novels that focused a little more on the horse and farming aspect of Amish life, I decided to try to write what I wanted to read.
Some authors choose to write Amish fiction. I became an author because I had wonderful experiences with my Amish neighbors and wanted to share them with the world. Oh, and I’m a man who enjoys a little romance in a movie or book.
In Thanksgiving Frolic, Monroe has a pride problem with the “fastest horse” and the “prettiest girl.” Was it a deliberate show of how the Amish are just people like the rest of us who just live a little differently, or was that accidental? Why did you choose this particular theme for this story?
Humans all struggle with the same things. No, it wasn’t a deliberate example. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that anyone would take that away from this story. It’s always fun when people see something in my stories I didn’t think about.
I’ve been so blessed with Amish friendships for so many years, I sometimes forget what will surprise readers. I chose this theme because my goal is to write what I’ve witnessed in ordinary Amish life. It is quite common for young Amish men to be tempted to have pride in their horse just as English boys might be with a car. And, single boys everywhere notice pretty girls.
I feel quite certain that Amish people will enjoy the Thanksgiving Frolic, and ask me as they do about my other novels, “Is this a true story?”
Thomas added also:
Thank you so much, Chautona, for taking time for this interview. Thank you book lovers for reading my answers to Chautona’s questions. Please take a moment to visit my Amish Horses
My books focus on Amish and horses, with a Christian foundation, and a touch of romance.
There you have it! You can get Love’s Thankful Heart from Amazon in print and on Kindle!