Today’s interview in my series of “Mix-It-Up” interviews is with Sarah Price. Sarah’s Mennonite ancestors came over from Prussia in the 17oo’s and settled in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania. Her rich family history gives her unique and authentic insights to the Amish culture. Sarah is a woman who is full of life. I find her inspiring. When I heard she wrote an Amish take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I knew I was going to like her. I’m halfway through that book, First Impressions, right now, and I am loving it!
For this interview, I chose to “speak”with the main character from her book, An Amish Buggy Ride, which was published by Waterfall Press in November. I really appreciate Sarah taking the time to get into Kate’s character for this interview. Unfortunately, Sarah didn’t have time for a phone call, but I tried to get the same interactive feel. 🙂
Kate: I liked meeting with Sarah Price. She is a naturally happy person with an awful lot of energy.
Chautona: I liked her too. In Michigan at the summit, she really energized the discussions. We all felt it. We’d be talking and she’d get this idea and suddenly her hands would fly and she’d be talking a mile a minute.
Kate: She’s much more talkative than most Amish women that I know. She’s also a good listener. As I told her the story, even the hard parts about David and his behavior, she didn’t seem judgmental. I do like that about her.
Chautona: I think that is one of the most beautiful things about Sarah. She really loves people.
Kate: She’s also very interested in a lot of things, especially the animals on the farm. Why, we could scarce pull her away from the horses! I know that she and her husband rescue a lot of animals, especially horses and ponies.
Chautona: Her love of horses was apparent to me from the first day. She told a fun story about her daughter’s love of their horse and Cat’s fear that the horse might love a friend more than her. It was so sweet.
Kate: She’s also very concerned with taking care of nature. I know she got quite upset when she saw the land development around our home. The price of land in Lancaster is so high that young couples either have to work among the Englische or move away to different states. When she sees that farmers have sold their land to developers to build houses, she gets most upset…not just because of the loss of farm land for the Amish but for the loss of land itself. She is definitely a steward of the earth.
Chautona: It does make you wonder if her heritage plays a part in that. She seems to have a love of all nature, animals, and her heritage. And considering that her heritage is that of closeness to the land, it seems almost ingrained in her—kind of like how the skirl of the bagpipes touches me in a way that nothing else does. Hmm… too bad I didn’t get the Scottish frugality too.
So, why do you think Sarah Price wanted to tell this story?
Kate: She actually discussed this with me.
Chautona: Whew! I am so glad I’m not the only author who talks to her characters. Okay, fine. So talking is um… mild. I tend to yell at them. “Just TALK about it already” was my mantra during Matchmakers of Holly Circle–which reminds me, Sarah has a book coming out in February–The Matchmaker. This is the Amish version of Jane Austen’s Emma. I can’t wait to read it. Stay tuned for that book launch as well. I’ll be giving away copies. Anyway, sorry Kate. I interrupted you. I’m good at that.
Kate: When we first met to talk about the story and to get to know each other, she told me that this story would be published with this Waterfall Press company. She said it was her first book with them and she was interested in my story because it was different.
I know what she means.
As a rule, Amish are not partial to those books written about us. They aren’t very accurate about our way of life and they seem to have the same storylines, most of which aren’t very authentic. Why, one would think that Amish girls are chasing after Englische men all the time!
Chautona: Yeah, I never understood that. The Amish are unique and interesting enough in and of themselves. Why do we try to “English-ize” ‘em? Why can’t we enjoy their uniqueness as it is?
Kate: Sarah wanted to tell this story because it showed the real side of the Amish. You see, we are people, and we are not perfect. David has his flaws, as do Maem, Daed, Samuel, even me. Only Jesus was perfect. We can attempt to be seed on good ground, for Scripture provides us the ground. How we root ourselves in order to grow is up to us. But we are all prone to make mistakes and, as such, must learn the hardest lesson of all: forgiveness…forgiveness of others as well as ourselves.
Chautona: And that is why I enjoyed Sarah’s book. I’ve seen two strong trends in Amish fiction. Either they are written of as if they have no faults and have a corner on the spiritual market, or they are sinners with and out to prove it to the world. She showed that like any “religious group” the Amish have members who are using the “working out their faith” to try to earn their salvation and there are others who completely trust the Lord for that salvation and their “works” are a result of that salvation.
So… continuing on, what is the author’s worst habit?
Kate: She does seem to lose her train of thought frequently. During our discussions, she seemed to think faster than she could speak! Sometimes she would start a topic, interrupt herself to talk about something else, and then return to the original topic. At first it was hard to follow her in conversation, but as I got to know her better, it was interesting to actually see how she thinks. I never consider being about to do that.
Chautona: No wonder I like her so much. I drive some of my friends crazy by doing stuff like that. We’ll be chatting in person or on messenger, and I’m working three conversations at once. My friends are very long suffering.
So… who is your favorite character—besides yourself—and why?
Kate: Oh, that’s an easy question. Samuel. There was so much I learned about Samuel during the events that took place in this story. He taught me so much about forgiveness. He also taught me that so many people take on the burdens of others.
Chautona: And too often it’s a misuse of “bearing one another’s burdens.” We’re not supposed to bear one another’s guilt of sin. That’s one burden that isn’t ours to bear. Jesus already did it. But it’s the one we gravitate toward fastest sometimes, don’t you think? How did that affect you all?
Kate: I hadn’t realized how David’s actions were so far reaching into the community. Of course, I knew that they impact Ruth’s family as well as ours. But to know how many others felt the pain and suffered from self-inflicted guilt? That was a lesson that I won’t forget, and I can only thank Samuel for opening my eyes to how others are affected by our actions.
Chautona: So, Kate, what else does Sarah have planned for 2015?
Kate: Sarah told me that she was meeting with another woman, Rosanna Troyer, in another church district. This poor woman, a widow who remarried, had a rough spell in her life. From what Sarah told me, Rosanna’s first husband was an awful lot like my bruder, David. Some of the same issues and a similar situation occurred. Quite sad, really. Rosanna sounds like she gives a lot to others and doesn’t take time for herself. I know how that feels. In Rosanna’s case, she sounds like she didn’t have a Samuel in her life to help her through the rough patches. Sarah said she is publishing that story, An Empty Cup, in April. I should like to read that very much!
Chautona: Oooh, that sounds good. I can’t wait to read that. Sarah seems to do a fabulous job with the raw, almost gritty side of the Amish. Now, for a more whimsical question, what dream does the author have that you wish you could make come true?
Kate: I get the impression that Sarah Price wants to reach out to her readers and help them through difficult situations, to inspire them with her writing. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to talk with her and to share my story.
Chautona: I understand. I think I would trust Sarah with my story too. I think you made a wise decision.
Kate: After hearing about Sarah’s next book, An Empty Cup, I know that I’m not alone in dealing with these issues. Alcoholism, depression, even verbal abuse is real. Just because we are Amish does not mean we are not impacted by such matters.
I hope my story helps other women who might see themselves among the pages. Perhaps this book, An Amish Buggy Ride, will give them the strength to stand up and seek happiness. We deserve to be happy: we do not have to live in the shadows of other people’s mistakes.
Chautona: And you did what was the first step in seeking that happiness—you turned to the Lord. And when you did, the healing He began in you through Samuel’s kindness helped turn you to Him for that happiness.
Kate: Life has its ups and downs. Even among the Amish, we tend to tell more about our ups and remain silent about our downs. But talking and sharing does help in healing. Just as having faith in God helps us through difficult times. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19 KJV).
Chautona: Well thank you for sharing your story with us—and for giving us a little more of who Sarah is. I know you’re busy, and Samuel is probably wondering when I’ll stop yakking at you. 😉