What is your favorite verse from the Bible?
I have at least twenty favorite verses that I've used as prayers over my family for well over two decades, but I did manage to select just one. Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that he would give you, according to his glorious riches, strength in your inner being and power through his Spirit in the inward man . . . "
How closely is this novel based on your life?
The events as they’re laid out in this story are completely fiction, but the emotional ties to certain plot lines, like Luke and Mary’s buggy accident or Hannah’s family and community expecting submission to their ways, are based on life as I’ve experienced it.
How did you choose the story line?
Well . . . I think it chose me. For years a snippet of a scene with the heroine doing something would come to me. I wasn’t a writer, so it didn’t dawn on me to jot it down or give the scene leeway to play out in my mind. But I remember asking myself questions like: why would she do that? Isn’t that an odd way for a modern woman to handle a situation? Eventually the answer became clear: because the character had been raised Amish.
So, over the years the story grew and grew, one tiny scene at a time, until I started dreaming that I was pregnant with a baby so large I couldn’t give birth. It wasn’t until after the Mt. Hermon conference that my dreams changed and rather than having one infant too large to give birth to, I dreamed I gave birth to triplets.
Do you prefer to write contemporary fiction?
Yes, based on what I understand of myself, I’ll always write contemporary. I want to connect with people through emotional and spiritual struggles that affect and tempt us in today’s lifestyles. At the same time I want to address life’s darker side from a perspective of deep moral conviction. Those two desires cause a contrast in writing and that’s where, for me, insights take place for today’s living and whenever an insight unveils itself we can then grab onto it and become better at living.
What are some of the challenges you face being an author?
The biggest challenge, other than getting the story written, is the time that must be devoted to the other aspects of being a writer. My admiration for those who have been writing for years has expanded greatly through my experience over the last year. It’s quite a feat of nonstop juggling, but I feel blessed to be allowed this opportunity and very, very grateful that WaterBrook and my wonderful editor, Shannon Hill, don’t mind giving me a year to get a novel written.
The other challenge for me is how little I knew of the industry coming in. I get hit regularly with new aspects to the writing industry that I was totally oblivious to. So, although I was offered my first three-book contract without an agent, I wanted to get one before I signed the contract. I’m very grateful to have Steve Laube as my agent. Not only has his presence calmed me on numerous occasions, but he’s someone I can e-mail long lists of questions to and know he’ll have sound answers that will help me get the issues into perspective as well as make much wiser daily decisions.
How long did When the Heart Cries take you to complete?
It took me five years of learning to write and doing research among the Amish, but once When the Heart Cries became an idea it took a year write it and a few more months to get it to a point where I was willing to turn it in to a publishing house.