What is your Amish background? How do you get the insights to develop the story, Her Restless Heart?
An uncle lives near an Amish community in Indiana so I saw the Amish quite often when I visited for the summer as a kid. Later, a cousin who lives near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, started taking me to the Paradise area when I visited her. I became fascinated by their dedication to living a more spiritual life, one where family and hard work were cherished. My mother’s family is Swedish, and had nine children. They started a farm and many of my memories visiting there and seeing this big family interact became material for my stories now.
Are you basing your characters on people you know?
I think writers get ideas from people to some degree but I never base a character on one person – that feels a little like an invasion of privacy and I think would also result in a one dimensional character. But that uncle influenced a character who was a farmer more than once.
You seem to have a quilt theme running throughout your books; is there a reason for this?
Years ago, I sat in a car dealership waiting room and noticed that when a quilting show came on the public television channel every person in the room turned to watch it with fascination. Even the men. Quilts and buggies are two iconic elements in Amish life – quilts provide comfort, warmth, and beauty. Buggies are transportation but they cannot take a passenger far because a horse would tire so they keep people close to their community. My editor said that when the quilts theme came up in an editorial meeting every person had a warm memory of a quilt – even the lone man in the room.
Do you have a favorite character in Her Restless Heart? Why?
That would be like choosing one of my own children over another … I find things to love and to shake my head over in all of the characters. I do feel a kinship with Leah, the grandmother in the story, and wish I could have known them but they died when I was young.
How much research did Her Restless Heart take?
As I told my editor when I proposed the Stitches in Time series, I’m a pretty good quilter, a passable knitter, but I had to take weaving lessons as research for the stories about the three very creative cousins in the story who did all these things for the shop. I did a lot of research and hope to do more knitting at some point. Deadlines get in the way for now. I know a lot of writers like to quilt but I tend to get a little obsessive about things and don’t think I could do both writing and such a time-intensive thing like quilting.