Her Restless Heart, Stitches in Time Series #1Her Restless Heart, Stitches in Time Series #1
Barbara Cameron
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Mary Katherine is caught between the traditions of her faith and the pull of a different life. When Daniel, an Amish man living in Florida, arrives and shares her restlessness, Mary Katherine feels drawn to him and curious about the life he leads away from Lancaster County.

But her longtime friend Jacob has been in love with her for years. He's discouraged that she's never viewed him as anything but a friend and despairs that he is about to lose Mary Katherine to this outsider.

Will the conflicted Mary Katherine be lost to the Englisch world, or to Daniel, who might take her away to Florida? Or will she embrace her Amish faith and recognize Jacob as the man she should marry and build a life with?
     


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barbara Cameron Barbara Cameron is the author of over twenty novels and three nationally televised movies (HBO), as well as a recipient of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart. Her Amish stories are inspired by her visits to Lancaster Co., PA.

Favorite Verse: Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (It reminds me to turn to others and pray together.)


 

 Our Interview with Barbara Cameron


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I write inspirational Amish romances for Abingdon Press and have also written two novella collections for Thomas Nelson (with Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long). I was hired to write for the city newspaper right out of high school after a type of cooperative education internship with them. Later I went back to college to finish my education interrupted by constantly missing class to cover stories. I actually missed my journalism final and flunked the class – but was writing front page stories for the newspaper! I taught high school, then college English, publishing fiction and non-fiction books around teaching. Now I write full-time and occasionally teach online classes.
 
I live on the east coast of Florida and have two grown children and four grandchildren—two girls, two boys. And I have a pack of Chihuahuas (4) who keep me company each day.

How did you come up with the concept for Her Restless Heart?
 
I kept thinking about how young people – whether Englisch or Amish – experience conflict over their traditional background and what feels right for them. While my parents were creative (dad was an artist and my mother is talented in gardening and flower arranging) I’ve seen how some people don’t value that. My heroine experiences all the above conflicts and isn’t sure if staying in the Amish community is right for her.

 

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.


  

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Her Restless Heart?

I’m fascinated with how enterprising and resourceful Amish women are in making a home and often running their own businesses or being a working partner with their husbands on the family farm. A woman who ran an Amish/Mennonite information resource type of museum gave me a lot of information on that.
 
I’ve also learned how self-sufficient the Amish are. They don’t draw Social Security and they help each other with medical expenses.
 
How many books will be in the Stitches in Time series?

The series is projected to have three stories: Her Restless Heart, The Heart’s Journey, and Heartland (tentative title). Then again, I thought that the Quilts of Lancaster County would be a three book series but my editor surprised me and bought a fourth book based on the characters that will be a Christmas novel.
 
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
A friend told me that no matter how much time I get to write, I always want more. And I always want to know more about the craft so I’ve got my nose in a book to learn and also because I enjoy reading so much.
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love the challenge. Even when I complain about it being hard, I still can’t think of anything I’d rather do. I have a line my grandmother in Stitches in Time says about one of her granddaughters: “you wouldn’t want to do it (her creative pursuit) if it was easy.”

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I like to encourage students to become interested in writing whether it’s to improve their skills or to write creatively. I also use my writing skills to educate people about animal rescue work. I try to use humor as well as persuasive writing to get the message across. I’ve gone a little overboard though and brought home three Chihuahuas in one year who seem to baffle my elderly Chihuahua with their antics. While it’s been fun to have them, it’s quite a pack to have sometimes.
 
In doing research on the Amish, I have learned how much they do for each other and their community and I try to pass that on in my stories. Much of The Heart’s Journey, Book 2 of Stitches in Time, is set in Pinecraft, near Sarasota, Florida. It’s the site of one of a number of yearly auctions the Amish and Mennonites hold there and around the country to help Haiti – they’ve been doing so for many years, well before the earthquake happened.

I’ve been looking for a way to raise awareness of what we can do to prevent hunger in my community – I think people would be better off if I use my writing skills than if I cook for them!

What new projects are on the horizon?

Abingdon Press bought a contemporary (non-Amish) romantic suspense from me for their new Quilts of Love line. I start on that after I finish this third Stitches in Time book. Then they’ve contracted with me for a third three-book Amish series.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Her Restless Heart?
 
An estimated eighty percent of Amish young people stay with their community because they’ve developed such a strong connection with their faith and their family and friends. Some readers and writers of Amish fiction talk about the Amish living a simpler life. But I think it’s important to understand that it’s about centering your life around living with deep spiritual principles rather than trying to eliminate technology and live simpler.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Oh, I love this question! I had this bunk bed (I was the oldest so I got the top bunk) and could be found there whenever my family missed me. It was like my tree house where I read anything and everything. My favorite book was a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry with beautiful illustrations. I wore out several copies of Jane Eyre – I loved the way she stood up for what she thought was right. And then I also loved reading Life Magazine … my dad was appalled to find me reading a story about a little boy who’d been found dead. But that started my interest in writing for the newspaper…


 

What is your greatest achievement?

I have three I could not have achieved without God’s help: I had a son and a daughter when there was some doubt we’d be able to and I’ve published dozens of books.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I live in Florida so I enjoy being outside with my dogs or visiting the beach. And I love visiting with my grown children and my grandchildren.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

God has so blessed me by guiding me toward my writing. Not only do I get to do something I love and share what I’ve learned along my spiritual journey – I learn by letting His hand guide me by helping write those stories. I have the best readers. They write to thank me, encourage me, and when they say that each book gets better it challenges me to try to write a story they’ll like even more next time.


 
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