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Amy ClipstonAmy Clipston is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She holds a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time as a public information specialist for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband and two sons.

Favorite Verse: Romans 12:12 (NIV) "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."


 

 Christianbook.com Interview with Amy Clipston


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in New Jersey.  I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, when I was 18 and attended Virginia Wesleyan College, earning a degree in communications.  In 2006, my family and I relocated to North Carolina.  I work full-time as a Human Resources Specialist. I have one amazing husband, two precious sons, and three spoiled-rotten cats.

How did you come up with the concept for A Plain and Simple Christmas?

The idea for A Plain & Simple Christmas came to life during a visit to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Sue Brower, my editor at Zondervan, and I were sitting in her room at the Creekside Inn, located in Paradise, and we were talking about my upcoming book projects and deadlines.  Sue actually suggested that I write a story about a shunned Amish woman who wants to come back to Lancaster to visit her family for Christmas. The story grew from there, and I’m very thankful to Sue for suggesting the concept.

Is any part of A Plain and Simple Christmas true?

The story isn’t true, but the places mentioned in the book are real. This story takes place in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, which is the name location of my Kauffman Amish Bakery series books.

How closely is A Plain and Simple Christmas based on your life experiences? 

While the story isn’t based on my life, I can relate to Anna Mae’s longing to be with her family during the holidays, since my husband and I have relatives who live out of state.

How long did A Plain and Simple Christmas take you to complete?

It took me approximately a month to write the first draft. In total, the editing process took approximately another month or two.

Do you have a favorite character in A Plain and Simple Christmas? Why?

My favorite character is Kathryn Beiler. She speaks her mind and follows her heart, almost to the detriment of her husband. I admire her strength and her strong faith.

How much research did A Plain and Simple Christmas take?

I did a lot of research into Amish Christmas traditions and their beliefs about shunning. My Amish friend was very patient with my endless questions. We talked on the phone several times, and she also read my manuscript and gave me pointers in order to make it as accurate as possible.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing A Plain and Simple Christmas?

While I knew that the Amish don’t decorate trees or have Santa Claus in their celebrations, I was very intrigued to find out that they do decorate their homes with poinsettias and some greenery.

 

What were your favorite books as a child?

When I was really little, my most favorite book was Elizabeth by Liesel Moak Skropen, which is about a girl who gets a special doll for Christmas.  As I got older, I became a big fan of Judy Blume and Francine Pascal. I remember sitting on the back porch reading Judy Blume during the summer and also curling up in my bed with Sweet Valley High books. During my teenage years, I became obsessed with S.E. Hinton. I read The Outsiders more than a dozen times and knew the movie by heart.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

My biggest challenge is balancing all of the demands I have on my time. I work full-time, and I also have two children and an ill husband who is on dialysis and awaiting a second kidney transplant. I normally stay up late at night to write, and I work on my books as much as I can on weekends. However, I’m blessed to have my mother living with us, and she helps manage the household. I couldn’t reach all of my goals without my family’s support and patience.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

My favorite part is having readers email me and tell me that my words touched them.  When I receive one of those email messages, I’m flattered, honored, and humbled.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I’m definitely a plotter. When I’m planning out a book, I first write a synopsis, highlighting all of the major twists and turns in the story. Once my editor approves the synopsis, I compose a detailed outline, chapter by chapter, and scene by scene, and I use this outline as a roadmap. If I get stuck, I review my outline so that I know where I’m doing.  The outline may grow and change, but it helps me weave the story from start to finish. Since my deadlines are so close together and my time is so limited due to the demands in my life, I have to be as organized as possible.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Absolutely! I often joke that I hear voices in my head, because I can hear the characters’ dialogue and see the scenes play out.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?  

More books are coming soon in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Book three, A Place of Peace, will debut in December, and two more books will be out next year. I also have a non-Amish young adult book in the works called Roadside Assistance releasing in May 2011.

What message would you like your readers to take from A Plain and Simple Christmas?

I hope readers find a message of reconciliation, renewal, and hope. The story is about a family’s journey toward mending fences, and I hope that inspires readers to strive for that in their own lives.

What is your greatest achievement?

I would say my greatest achievement is having two wonderful boys. They are my inspiration and my reason for pushing myself as hard as I do.

 

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My goal is to touch my readers’ hearts. I hope that my stories bring them comfort or even an escape from every day life.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I love to read and (obviously) write.  I’m addicted to chick-flicks and watch a lot of Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, and Hallmark Channel.  I’m an avid NASCAR fan (go #88!), and we used to attend a lot of races before my husband became very ill.  I also enjoy just spending time with my boys, watching them race around the yard on their go-karts and play on the swingset.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for interviewing me and sharing my books.  I’m very blessed to be able to share my stories, and I’m very thankful for the readers who choose my novels for their reading lists.

 


 

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