Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a native Pennsylvanian, having living here my whole life except for brief forays elsewhere when my husband was in graduate school. We live in a farmhouse that was built in the 1860s on twenty-five acres of land, which we try to keep up with, and my husband is a devoted gardener. That means I do a lot of canning, freezing, and jam-making.
I began writing short stories for children’s Sunday School magazines when my own children were young and gave me plenty of fodder for stories, and I gradually worked my way into writing for teens and then adults for both religious and commercial magazines. I was a religious education director for a number of years until I retired to write full time.
Lydia’s Hope is my fifty-second published book, and over six million copies of my books are in print.
My husband and I have three grown children and six amazing grandchildren, and my favorite role in life is that of Grammy!
What is your connection to the Amish community?
When I was growing up, there were a number of Plain people in our rural community, primarily Old Order Mennonite. Because I had many friends who were Plain, I didn’t see it as anything unusual, and I learned about Anabaptist beliefs in a very natural way. I’ve always lived in rural Pennsylvania, my maternal family background is Pennsylvania Dutch, and there are several Amish communities in our area.
How many books will be in The Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley Series?
The story of the lost sisters will arc over two books. The second book, Susanna’s Dream, will come out in February of 2014.
How much of The Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley Series comes from your background and experience? Sisters?
I did a great deal of thinking about my relationship with my own sister while I was writing these books, primarily because my dear sister, Patricia, to whom the first book is dedicated, went to be with the Lord in December.
It seemed to me that after our parents passed away, my sister became even closer to me. She understood what it was like growing up in our family, and because she was ten years older than I, she was almost like a second mother to me. I do feel that the bond between sisters, despite all of the times we argue and feel jealousy, is a very strong one. How is that bond created when sisters don’t meet until they are adults? I really enjoyed imagining how that might happen in my books.
How much research did The Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley Series take?
It took less research than one might expect, because the places and some of the events in the stories are things I’ve experienced. For example, the flood which is an important element in the second book, is based upon the floods we’ve lived through here in the Susquehanna Valley in recent years. When I wrote about that I didn’t need to research—I just needed to remember!