How did you choose the setting?
Bliss Creek is a fictional town in Kansas. I choose Kansas because I’m originally from that state. I’m familiar with the landscape, the geography and the seasons. It’s a rural state with many farming communities. My sister and her husband farm there and can tell me what crops are in the field during what times of the year, when they’re harvested, etc., which helps me get the details right. While there are Mennonite communities in Kansas, I don’t believe there are currently any Amish districts. Having a fictional community allows me to set it up anyway I like. It gives me a lot of freedom.
How involved are you in the Amish community?
I’ve done a lot of research. I hope to be able to travel to Amish country soon.
Do you have a favorite character To Love and to Cherish? Why?
My favorite character is Josiah. He’s a lot like me. He has a good heart and he wants to do the right thing, but he’s stubborn, rebellious, and stiff-necked. He questions everything and often does things the hard way, but ultimately, he really wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.
How much research did To Love and to Cherish take?
This is my first Amish romance, so it required a tremendous amount of research. It’s important to me to get it right. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that each Amish district has its own Ordnung, or set of unwritten rules. What may be permitted in one community is prohibited in another. Some are more conservative than others. It was fascinating and I’m still learning.
Is the story based on fact?
No, it’s completely fictional.
How many books will be in this series?
Book #2, entitled A Heart Made New (where readers will learn more about Josiah’s journey, as well as Annie’s) is scheduled for release in September 2012. I’m currently working on a third Bliss Creek novel that I hope to pitch to Harvest House very soon, so we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.